FRAGILE STRUCTURES: A Story of Oil Refineries, the National Security, and the Coast of Maine by Peter Amory Bradford
Kirkus Star

FRAGILE STRUCTURES: A Story of Oil Refineries, the National Security, and the Coast of Maine

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If sanity is ever declared illegal, Peter Bradford ought to be one of the first people arrested. As an aide to former Maine Governor Kenneth Curtis, he had a ringside seat at the tangled events which led up to the state's development of something approaching a real policy on environmental-industrial relationships. The triggering event was a maverick promoter's attempt to secure options for a projected oil refinery at Machiasport in the state's easternmost county. From 1968 to 1970 the original plan went through various transformations and expansions, the Federal government blew hot and (mostly) cold, and other forces ranging from local entrepreneurs to major corporations got up their own projects. Bradford sympathizes equally with the conservationists' distrust of unregulated exploitation and with the acute local need for jobs and enlarged tax bases which only a major industry can supply in depressed areas. He wryly records the blunders, inconsistencies, and lacunae of responsibility of all parties: the grandiose competitive proposals of semi-fictitious companies with hardly an asset to their names, the ecological fervor of wealthy summer residents, the farrago of contradictions which constituted the Federal oil import quota system until 1973, the joy with which major oil interests embrace Sierra Club positions when trying to block incursions by other oil sources. Bradford's style is clear and witty, sometimes lethally penetrating. He neither denies his own biases (he has no love for the oil companies, the Johnson and Nixon administrations, or the piously self-serving local get-rich-quickers) nor indulges them (he reports the idiocies of those he admires as forthrightly as the more enlightened actions of those he doesn't). He has achieved a work of political education that transcends partisanship.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press