In another life, Dallas (Doc) Hodgins was a University of Michigan mathematician, a numerical analyst and computer expert. He went to jail protesting the Vietnam war, and one day, when he decided that either he or the world was going crazy, he picked up and drove to Maine to become a farmer.
That was 10 years ago.
Today, on 90 acres at the end of a dirt road near Eastport, Hodgins, 52, and his family grow all their own food (except flour and sugar), sell milk and hay to the neighbors and live well without electricity.
When the federal government published its four-volume environmental impact statement on the Pittston Co.'s proposed refinery three years ago, a local storeowner asked Hodgins to read it. He did, from cover to cover, and now it sits next to his wood stove surrounded by mounds of studies, files and newspaper clippings - all trappings of his position as president of Friends of Eastport, a 2,500-member group that opposes the refinery.
"Our life has gone to hell," he said. "I didn't move here to live by a refinery. It's an assault on every fiber of my being. Why should the planet give up an area so rich in food and fish so people can run hair pluckers in New York?"
Hodgins' investigations of the refinery's technical aspects has put Pittston and the government on the defensive.He contends the Environmental Protection Agency's computer projection for air pollution was based on faulty data - a model for "gently rolling countryside" rather than for a fili-greed coastline with 18-foot tides, thick fogs and fast currents.
While Pittston says it will emit no more than 4.99 micrograms of sulfur dioxide per cubic meter of air, Hodgins claims it would be technically impossible not to violate the federal standard of 5.0 micrograms. If the plant is built, he said, "I would move away for health reasons. People in counties with refineries have an alarmingly high incidence of cancer. I wouldn't subject my children to that."
Pittston dismisses the charges, noting that the plant incorporates the most modern technology. "This isn't going to be like New Jersey," says Pittston lawyer Jonathan Hill. "New refineries are clean. They don't stink or smell."
But he adds, "I can understand the reluctance of agencies to permit an oil refinery on the coast of Maine. It's God's country." CAPTION: Picture, Eastport farmer Hodgins with daugther Molly: "Our life has gone to hell." By Pat Wellenbach for The Washington Post