NRCM has a long legacy of environmental leadership in Maine. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) was founded in 1959 as a small, volunteer-based environmental advocacy group. It was made up of organizations from across the state that shared environmental concerns. NRCM fast became a strong voice in Maine's major environmental debates of the 1960s, and '70s — the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, the Dickey-Lincoln hydro project, the clean-up of Maine's rivers, the establishment of the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), and others.
NRCM was instrumental in passing much of the important state environmental legislation of the 1970s. During that time, the nature of environmental advocacy required more of a focus on lobbying, "watching-dogging," and legal action. NRCM hired its first staff attorney in the mid-1970s.
By 1981, NRCM had grown to six staff members, and in 1988, the NRCM board of directors voted to discontinue affiliate representation, in response to the challenges of managing an 80-member board representing diverse interests and goals. In the same year, the number of individual members continued to climb. This growth was fueled by notable NRCM victories during this period including the defeat of the proposed Big A Dam (1984-86), the establishment of the Growth Management Law (1988), and the campaign for Maine's solid waste and recycling law (1989).
Increased successes improved the power of NRCM to carry out its mission to protect Maine's environment. In the 1990s, victories included passage of the Toxics Use Reduction bill (1990), a successful referendum campaign to stop the widening of the Maine Turnpike (1990-1991), and, working with local groups, the fight against a proposed coal-fired power plant in Bucksport (1991-1993).
During the 1990s and up to the present, NRCM has played the vital role of watchdogging LURC, the Department of Environmental Protection, Maine's Legislature, and assisting towns in implementing the Growth Management Law. At the same time, a significant amount of NRCM's effort since 1990 has been devoted to defending significant environmental achievements against increasingly sophisticated and powerful special-interest groups.
Today, NRCM has 24 staff members and is the state's largest, most effective environmental advocacy organization, with more than 16,000 members and activists. We continue to take on Maine's most pressing environmental threats - mercury contamination, global warming pollution, land development. Keeping Maine a special place to live, work, and visit will remain at the heart of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Thanks to many NRCM victories, Maine is a leader in many environmental policies. NRCM has worked extremely hard to ensure that threats from products that contain mercury and other toxics are banned or recycled. The autoswitch and e-waste bills are good examples.
But Maine continues to face colossal challenges. Land development pressures from global real estate development companies with no concern for local interests have begun to exploit Maine's North Woods. Seattle-based Plum Creek's development around First Roach Pond is one example; their harmful plans for the Moosehead Lake region is another. NRCM was the first group to boldly speak out against the proposal, and protecting against it quickly became one of our priorities.
In the early 21st century, the lack of environmental ethic at the federal level meant huge impacts for Maine. NRCM continues to fight the EPA's mercury policies that protect polluters instead of people, habitat, and wildlife, as Maine's lakes, rivers, forests, and streams are threatened by this toxic pollutant. We are also working hard for clean energy rules to reduce global warming pollution and the health and environmental problems it causes. The Cleaner Cars Law is a signature success.
In 2009, NRCM celebrated our 50th anniversary. Learn more about this year-long celebration here.
NRCM can see not only the challenges but also many victories that lie ahead. These victories are in large part thanks to our more than 16,000 supporters. Thank you for your continued support for NRCM, and for caring about Maine's environment. If you are not already a member, we encourage you to become one today.
NRCM is the Maine state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.