Good environmental news at the federal level has been scarce, but it does happen occasionally. The resignation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt is welcomed news. The crushing weight of Pruitt’s ethics scandals aside, Pruitt’s close ties with polluting industries and his failure to support existing laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act proved he was unfit to lead the EPA. Although his acting replacement, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal industry lobbyist, Pruitt stepping down does suggest that, under enough pressure, we can win these battles. Maine people joined with others across the country calling for Pruitt’s resignation. Thank you for taking the time to contact our Congressional delegation. Now, we need to be diligent in keeping the pressure on our delegation to oppose Wheeler as Pruitt’s permanent replacement. With Pruitt gone, we have a chance at a clean start for the EPA, and we should start with a nominee who believes in the EPA’s mission to protect our health and environment. Please take a minute to urge Senators Collins and King to replace Pruitt with someone who will uphold the mission of EPA.
I am also pleased to report that we did have another major win earlier this year: restored funding for the EPA. Despite calls by the Trump Administration to slash EPA’s 2018 budget by more than 30 percent (levels not seen since the 1970s), Congress ultimately passed a budget that maintained funding levels for all EPA program areas that were of strong concern to us here in Maine. The federal budget also provided additional funds to clean up drinking water, toxic waste sites, beaches, and lakes. This victory would not have happened without your help. Thank you for speaking out to Maine’s Congressional delegation against this attack on Maine’s environment.
Unfortunately, we are now facing the same fight for the 2019 budget. So we are asking you once again to contact Congress today. Many outrageous proposals are still pending; we will need to keep doing our part to ensure they never come to pass. You can help by weighing in online, visiting regional offices, and calling Maine’s federal representatives.
One major threat that still looms is offshore oil drilling. Most East Coast governors, legislators, and state Congressional delegations have resolved to block the Trump Administration’s attempts to drill off their coasts. Imagine the harm that oil slicks would do to our tourism and fishing industries, and the legendary coast of Maine. Whales, seals, seabirds, and other marine wildlife are at risk as long as the Administration’s proposal stands. Senators Collins and King, Representatives Pingree and Poliquin, and the entire Maine Legislature have publicly declared their opposition to this reckless scheme.
The magnitude of this threat is so large that we invited a few of our members, staff, and board members to share their love of their favorite coastal places in our Explore Maine insert in our summer newsletter. Maine would not be Maine, for residents and visitors alike, without these beautiful places that we enjoy.
Every day, NRCM helps make connections between our coasts, our clean water and air, the Maine economy, and the important safeguards that support them.
Celebrate the bright spots and don’t give up the struggle: These are our mantras as we continue working together to protect the Maine we love.
—Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM CEO
Originally published in Spring 2018 edition of Maine Environment newsletter