It has been a very big year for NRCM and the people of Maine. In June, the Penobscot River Restoration Project was completed, opening up nearly 2,000 miles of habitat for 11 species of native sea-run fish. NRCM began working on this project with others more than 16 years ago. In August, we saw the designation of Maine’s new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. This “monumental” achievement has people buzzing, especially folks in that region who are seeing a long-awaited uptick in visitors and are planning for their communities’ economic future. It is not every year that we experience such magnificent conservation and restoration “wins,” and I have thoroughly enjoyed celebrating all of our hard work.
While NRCM continues to work on these fronts, we have many other irons in the fire, too. We are fighting an ill-conceived attempt to roll back Maine’s basic solar policy, net metering. This comes at a time when we should be enacting new solar policies that get Maine out of last place for solar installations in New England. We are also facing the relentless attempt to weaken Maine’s metal mining rules, despite the Legislature soundly defeating this effort twice before. In addition, we are working to stop the state from changing zoning rules in a way that would open up Maine’s North Woods to
sprawling development. And we are working to reduce food waste. Did you know 30 percent of what we are throwing into landfills is food that could be consumed or composted? What a waste of our natural resources, at a time when so many are going hungry, including here in Maine. This needs to stop, and there is a growing community of people who share our concern.
The good news is that the vast majority of Maine people are with us. A recent Critical Insights poll showed that an overwhelming 72 percent of Mainers support President Obama’s decision to establish our new National Monument. More than three out of four Maine voters want the Legislature to enact strong solar policies and to fund the Land for Maine’s Future program.
Three out of four Mainers oppose weakening our mining regulations. And more than 70 percent of voters in our state believe Maine’s environmental laws have worked and that our environment and economy go hand-in-hand. They do not want to see their policymakers weaken Maine’s environmental laws.
These findings tell us that NRCM is on the right track. We continue to work with many community groups on their sustainability efforts. We are planning for the upcoming legislative session that gets underway in January. And we will do everything we can to make sure the nation’s most important climate legislation—the Clean Power Plan—is ultimately implemented.
Cheers for our monumental achievements this year. They belong to all of us.
—by Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM Executive Director