On January 20, 2011, NRCM sponsored a Roundtable on Maine People and the Environment at which speakers presented to Maine Governor Paul LePage their views on why a clean and healthy environment is important for their job, our economy, the quality of life of Maine people, and our state’s future.
More than 500 citizens from across the state poured into the Augusta Civic Center to participate in the first public meeting with Governor LePage about the importance of environmental protection to Maine’s economic and public health. A panel of 28 businesses, sportsmen, health professionals, religious leaders, and youth discussed how the laws that have cleaned up once heavily polluted rivers, have kept Maine’s woods and fish stocks intact, have kept our landscapes protected and relatively pristine, and have cleaned up our air — and saved us money — by conserving energy, are necessary and welcome to those who have chosen to set up businesses in Maine, have worked the land for generations, or visit here to enjoy our quality of life.
NRCM is proud to have sponsored this event with numerous partner organizations and to have seen so many members from the NRCM family across the state in attendance. We have shown once again that the people of Maine are deeply committed to environmental protections and are willing to stand up and fight for them.
The bios and transcripts of remarks of each speaker are provided below. To read written remarks by each presenter, please click on their name.
Opening remarks by Pete Didisheim, NRCM Advocacy Director
||Ray “Bucky” Owen worked as a professor at the University of Maine at Orono for over thirty years, chairing the Wildlife Department for a decade. In 1993, Governor McKernan nominated Bucky to head the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, a position he also held in the Administration of Governor King.|
|CD Armstrong is President of Deering Lumber, Inc., a full service lumber and building supply retailer with lumberyards in Biddeford and Kennebunk, in business since 1866. Armstrong also volunteers service as Chairman of the Friends of Scarborough Marsh and as Vice Chair for the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.|
|William P. Bennett is President and Chief Operating Officer of Oakhurst Dairy, the only truly local major dairy in Northern New England and Eastern Massachusetts. For more than 30 years, Bill has managed every aspect of day-to-day operations and developed strategies for continuous improvement of quality and efficiency.|
|Chief Brenda Commander is the tribal chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. Throughout her tenure, Brenda has helped create new programs while working with others to secure grant funding for housing, health and domestic violence services.|
|Chad Coffin is president of the Maine Clammers Association, a non-profit organization founded by Maine’s wild clammers, whose goal it is to maintain and improve the quality of Maine’s tidal and ocean waters.|
|Joan Benoit Samuelson is the only American woman to have ever won an Olympic gold medal in the marathon, “taking the gold” in the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles. She is a pioneer of women’s marathoning. She won the 1979 and 1983 Boston Marathons, and has qualified for every Olympic Trial since 1984.|
|Garrett Conover and his business partner Alexandra Conover Bennett have been professional canoe and snowshoe guides for 28 years. Garrett is a registered Maine Guide who has specialized in traditional wilderness traveling techniques of the boreal north woods.|
|John Cooney is the Vice President of Finance and Development at Reed & Reed, Inc., based in Woolwich and founded in 1928. Reed & Reed has a long history of successful public and private construction projects throughout New England.|
|Megan Rice is a mother from China, Maine. Megan’s daughters are Kate (4) and Elizabeth (16 months). Before becoming a mother, Megan worked with Maine organizations that try to reduce the burden of tobacco addiction and substance abuse on Maine families.|
|Harry Dwyer has been in the logging and forestry business for 30 years. A licensed forester, certified master logger, licensed wood scaler and certified logging professional, Harry owns Ghost Dancer Forestry in Fayette, Maine. Harry was awarded the Maine Forest Service’s Outstanding Forest Stewardship Award in 2001.|
|Maroulla S. Gleaton, M.D. is an ophthalmologist with a practice in Augusta. She is a leader in the state’s medical community, currently serving on the executive committee of the Maine Medical Association. Through the MMA, Maine Health Access Foundation, and the Family Medicine Institute, she has developed a deep understanding of the challenges that families and physicians face in accessing or providing quality healthcare.|
|Ken Olson, retired President and CEO of Friends of Acadia. He previously served as Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, President of American Rivers (Washington, DC), Director of Special Projects at The Conservation Fund (Arlington, VA) and, early in his career, head of the Appalachian Mountain Club Hut System in NH’s White Mountain National Forest.|
|Corson “Corky” Ellis, Chairman and Founder of Kepware Technologies, which he started in 1995. Kepware is located in Portland’s historic Old Port, and employs 50 people as the world’s leading company for communications and related products for use in the automation marketplace.|
|Horace “Hoddy” Hildreth, Jr., chairman of Diversified Communications, a former Republican state senator and candidate for Congress, and son of the late Gov. Horace Hildreth Sr. When serving in the Maine Legislature, Hoddy drafted and sponsored some of the state’s most significant environmental laws.|
|Martin Grohman is GAF’s first Director of Sustainability where he is responsible for communicating and developing sustainability for the entire $3B company. He joined GAF with the purchase of Correct Building Products which he co-founded and grew to $30M in sales.|
|Glen Libby, President of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative, Chairman of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association and President of the Port Clyde Community Groundfish sector, all based in Port Clyde, Maine. He serves on the New England Fisheries Management Council and the Maine Marine Resources Advisory Council and is a lifelong fisherman.|
|Marilyn Meyerhans and her husband Steve own Lakeside Orchards in Manchester, and they also own and manage The Apple Farm in Fairfield, Maine. The orchard grows 30 varieties of apples, and three varieties of pears and crabapples.|
|Stephen Rich is the CEO of WBRC Architects and Engineers. He was the project director of an addition to the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center, which was the first LEED certified building on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono.|
|Ernie Hilton is an 11th generation Mainer who grew up in Starks and has practiced as an attorney and civil engineer in Madison since 1984. He served on the Maine Board of Environmental Protection for nine years, and was Chair his last year, in 2008.|
|Ruth McLaughlin is co-owner, with her husband Dan, of Blair Hill Inn in Greenville, which has been featured in many magazines, including Travel + Leisure, Yankee, Food & Wine, Ladies Home Journal, and Outside. During the busy season, the inn and restaurant employ as many as 15 local people. Ruth has served on the C.A. Dean Memorial Hospital Board of Directors for more than 10 years and as the Board Chair for 6 years.|
|Patrice McCarron is Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and has extensive knowledge of the lobster industry. She has served as Executive Director of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, worked on fisheries issues for the New England Aquarium and was Director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute’s Resource Center.|
|Ashley Richards was a custom homebuilder and remodeler with Richards & Company before becoming an energy auditor and insulation contractor with WarmTech Solutions. He is currently president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Maine.|
|Alice Percy and her husband Rufus own Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield. It is a diversified, organic farm with a farrow-to-finish hog operation. Alice is a graduate of Colby College, with a degree in Environmental Science. She is especially interested in an ecosystems approach to agriculture, in expanding the availability of local grains to local livestock farmers, and in integrating fuel and food production through oilseeds.|
|Jeff Reardon is an avid sportsman, hunting and fishing whenever he can. He serves as the Maine Brook Trout Project Director for Trout Unlimited. Jeff grew up in Maine, left the state to get a biology degree at Williams College, and returned in 1994—as soon as he could find a job here.|
|Thomas Tietenberg is the Mitchell Family Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Colby College. The author of over 100 publications, Tom is a former President and current Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.|
|Father Richard Senghas is a Roman Catholic priest, Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Diocese, and former Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Jay. He was an orthopedic surgeon until the death of his wife, after which he entered the seminary for preparation for the priesthood.|
|Deirdre Birbeck is a senior at Unity College, where she is pursuing a double major in Agriculture, Food and Sustainability and Landscape Horticulture. She grew up in Lincolnville, attended Camden Regional High School, and has worked on farms every summer since high school.|
|Mark Berry is Executive Director of Downeast Lakes Land Trust in Grand Lake Stream. He oversees forest conservation projects, education programs, and the management of the 33,708-acre Farm Cove Community Forest for wildlife habitat, public recreation, and a sustainable timber economy.|
Response from Governor Paul LePage
The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick is the Rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Belfast, Maine. She is also the Missioner for Environmental Stewardship for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. From 1999 to 2003 she was the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Angus King, and was previously the Bureau Director for the DEP’s Bureau of Land and Water Quality. Watch video.
Here are some of the remarks from our panelists who spoke at this event:
William Bennett, Pres. & CEO, of Oakhurst: "Investing in the environment is not only an integral component of our corporate social responsibility program; it’s an important aspect of our business... As they say, if it’s good for the environment, it’s good for business. After all the cows that produce Oakhurst milk literally eat drink and breathe the Maine environment so it's in everyone's best interest to keep Maine's environment clean, safe and healthy."
Deirdre Birbeck, Unity College student: "It seems to me that my generation's future jobs will depend on careful stewarding of our natural resources."
Chad Coffin, Pres. of the Maine Clammers Association: “Excellent water quality starts in the lakes, ponds, and streams hundreds of miles inland, and ends at the coast…If our coastal waters are not clean, it is impossible for all commercial fishermen, not just clammers, to market the Maine brand.”
Harry Dwyer, licensed forester and logger who owns Ghost Dance Forestry in Fayette: “Sustainable forest management does pay, and we need to continue to improve how we protect our natural resources… Regulations are not the enemy. They are an important tool in making sure sustainability is a part of how we do business today so that our children and grandchildren also have opportunity in the future…And even though I am in business and not the biggest fan of regulation, I think we should be very careful about stepping backwards and deregulating. I deal with the impact of running a natural resource-based business in an area where development has often been done carelessly and no thought to future needs except just how you might get a pulp truck into a back lot… I think government officials have a role like the umpires in a ball game. You’re not on either team, you make sure the game is played by the rules and the playing field is level. Nothing puts a burr under my saddle more than to have to compete against people who cut corners, who don’t care about the future or what the rules of the game are. I can’t compete with that, and no one trying to do it right can compete with that.
Horace “Hoddy” Hildreth, former Republican state senator and current chairman of Diversified Communications: “Maine has some tough environmental laws, most of which were passed by Republican controlled Legislatures in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Prior to this time, Maine just didn’t have any laws that were designed to protect the environment… These laws have generally served Maine well over the past 40 years. They have protected the one single advantage that Maine has over other states in the Northeast in attracting people and businesses: namely, our environment and our quality of life. The implementation of these laws has from time to time caused frustration and even outrage, but I submit to you that working on the regulations to make sure they are responsive to the plain intent of the statutes is a better way to go than gutting or repealing the laws.”
Corky Ellis, founder and Chairman of Kepware, a software company in Portland: "Please bear in mind that many businesses like ours are here in Maine precisely because of the protected beauty and the conservation efforts of the past."
Ernie Hilton, lifelong Republican, an attorney and civil engineer from Madison who previously chaired Maine's Board of Environmental Protection: "I'm concerned when I see, as I did yesterday, a list of some of the statutes which are pending before the Legislature dealing with shoreland zoning and with LURC, and it strikes me as being a race to the bottom approach to our environment,"
Patrice McCarron, Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association: “Consumers love Maine lobster, and they know that our lobster is the best in the world; they bought about 100 million pounds of Maine lobster last year alone. They know that it’s harvested from the pristine waters of the gulf of Maine, and we need to make sure that the rules that protect these waters remain in place.”
Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic gold medalist in the marathon: “I feel as though I’ve been a human barometer for climate change over the many miles of my career. I’ve noticed such things as changing ambient air quality, erosion, runoff, development; things that perhaps our state should look a little more carefully at and for producing. I think that we have a brand that needs to be protected, promoted, and embraced.”
Ray “Bucky” Owen, retired professor at the University of Maine at Orono and former head of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: “I’d like to talk about the economic values of fish and wildlife to the state of Maine: in essence, it’s about a $1.8 billion dollar industry, it creates thousands of jobs, over $110 million dollars of tax revenues, hundreds of millions of dollars in retail sales, and is supported by almost no general fund money…It’s an economic engine that is spent greatly in rural Maine, places where it’s needed, and I would offer that it could be increased significantly with additional dollars, not a lot, to work on the economic development within the department… The alewife throughout the inshore ground fish fisheries [is] a major lobster bait [and is] important to the ecology of the lower rivers …it’s so important to the economy of Maine.”
CD Armstrong, President of Deering Lumber, Inc.: “After listening to builders and developers often complain about environmental regulations over 25 years, I’m convinced that they don’t necessarily believe we’re over-regulated, but they often find the regulations confusing…Most of them want to do the right thing: they just don’t necessarily know how to do it”
Chief Brenda Commander, tribal chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians: “Fish are a very important food source to our community. Sadly, I must warn our members and elders about the state advisory on fish consumption currently in affect. Through our work we have learned that existing safeguards are not always sufficient to support our efforts and protect our community.”
Megan Rice, mother from China, Maine: “As the mother of two young girls, I am particularly concerned about hormone disrupting chemicals like BPA. I want my girls to grow up healthy, and be able to have children of their own some day.”
Lead Sponsor: Natural Resources Council of Maine
Event Cosponsors: Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine * Appalachian Mountain Club * Atlantic Salmon Federation * Bicycle Coalition of Maine * Conservation Law Foundation * Environmental Health Strategy Center * Environment Maine * ENE (Environment Northeast) * Friends of Casco Bay * Maine Audubon * Maine Center for Economic Policy * Maine Conservation Voters Education Fund * Maine Council of Churches * Maine Council of Trout Unlimited * Maine Interfaith Power and Light * Maine League of Conservation Voters * Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners * Maine Partners for Cool Communities * Maine People’s Alliance * Maine Rivers * Physicians for Social Responsibility * RESTORE: The North Woods * Sierra Club – Maine Chapter * The Wilderness Society * Toxics Action Center