Augusta – Governor LePage has called for cutbacks of environmental regulations he says are hurting business growth in Maine.
On Thursday environmentalists and some business leaders gathered to give their take on the Governor’s proposal.
Last week, Governor LePage released phase one of his regulatory reform proposals, many aimed at environmental protection regulations. LePage hopes that by relaxing regulations, it will attract businesses and create jobs.
Thursday, a group gathered in Augusta with the message that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand. Harry Dwyer is a logger from Fayette, Maine. He says Maine needs to be careful not to sacrifice the jobs we have now for jobs in the future. “We already have jobs,” Dwyer says. “Clammers are here and clean water is important. I work in the woods and it’s all dependent on a clean and healthy environment.”
The Environmental Priorities Coalition released their new report about investing in Maine’s environment. Lawmakers also talked about pieces of legislation aimed at protecting the environment.
Emery Deabay, a paper mill worker from Bucksport, says he’s concerned about the Governor’s proposed regulatory reforms. “We need sustainable forests,” he says. “We need to keep our rivers clean. We need to live here. So we need to balance it. We need to keep our businesses profitable and we need to keep our living areas clean and healthy.”
Chad Coffin, a wild clammer, is also worried. “The only thing we have left in Maine, business-wise from a seafood standpoint, is the Maine brand. So any undoing of environmental regulation could be damaging to that brand and ultimately to fishermen, not just clammers, but all fishermen and farmers,” Coffin said.
Many of the Governor’s proposals have come directly from the business community, a result of red tape audits being held statewide. “You could make the argument maybe it’s been slowed down or the red tape is complex or whatever and fine,” says Dwyer. “Maybe we can streamline things to make them more efficient but to undo it as deeply as they’re talking about I think is the wrong direction.”
The Governor’s office did issue this statement in response to this story. “One of our biggest downfalls is the business climate. If we’re looking to balance the pendulum, we need to consider the weight of burdensome rules and regulations that are currently in place. We agree with the coalition that we can fix what’s wrong without destroying the environment, but we also need to keep in mind that people will not have the opportunity to work if business is put on the back burner.”