by Deirdre Fleming
Portland Press Herald news story
Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, the keynote speaker at the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s annual meeting, used his speech praising Brownie Carson’s 20 years of service to warn of environmental dangers ahead.
“We’re going backwards in this world in dealing with environmental issues,” Mitchell said Friday at the council’s annual meeting, which paid tribute to Carson, its executive director.
Mitchell, who worked with Carson during his years in the Senate, commended Carson for his “persistence and patience” in advocating for environmental causes in Maine “for the right reasons.”
Mitchell, who helped enact the 1990 Clean Air Act, also criticized the Bush administration for its attempt to undo what the bill has done.
“To my astonishment, this administration is pursuing a policy with the special objective . . . to reverse the Clean Air Act and make changes that would take us back 30 years,” Mitchell said.
Carson used his address as the meeting’s guest of honor to focus on the problem of mercury seeping into riverways from power plants, which he said is endangering unborn babies, children and pregnant women.
When Mike Leavitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Maine in September to discuss school bus gas emissions, Carson publicly questioned Leavitt’s role in allowing mercury pollution to continue.
On Friday, Carson urged members of the council at the University of Maine’s Glickman Family Library to remain aware and vocal about the mercury pollution in Maine’s waters.
“I believe that it is very important that we meet with and confront and talk frankly and honestly with people like Leavitt,” Carson said. “And let him know we will be watching.”
Carson also said the council will be back in 2005 to try to force a bond to gain more funds for the Land For Maine’s Future program.
Carson also said securing more federal funds for environmental issues, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in Maine’s environment, protecting more land in the northern forest and putting a halt to the pollution of Maine’s rivers are parts of his vision.
In March, Carson will receive the National Wildlife Federation’s Special Achievement Conservation Award, which is given infrequently. The Council is the Federation’s Maine affiliate.