News & Noteworthy
July 31, 2019
One Salmon’s Journey
Bangor Daily News outdoors editor John Holyoke gives us the tale of one Atlantic salmon’s amazing journeys in Maine’s waters and an $880K payout from an oil company spill will fund improvements to help fish migrate up the Penobscot River and its tributaries. Congratulations to Baxter State Park’s new Chief Ranger, Daniel Rinard.
Clear Skies in SoPo
In the ongoing battle against the fossil fuel industry for cleaner air in South Portland, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) now admits it was wrong to resist the federal crackdown on pollution and a federal appeals court heard arguments defending the city’s clean skies ordinance. NRCM was proud to collaborate with environmental partners on an amicus brief in the case. Residents found out air quality standards were violated once again.
Our Sustainable ME team was happy to read about a new business in South Portland that helps people reduce waste by offering bulk shampoo and personal care products to customers who bring their own containers, and we noted the announcement by a major hotel chain that it was ditching mini shampoo bottles to curb plastic waste. Longtime NRCM supporter Sally Chappell joined fellow residents to educate their Bridgton neighbors about plastic waste.
Bangor is closing its recycling station as the town switches to bringing its trash and recycling to the regional Fiberight facility BUT because its opening continues to hit snags and becomes further delayed, all the towns the facility should be serving have been forced to send all their waste to the landfill. And high levels of the toxic chemical PFAS were found in bottled water in NH that’s also sold in Maine.
The Bangor Daily News editorial board was spot on in their support of automakers’ efforts to join with California to bypass the Trump Administration’s rollback of Clean Car Standards. Communities across Maine, including in Presque Isle and York County, are expanding transit service to better serve their residents.
NRCM joined a coalition of organizations in signing a letter praising the Northeast regional initiative to curb transportation emissions, and the University of Maine is poised to produce the first floating wind turbine in the U.S.
As the state gears up for a massive investment in heat pumps to help residents, more installers will be needed, says a leading contractor. A court rules Brunswick’s tax on solar was legal despite residents’ objections, but a new state law essentially nullifies it in the future.
CMP Corridor Updates
Chesterville residents overwhelmingly voted to oppose the CMP corridor, becoming the latest town to oppose the troubled project. In a letter to the editor, Nancy Prince of Wilton highlights the impact that the CMP corridor would have on the state’s prized brook trout. And after spending a staggering $318 million to try and get its project approved, Eversource announced it’s pulling the plug on the Northern Pass project, which had been selected prior to the CMP corridor.
The PUC’s Chair indicated that a decision on Central Maine Power’s out-of-touch rate increase request will likely be delayed, after groups, including NRCM, requested a delay because of ongoing issues with the utility.
Your Vote Matters!
As Maine kicks off its bicentennial celebrations, Kevin Miller of the Portland Press Herald has a feature story on the vote for statehood, and Maine Public speaks with former state representative Herb Adams about how Maine came to be.
Black Bodies, Green Spaces
In recent months, the editorial pages of the New York Times have hosted two essential pieces of reading in their opinion pages, “Black Women are Leaders in the Climate Movement” and “Black Bodies, Green Spaces,” which explore the relationship African-Americans have to the environmental movement.
July 24, 2019
Action Promised on CMP Billing Issues
The BIG news dominating news coverage has been Central Maine Power’s ongoing billing and customer service complaints, coupled with an astoundingly tone-deaf request from the company to raise rates. The PUC kicked off a series of public hearings on the billing issues. Angry and frustrated customers showed up at the hearings, and needless to say, they were not happy about how they’d been treated by CMP.
In response to the huge outcry over CMP’s abysmal track record, the PUC took the rare move of writing an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald to publicly say they’re committed to taking action.
NRCM Clean Energy Director Dylan Voorhees writes in the Portland Press Herald about how CMP’s billing issues lead to much deeper negative impacts for Maine’s future, namely our ability to meet the state’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals.
Remembering PUC Staffer Chris Simpson
PUC staff member Chris Simpson was tragically killed by a driver while picking up his mail. Chris was a gifted guitarist, a wonderful person, a friend to many at NRCM, and a dedicated public servant who we worked with at the PUC and on energy efficiency programs. We’re deeply saddened to learn of his tragic death. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
Opposition to CMP Corridor Continues to Grow
Mainers opposed to the CMP corridor project are considering gathering signatures for a citizen’s initiative. Chesterville will be the latest town to vote on the troubled project, with a town meeting scheduled for July 25.
Productive Legislative Session a Promising Sign
This legislative session was without a doubt the most productive in decades, and the Christian Science Monitor took a look at what that might mean for the nation. In a recent column, George Smith highlighted the enormous progress on climate action, urging the federal government to follow the state’s lead.
The Portland Press Herald wrote an in-depth look at NRCM’s efforts to reform recycling in Maine, and the newspaper editorialized in strong support of the campaign. The New York Times highlights the devious lobbying and campaigning done by the plastic industry as they to try and kill legislation that would reduce plastic waste.
Conserving Land for All to Enjoy
Maine Calling visited Millinocket for a live discussion of the Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument, and Penoboscot salmon returns are the highest they’ve been in a long time. The Sun Journal takes a look at a school trail project funded in part by an NRCM grant.
MaineBiz takes a deep dive into how developers and residents are returning to the Kennebec after the removal of the Edwards Dam, and in an editorial, the Portland Press Herald reinforces the important role the Edwards Dam removal played in the nation’s river restoration movement and a letter to the editor from one of our summer interns, Sarah Corkum, highlights the personal impact.
World is Warming But Stay Hopeful!
A new study warns we can expect many more extreme heat days across Maine as our climate warms, Congresswoman Pingree continues her leadership on climate change during a recent visit in Portland, and Maine youth are continuing to organize for climate action. And a federal appeals court heard arguments in the South Portland pipeline case over the city’s Clear Skies ordinance.
Hope is on the horizon, especially as the legislative session ushered in a new era of renewable energy. We’ll end this news wrap-up with a very tangible and exciting result coming from the new laws our team fought so hard to pass. A solar project being constructed on Mt. Desert Island High School will now deliver dramatically more savings to the school because of the new solar bills recently signed into law.
July 2, 2019
Here’s your latest round-up of news from the past week.
A Remarkable Recovery
On Monday, July 1, as Osprey flew overhead and sturgeon leaped, we joined friends and partners at Augusta’s Mill Park to celebrate the remarkable recovery of the Kennebec River at an event recognizing the 20th anniversary of the removal of the Edwards Dam.
ICYMI, we released this video with truly awe-inspiring footage from the Kennebec, highlighting its dramatic recovery.
Big Gains for the Environment and Climate Action
The Sun Journal ran a big story detailing how the environment was a BIG winner in this year’s legislative session, and
Governor Mills signed three major climate and clean energy bills into law at an event at the state’s largest solar array in Pittsfield, and Maine continue to be recognized nationally for the amazing slate of climate and clean energy bills that were passed this year.
After advocacy from NRCM and action from the legislators, the Public Utilities Commission reversed its decision to gut energy efficiency funding and will now delivery help to low-income Mainers. Greentech Media has a great overview of Governor Mills’ efforts to dramatically expand use of heat pumps across Maine.
Damariscotta votes have given the green light to solar on the site of their former landfill and there were a few great responses that defended electric vehicles after a recent op-ed criticizing EVs from the very conservative Heritage Foundation appeared in local newspapers.
The Bangor Daily News ran a nice profile of our 2016 People’s Choice Award winner, Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town, and the Land for Maine’s Future program will support preservation of working waterfronts in Maine.
The Press Herald has a Q&A with the relatively new director of Baxter State Park.
The Sun Journal spoke with plastic bag-toting shoppers who, it turns out, favor the new ban on plastic bags, and Vinalhaven residents have started an island-wide composting program to help save money on shipping trash.