November 27, 2019
Gov Mills Steps Up State Climate Action
At a ribbon cutting ceremony for new solar panels at the Blaine House, Governor Mills announced that state agencies will step up their efforts to combat climate change and WGME took a look at the bright future for solar in Maine!
Actions like this, including Attorney General Aaron Frey’s involvement in a lawsuit on tailpipe emissions and UMaine’s floating offshore wind project, are all the more important given a recent UN report that called for accelerated carbon reductions to meet targets set by nations across the world. Thankfully, Congresswoman Pingree joined her colleagues recently in filing a bill to transition to a 100% clean economy.
Pine Tree Watch’s “Sea Change” column highlights the important role that weatherization and energy efficiency will play in Maine’s efforts to reduce pollution and save homeowners money.
Indigenous Canadians Highlight Damage of Large Hydro
Indigenous Canadians toured Maine this week to highlight the damage that large hydro projects have done to their homeland and culture.
Farther south, the Yale student newspaper ran a long feature on the CMP corridor and push back from Yale community members about the University’s involvement in the troubled project.
Concerns About Rockweed Harvesting
The Boston Globe highlighted the clash on the coast over commercial rockweed harvesting, an issue that was raised in the last legislative session and is sure to come up again.
Tackling Pollution at the Source
We’re on board with this op-ed that ran recently in the Maine Campus newspaper, especially this line: “The large corporations that profit off unsustainable business practices and then hide behind the guise of making minor adjustments to remain in a favorable light to the public are the real contributors to the problem and what we need to focus on confronting.”
While we’re on the topic of waste and colleges, a special shout out goes to College of the Atlantic for becoming the first college to ban single-use plastics.
EV Trash Trucks?
ecomaine is featured in this national story about waste haulers beginning to look at electric garbage trucks.
Hits Keep Coming for CMP
In another brutal hit to CMP’s reputation and a reflection of how deep the company’s inability to deliver for customers is, a new national survey of business satisfaction with utilities ranked CMP dead last in the nation. Maybe if they stopped spending so much time and money on their troubled corridor project the company could fix some of its longstanding customer service issues?
The Bangor Daily News political team looked at how CMP’s horrible reputation will impact the potential referendum campaign against the CMP corridor.
Changes for the North Woods
Judy East of Washington County was named the new Executive Director of the Land Use Planning Commission, the agency that oversees development and planning for the vast North Woods.
WABI has a great profile of Monson Arts, the arts and economic development that’s breathing new creative life into Monson and the surrounding territory.
Towns Eyeing Solar
Bangor is moving forward with a potential solar array near the airport, while farther south in Sanford town officials broke ground on what will become Maine’s largest solar project at an airport. In Washington County, the solar array that social service organization Sunrise Opportunities installed on one of its apartment buildings is yielding positive results. The Times Record also highlighted Bath’s efforts to reduce emissions.
As part of the clean energy transition, many cities and regions, including Portland, are moving toward electric buses. This national story is a deep dive into what that growing demand means for the country.
Dunkin Ditching Foam
Dunkin Donuts announced it’s going to phase out the use of foam coffee cups, in part because of Maine’s new ban on foam food containers. Unfortunately, the company admits its new paper coffee cups may not be recyclable and passed the buck to local cities and towns. This is a perfect example of why the recycling reform that our Sustainable Maine team is working on is so important – it’ll incentive companies to produce and use products that are easily recyclable so towns aren’t stuck with the cost of cleaning up wasteful stuff!
Recycling Beer Can Holders
A new collaboration led by some of the state’s breweries aims to give people the opportunity to recycle plastic beer can holders by dropping them off at their breweries. Unfortunately, the holders can’t be recycled at home so this new program is filling the gap.
Extreme Weather Changes
The Bangor Daily News published an excellent explainer of how climate change is contributing to extreme weather events in Maine.
DEP Commissioner on Maine Calling
Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Jerry Reid joined Maine Calling for a discussion of his department’s priorities. Listen in for a special appearance by our very own Sarah Nichols!
November 8, 2019
In the most recent News & Noteworthy, we’ve got lots of good news to share! We hope you enjoy reading the items as much as we did.
If you were tuned in to Maine Calling recently, you likely cheered as NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Dylan Voorhees set the record straight with Hydro-Quebec CEO:
Eric Martel appeared Tuesday on Maine Calling, and fielded questions from critics of the project, including Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Voorhees criticized Hydro-Quebec for making claims to editorial boards and on the air about project facts, but never in permit proceedings in Maine. Martel said he’d be happy to discuss the project with Voorhees. “I’ll invite you – the next time I’m here I’d love to sit with you so that we can go through these points and make sure that we all have the right information, but..” “Under oath?” Voorhees asked. “Ah, I don’t need to do that under oath,” Martel answered, “but I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer, so all this…” “Well that’s how we do things when we provide information to the Public Utilities Commission,” Voorhees said. “It’s under oath and other people get to ask us questions in public, in a transparent way.” Listen to the full story.
In other Corridor news, CMP corridor opposition forces quickly collected more than 25,000 signatures since launching the ballot referendum initiative:
Opponents of Central Maine Power’s proposed transmission line project through western Maine say the effort to put the issue on the 2020 ballot got a boost from Tuesday’s election. The group “No CMP Corridor” says it has collected more than 25,000 signatures after deploying volunteers to polling places around the state. The group needs to submit more than 60,000 valid signatures to the Secretary of State by February 3 in order to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Read more.
In fact, some media outlets report that signing the referendum motivated many voters to get to the polls:
Election Day turnout light in central Maine, though some motivated by CMP petition
Even before the light rain started to fall midday, voter turnout at the polls across central Maine was light Tuesday, although clerks said voters were casting ballots in a steady stream and several people said they were motivated to sign a petition calling for a statewide referendum on the controversial Central Maine Power corridor proposal.
Residents of Woolwich made their feelings about the CMP proposal clear by revoking their initial support for the project:
Voters Tuesday revoked the town’s support of Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile transmission line that would send hydropower from Canada to Massachusetts. According to unofficial election results, 585 people voted in opposition to the proposed corridor, and 176 voted in favor. On a second referendum question Tuesday, residents voted 611-158 to have the select board withdraw a 2017 letter selectmen had written in support of the project. Now, board members will draft a new letter opposing the corridor push.
Meanwhile, environmental progress at the federal level have not just stalled, it’s moving backwards, as Trump moves ahead with his vow to pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, described in the BDN opinion piece:
President Donald Trump’s announcement Monday that his administration had begun the formal process of removing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, a global agreement to tackle climate change, was not a surprise. He announced in May 2017 that he was going to take this ill-advised step. Monday was the first day that countries could announce their intention to leave the global agreement. The withdrawal process takes a year. If Trump is not re-elected next year and a new president decides to resume American membership in the climate pact, reversing Trump’s move would be simple and quick. But that is a big if, and either way, it is still disheartening to see the U.S., which had long been a leader on numerous international problems, walk away from a commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions. With new reports, including ones from agencies within the Trump Administration, showing that climate change — and its consequences — are worse than previously predicted, this is not a time for backsliding on needed policies and changes to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which trap warm air around the Earth, leading to higher average global temperatures, more intense storms, increasing numbers of wildfires, and other deadly consequences.
We were delighted to see that our new neighbor, Governor Janet Mills, erected solar panels at the Blaine House this week:
The installation of solar panels at the governor’s mansion in Augusta got underway Tuesday, fulfilling a vow by Gov. Janet Mills to lead by example in the state’s effort to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2050. Workers from ReVision Energy read measurements as they construct a large solar tracker, which follows the sun across the sky, on the front lawn of the mansion grounds. And nearby on the garage, a two-man crew installed mounts for rooftop panels. There are no panels on the roof of the Blaine House, which is a national historic landmark. Mills’ office says the project costs $63,000 and will reduce the mansion’s electricity bill — roughly $11,000 last year — by about 25 percent in the first year.