Every month, we highlight news stories and opinion pieces related to Maine’s land, air, water, and wildlife. News & Noteworthy is updated weekly with the latest news related to the nature of Maine, including the work of staff at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
August 30, 2023
During the legislative session, NRCM and more than 300 businesses, towns, land trusts, and organizations signed on in support of a Maine Trails Bond, which would be used to develop and maintain Maine’s trails for multiple uses like biking, walking, ATVing, and snowmobiling. That bond discussion is being held over until the 2024 session, but in the meantime, some towns are working on promoting and expanding outdoor recreational uses on trails. The city of Ellsworth, which millions of people pass through each year on their way to visit Acadia National Park, has more than 20 miles of trails. Learn more about how they are promoting their trails and get a copy of a map of those trails. And just last week, the Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council voted in support of recommending that 34 mile of abandoned railroad tracks be turned into a trail for cyclists and hikers/walkers. This would connect Brunswick to Augusta!
Another priority for NRCM and many others was to pass a bill in support of offshore wind procurement in the Gulf of Maine. Maine Audubon’s CEO Andy Beahm shares his thoughts about why the time for offshore wind is now in this Portland Press Herald op-ed.
In our August 17 update below, we mentioned that the Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing on stronger clean car and truck standards for Maine. Learn more about that hearing and hear from supporters of these standards, including NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro.
Many of you have children or grandchildren headed back to school this week (or you may be headed back yourself if you are a teacher). There will soon be a new resource for Maine teachers to help them teach students about climate change and its effects.
Did you know that the Maine Legislature passed a law to ban sales of mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs starting in January 2026? Read more and hear from NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols in this WABI news story.
Let’s end the week with some good news….I mean GREAT news! Reports show that Atlantic Puffins off the coast of Maine are having their second consecutive rebound year, after one of the worst years for puffin populations in 2021.
August 17, 2023
Today in Augusta, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is holding a public hearing about proposed Clean Car and Clean Truck rules to help boost sales of zero-emission vehicles in Maine. NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro was interviewed for this Bangor Fox news story earlier this week. Read more about the reason these new standards are good for Maine and Maine businesses in this Bangor Daily News op-ed by Bumbleroot Farm co-founder Ben Whalen. Ruth Hennig of the Conservation Law Foundation and Defend Our Health also wrote an op-ed in support of these standards.
NPR spoke with Maine Governor Janet Mills earlier this week as part of the one-year anniversary of the federal Inflation Reduction Act and how Maine has used funds from that law to combat climate change.
The Forest Society of Maine and Friends of Wilson Ponds have an opportunity to permanently protect 3,000 acres of forests in Piscataquis County near Moosehead Lake. Conserving this land is not only important for wildlife but it will help Maine reach some of its climate goals from Maine Won’t Wait, the State’s Climate Action Plan. Hear from Forest Society of Maine Executive Director Karin Tilberg in her Portland Press Herald op-ed.
Forests are important for carbon sequestration, but a new report from the EPA also shares the importance of seagrass and coastal marshes to store carbon. Read more from Maine Public and download the full report.
The University of Maine was awarded a $6 million grant, which will help the team there improve electric grids for communities affected by climate change.
August 10, 2023
We are going to start this week’s news with a link to a Portland Press Herald op-ed written by NRCM’s new CEO, Rebeccah Sanders, “Mainers know a resilient economy is tied to a healthy environment.”
Another op-ed this week is from Dr. Peggy Penoyer, a physician who chairs the American Lung Association in Maine Leadership Board. Dr. Penoyer writes about how proposed Advanced Clean Car II and Advanced Clean Truck Rules can help people in Maine breathe easier, due to less pollution. A public hearing on these rules will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on Thursday, August 17 at 8:30 a.m.
NRCM and our partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Trust worked for 16 years to reopen 2,000 miles of habitat for Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish. This week, the Bangor Daily News editorial board wrote about the fact that Atlantic salmon are returning to the Penobscot in record numbers this year. Great news! We need them to return to the Kennebec, too, which will involve removing four dams from Waterville to Skowhegan.
Some not-so-good news this week is that an Associated Press story makes clear that the Endangered Species Act, which has been so important since its passage 50 years ago, may be “endangered” itself. Learn more.
Let’s end this week with some good news: Skowhegan, a town in Central Maine, is working to increase its outdoor trail offerings, with plans to add another nearly 40 miles to their current 28 miles of trails. This will make the town more walkable, which is actually not just “good news,” but great news in our book!
August 3, 2023
We always like to start off the month with some good news…so here it is: the Penobscot River is having record numbers of Atlantic salmon return to the river. This year may be the highest number in 10 years! NRCM and many partners worked together for 16 years to restore 2,000 miles of fish habitat to the Penobscot River by removing two dams and creating a state of the art fish bypass at another. Learn more about that project.
Did you have a chance to see the sturgeon swim upstream in Cobbosseecontee Stream in Gardiner this summer? It was amazing to see! Gardiner Mayor Patricia Hart writes, “The city of Gardiner witnessed a river restoration miracle this summer.” Read more from her op-ed in this weekend’s Kennebec Journal.
Last week, the Bangor Daily News editorial board shared its thoughts about the planned Aroostook transmission line and how skepticism by some should not mean that the project doesn’t move ahead. They should use the concerns to improve plans rather than get rid of the project, which could lower energy costs and help Maine meet our climate goals.
Wex (formerly Wright Express) is a well-known business to people in southern Maine. What some may not know though is that the company just announced $100 million investments in electric vehicles. Learn more in this Portland Press Herald piece.
This session, the Maine Legislature passed a bill that adds electric bikes (e-bikes) to Efficiency Maine’s electric vehicle rebates. Just south of us in Connecticut, that state has increased funding for their e-bike rebate program due to high demand (6,400 applications).