Read some highlights from news stories and opinion pieces related to the environment, including Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife:
Let’s start with some great news about a few of the bills that NRCM has been involved with this legislative session:
- Tuesday, Governor Mills signed into law LD 736, a bill to expand Maine’s ecological reserve system. This is great news for Maine and will protect more habitat in the future.
- Also this week, the Maine House and Senate both unanimously supported a bill to reclassify and upgrade water quality standards in more than 800 miles of Maine rivers. The bill has now headed to Governor Mills’ desk for her signature.
Now is the time to start reducing our food waste for many reasons: to reduce what waste goes into our landfills; to help the climate; and to provide food to people in need, as much of the food waste that is thrown out is edible and could be used.
Alec Giffen, the former director of the Maine Forest Service, wrote an op-ed in this week’s Bangor Daily News about how Maine’s forests can be used to fight climate change.
It’s been a while since we have mentioned the proposed CMP corridor, but this week it was announced that the Maine Board of Environmental Protection will be hearing appeals against the controversial transmission line in Maine.
This may come as no surprise to Mainers, but last year was the hottest year on record in the Gulf of Maine, which threatens our lobster and fishing industries as well as the survival of puffin chicks. Not a record we wanted to break. Learn more from Colin Woodard’s piece in the Portland Press Herald. And if rising temperatures isn’t enough bad news for Maine fish, there is new research that raises concerns about PFAS (“forever chemicals”) in Maine fish.
Bangor High School senior Ogechi Obi has created an alternative to single-use plastics using cellulose nanofibers, a plant material that can be used to produce paper and is used in 3-D printing. Read more about her project, and then listen to an interview with Ogechi in our latest Frontline Voices podcast, just out today!
In the past few years, we have been learning a lot about PFAS contamination of Maine farmlands and other soil. In order to help protect Mainers from future PFAS-contamination, Bill Lippincott, chair of the group Don’t Waste ME, shares his thoughts about the need to change Maine waste laws, including closing the loophole that allows State-owned landfills to be filled with out-of-state waste.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols is quoted in this Maine Public story about the bill (LD 1639) to close the loophole in Maine law that allows our State-owned landfill at Juniper Ridge to be filled with out-of-state waste.
Here is some additional recent news about Maine’s problem with PFAS (also called “forever chemicals”) and what needs to be done:
- The Guardian story about Maine farmers facing lost incomes and livelihoods due to PFAS.
- The Maine Legislature is considering a $100 million relief fund for farmers with PFAS-contaminated soil. Read more from NRCM Board member Ben Whalen in his recent blog in support of this bill. Also, the Portland Press Herald editorial board supports passage of this bill.
Another town has decided to intervene in the American Aquafarms application for an aquaculture farm in Frenchman Bay near Acadia National Park.
Read this article, which is part of a book titled Unbossed: How Black Girls Are Leading the Way, about Amara Ifeji, who moved to Maine from Nigeria when she was nine and now is having “a significant impact on her home state as a climate and racial justice activist” through her work at the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network.
With spring having just arrived in Maine, many of us are ready to put winter behind us, but before you do that, we encourage you to read this article about NRCM member Wendy Weiger and her winter living alone in her one-room cabin in northern Maine, 10 miles from the nearest paved road! Wendy has spent this winter documenting her life via short YouTube videos.
Much of the news today is news about NRCM. Yesterday, longtime CEO Lisa Pohlmann announced her plans to retire after more than 11 years leading this organization. Here is a collection of news of yesterday’s announcement:
NRCM’s Senior Advocate Rebecca Schultz is quoted in this Bangor Daily News article about how electric vehicle charging station infrastructure in Maine is changing, including increased fast-charging projects being developed for Washington and Aroostook Counties.
NRCM testified in support of a bill (LD 906) to improve water quality to Passamaquoddy Tribe members who live at Pleasant Point in Washington County. Read more about this water crisis and then read our testimony in support of bill. Then, contact your Maine legislators to urge them to support this bill.
Every three years, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection reviews river classifications and makes suggestions for changes to those classifications in order to better protect Maine’s clean water. Those suggestions are presented to the Maine Legislature as a bill (LD 1964). This year, more than 800 miles of rivers are up for reclassification, including sections of the West Branch of the Penobscot River, parts of the Androscoggin River, and more. NRCM supports this bill.
We are starting off this News & Noteworthy with big congratulations to Portland’s Leeward Restaurant for its recent James Beard nominations. Just this week Leeward hosted a fundraiser in support of NRCM’s work to protect Maine. Thank you and congrats, Leeward!
Further down the coast, in York County, the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission is working on a regional climate change plan to help nine towns along the southern Maine coast plan and adapt for sea-level rise changes.
NRCM supports a bill in the Maine Legislature that would create a climate education pilot program in Maine’s public schools. Learn more about this bill and what it could do for Maine schools and students.
Two Maine legislators, Representative Vicki Doudera (D-Camden) and Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford) wrote a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed in support of a bill (LD 1467) that NRCM also supports, which would increase the amount of recycled plastic required in plastic bottles.
As part of its Climate Driven series, Maine Public shares this story about the changes in bird populations in Maine due to our state’s warming climate. Learn more.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols was a guest on WVOM radio, talking about a bill (LD 1639) to close a loophole in Maine law that currently allows out-of-state waste to fill up our State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill. Listen to the full interview. The bill received bipartisan support as it was voted out of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee as “Ought to Pass” by a vote of 11-2 earlier this week.
After two years of not having a municipal recycling program, some towns in Hancock County have once again made recycling available.
A new year-round ski resort in the Moosehead region is raising some concern from area residents who are concerned that it may be too large a project. The Land Use Planning Commission will be discussing this project.
We haven’t mentioned the Central Maine Power proposed transmission corridor for a while in News & Noteworthy. We will end this week with an update, three months after Mainers overwhelmingly voted to oppose the project. Hear from NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim and others about our work to ensure that this project doesn’t move forward.
NRCM and other conservation organizations have supported the Land for Maine’s Future program for decades. Last year’s budget funding added $40 million over four years to fund the LMF program, after more than a decade of no funding. The Bangor Daily News editorial board agrees that this program is good for Maine. Read more about five projects that recently received LMF funding.
And to end this week’s news on a high note, the Environmental Protection Agency has reversed another action taken by the former Trump Administration and will restart enforcement of mercury emission limits from power plants.
New Jersey’s governor has signed a new recycled content bill into law this week. “The law establishes recycled content requirements starting in 2024 for certain plastic, glass and paper packaging and bans polystyrene packing peanuts,” according to this article in Wastedive. The Maine Legislature will be discussing a bill carried over from the 2021 session that would increase recycled content in plastic bottles (LD 1467). Learn about this and other bills being discussed this legislative session.
Surprise! Ok, not really. We aren’t surprised to learn that Maine’s State Parks have set another attendance record in 2021. More than 3.3 million people visited our State Parks, beating the record set in 2020. Read more in the Bangor Daily News. Along with record visits to Maine State Parks, it appears that a record number of visitors are coming to Maine to hunt and fish during the pandemic, too.
Some great land conservation news this week: 15 projects conserving more than 50,000 acres were funded recently through the Maine Community Foundation’s Maine Land Protection grant program.
NRCM and other groups reached a settlement with CMP to help get new solar projects hooked up to the Clean-energy advocates and other parties have reached a settlement with Central Maine Power aimed at easing long delays in hooking up solar projects to the grid. Now our hope is that the Public Utilities Commission will approve the settlement. Read more in the Portland Press Herald.
The Maine Beacon recently shared an opinion piece about the State wanting to hear from Mainers about what environmental justice means in Maine. The op-ed includes information about upcoming conversations and opportunities to get involved.
NRCM was happy to once again sponsor the Down East magazine reader photo contest. We selected one of the winners and thought all of this year’s photos were spectacular. Read more about the contest and view this year’s award-winning photos. Thank you, Down East!
And some news that has been getting a lot of people excited: a visit to Maine from a rare Steller’s Sea Eagle. There have been lots of posts, stories, photos, and videos from people who have seen this very large bird, with up to an eight-foot wing span!
Would it really be a News & Noteworthy without an update about our work to stop the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor through western Maine? Here is this week’s update on the challenge by CMP’s parent company Avangrid to Maine’s new law that went into effect last month after Maine voters resoundingly opposed the corridor at the November ballot box.
A former mine in Brooksville, Maine, has been a Superfund site, with clean-up beginning more than a decade ago in 2010. The polluting mine was closed in 1972. Thanks to the federal infrastructure bill, it looks like this clean-up will get a big boost in funding!