Each month, we highlight news stories and opinion pieces related to Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife. We update News & Noteworthy with the latest news related to the nature of Maine, including the work of staff at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
We told you some months ago about a proposal to build the world’s tallest flagpole in the small Washington County town of Columbia Falls. This week, town residents voted overwhelmingly (63-17) to put into place a moratorium on this controversial project for the next 180 days.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Outreach Coordinator Vanessa Berry testified in support of a bill that would require at least 30 minutes for each lunch period at Maine schools, in order to prevent food waste and give students more time to get through the line and have time to eat their lunch. Read Vanessa’s testimony.
The bad news of the week is a bad Biological Opinion from NOAA Fisheries, ignoring the threat to endangered Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish species posed by four dams on the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan. Read our news release to learn more.
What are some ways that offshore wind will affect Maine’s economy and energy? Find out in this WABI news story. Also learn about a bill being discussed in the Legislature related to a new wind farm and transmission infrastructure project proposed for Aroostook County. And, a scholarship program also in Aroostook County at Northern Maine Community College, is being started thanks to federal funding. This scholarship is for people to become certified wind power technicians in Maine.
In Bangor, a new program may help the city become more walkable, with investments made in the downtown area, paid for by federal grants. Making communities more walkable and bikeable is great for the environment as well as for the health of people biking and walking.
The Endangered Species Act has been around for 50 years, and there is still much work to be done to protect wildlife.
The Washington Post recently named three states: Maine, Illinois, and Minnesota as states to watch when it comes to climate legislation this year. Learn about Maine’s climate bills being discussed this session at the Legislature.
Though we are in Maine, we are very concerned, as are other groups nationwide, about the Willow Project, which was recently approved by the Biden Administration. This will allow oil drilling, further exacerbating the problem of climate change. Read this recent op-ed by Jean Flemma and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson to learn more.
One very noticeable result of climate change in Maine is the lack of ice on some of Maine’s lakes, including Sebago Lake, in the winter. Again this year, the annual ice fishing derby had to be canceled there due to lack of ice.
Each year, NRCM presents Conservation Leadership Awards to people and groups having a positive impact on Maine’s environment. Last year, one of our honorees was Dr. Steve Kress, founder of Project Puffin, who received our Lifetime Achievement Award. Learn more about Dr. Kress and his work from a recent Maine Monitor news story.
Another company is now showing interest in mining in Maine, this time it is Exiro Mineral Corp that is looking to mine in the Midcoast region. Area residents have come together to fight this proposal.
NRCM, along with the Penobscot Nation and other conservation organizations, announced this week that the owner of dams on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, Brookfield Renewable, has been violating the terms of the Endangered Species Act at the Milford Dam on the Penobscot, making it difficult for Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish to make their way up the river. NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett is quoted in this AP story as saying, “We need to see some action here because this problem has been festering for too long.” Read the full story here.
The Maine Legislature is discussing a bill that came out of the involvement of Hydro-Quebec in the CMP corridor campaign. Hydro-Quebec is a foreign government entity and spent a lot of money on the CMP corridor campaign. Maine residents signed a petition to ban foreign governments from influencing referendums in our state and hoped to have that added to the ballot for all Maine voters to weigh in on, but now it appears that the decision may be enacted by the Legislature so it wouldn’t need to go to the voters.
Maine’s US Senator Angus King is co-sponsoring a bill that would ban oil and gas drilling off the coast of Maine.
Read this op-ed by Maine State Senator Rick Bennett that calls for accountability and solutions from Casella Waste Systems, the company that handles sludge from municipal wastewater plants. The company claims it can’t stabilize landfills because of recent legislation to close a loophole that allowed out-of-state waste to fill up the State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.
A lawmaker has introduced a bill that would repeal Maine’s statewide single-use plastic bag ban, though environmental groups like NRCM and Don’t Waste ME as well as retailers and grocers think the bill is working well. Read testimony about the bill and why NRCM opposes it.
Residents of the town of Monson, near Moosehead Lake, recently approved using federal funds to bring high-speed broadband and an electric vehicle charging station to their town. Great news for local residents and visitors alike to this popular Maine destination.
A company that runs a factory in Brewer has just announced plans to open a second factory in Bangor, which will add 200 new jobs to the area so that the company can keep up with demand for their product: heat pump water heaters.
NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator Josh Caldwell spoke with Maine Public for their “Climate Driven” series, about how Maine State employees are commuting less and working remotely more, which is having the positive result of cutting down on our state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions: cars and trucks.
The University of Maine’s Mitchell Center for Sustainable Solutions is studying food waste at four Maine grade schools to learn more about food waste from Maine cafeterias. NRCM has put together a handbook about school food recovery that you can download or request in print for free.
Retiring President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce Dana Connors wrote an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald this week about the economic benefits and opportunities that would come with offshore wind in Maine.
Hear from NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols in this article about sludge disposal in Maine and the issues that are being caused by one waste collection company who is not “being a helpful partner to the towns.” Sarah is also quoted in this Bangor Daily News story about the failed Fiberight waste facility in Penobscot County.
Residents in Boothbay have a new bottle and can redemption center where they can return their beverage containers. Many redemption centers around the state have closed recently, so to have a new one open is welcome news!
Let’s start off with some beautiful Maine wildlife photos by NRCM member Dave Small of Old Town. Dave was featured in a recent Bangor Daily News story (thanks for the NRCM shout-out, Dave!). And we have featured some of Dave’s photos in a slideshow on our website, as well as in publications, including our Nature of Maine calendar.
While we are on the topic of Maine wildlife, we encourage you to read this Portland Press Herald article about species that the state wants to add to the endangered species list. Those species include the Saltmarsh Sparrow, Ashton’s cuckoo bumble bee, and more. NRCM supports the bill (LD 57), and Dr. Jeffrey Wells recently testified at the hearing. Read his testimony.
NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett is quoted in this article and this article about Wolfden’s new mining proposal for Pickett Mountain and how the Patten Planning Board members are skeptical of promises made by the company. Learn more about this proposal and why NRCM opposes it.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of landowners against the Nordic Aquafarm proposed for Belfast. It was decided that the rights to the intertidal zone belong to the landowners, many of whom opposed this project.
Another salmon aquaculture project is being proposed for Millinocket.
This winter, Maine temperatures are breaking records – coldest day and warmest day records were broken less than two weeks apart! Now, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute reports that the ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine almost beat the record for the warmest year, just short of the 2021 total by less than a half a degree. So, 2022 was the second warmest year on record for the Gulf of Maine, which is warming at a rate faster than 99% of the world’s oceans.
Read this powerful op-ed by Darren Ranco of the Penobscot Nation about climate change and its potential for devastating effects for Indigenous people in Maine.
Did you know that Maine has one of the largest networks of female hunters in the United States? Read this Portland Press Herald article about Christi Holmes, a Registered Maine Guide, and her work.
Wolfden has submitted a new application to create a mine at Pickett Mountain near Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The company says it has made major changes, but NRCM and others concerned about Maine’s environment disagree.
This isn’t a Maine news story, but NRCM has been involved for years in the Aveda Institute’s Earth Month Trashion Show where students create outfits out of recyclable materials. Money from the show is donated to NRCM to help support our clean water work. Well, Miss Thailand in the recent Miss Universe pageant had a similar dress — check it out.
ICYMI, Fortunat Mueller, cofounder and president of ReVision Energy, wrote a recent Bangor Daily News op-ed about how Maine-made solar power is saving Mainers money and fighting climate change at the same time.
Governor Mills announced in her State of the Budget address this week that she has set a goal of 100% of Maine’s electricity coming from renewable energy sources by 2040. She will submit legislation related to this goal soon.
We’ve shared a lot of news stories and editorials about the need to remove four dams from the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan in order to protect the endangered Atlantic salmon. NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett is quoted in this latest piece from Trout Unlimited. Learn more about what you can do to help protect salmon and other sea-run fish.
Speaking of electric vehicles, soon there will be fast-charging electric vehicle chargers in Baileyville, Presque Isle, and Fort Kent in northern Maine.
And now speaking of northern Maine: a grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Recreational Trails Program will help pay for a new 0.3-mile trail in Patten, in Aroostook County. The trail will be located behind the Patten Lumberman’s Museum.
Did you know that NRCM has a Regional Outreach Coordinator in Franklin County? Well, we do! His name is Marc Edwards, and he and other NRCM staff are working with Franklin County communities and beyond on a variety of projects, including bringing Atlantic salmon back to the Sandy River. Read more in this Sun Journal story.
The Maine Legislature will discuss many bills this session related to protection of Maine’s environment and climate. One bill had a public hearing yesterday. This bill would establish a zero-emission vehicle-to-grid pilot program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. NRCM supports this bill. You can read our testimony on this and other bills throughout the session on our bill tracking page.
Another bill NRCM supports is one to fully fund a pilot project called the Maine Climate Corps. NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator Josh Caldwell testified on the bill and is quoted in this Sun Journal news story.
Electric cars and trucks can qualify for rebates from Efficiency Maine, and a new bill would add electric bikes (e-bikes) to those rebates. Maine’s lakes are treasured by Mainers and visitors alike. They are also a large part of Maine’s economy.
Five more Maine public schools will be getting the majority of their electricity from a new solar array in Livermore Falls. Those schools are: Camden Hills Regional High School and the Camden-Rockport School District, Mount Blue Regional School District (Farmington area), Hope Elementary School, and RSU 73 (Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls).
Earlier this week, we joined Senator Mark Lawrence, University of Maine students, and others to announce a new offshore wind bill that will be discussed in the Legislature this session. If you missed the news, you can read stories from Maine Public, Portland Press Herald, News Center Maine, and WGME-13, as well as read this editorial from the Press Herald that includes a quote from NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro.
Wolfden Resources has submitted a new proposal for a zinc mine at Pickett Mountain near Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. Read our news release to find out why NRCM continues to oppose this proposal.
Acadia National Park will receive millions of dollars in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act to update its water systems, which were installed in the 1970s.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols is quoted in a recent Sun Journal article with tips for recycling and reuse in the Bethel area. Read the full article.
The big news of the week is that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that it is moving ahead with the review of the first floating offshore solar array for research in federal waters — 29 miles off the coast of Maine. Read our statement about this news.
The High Peaks Alliance in Franklin County received $2 million in federal funding to build a multi-use bridge to connect Farmington and Jay on the Whistle Stop Trail. That will allow people to get to downtown Farmington from this trail, which also provides access to wheelchair- accessible trails on land owned by the University of Maine Farmington and the town of Farmington. Great news!
A recent report found that Maine’s recycling rates during the pandemic are lower than in past years, only recycling 34% in 2020 and 2021. Maine’s state goal for recycling is 50%. NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols spoke with News Center Maine yesterday to share her thoughts about why Maine’s recycling numbers are down.
NRCM got mentioned in the top stories from Aroostook County for the second half of 2022 due to our meeting with residents in Patten who are concerned, like we are, about a plan from Wolfden Resources to mine at a mountain very close to Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument and Baxter State Park.
Happy New Year! As we rang out 2022, the Natural Resources Council of Maine once again hosted our annual Polar Bear Dip & Dash, back in person, this year at a new venue: the Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. We had almost 150 dippers and/or dashers, and many more staff, volunteers, and people cheering on the runners and ocean dippers. Here is some of the coverage of this fun-filled event, which raises funds for our climate mitigation work.
Some more good news to start 2023: the York River becomes the second river in Maine (the Allagash being the first) to receive “Wild and Scenic” federal designation. This will help with wildlife protection, clean water, and sea-level rise protections.
Recently the Environmental Protection Agency repealed a change made during President Trump’s administration that put clean water at risk. According to this Associated Press story, “President Joe Biden’s administration…finalized regulations that protect hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, repealing a Trump-era rule that federal courts had thrown out and that environmentalists said left waterways vulnerable to pollution.”
Maine and federal lawmakers have earmarked millions of dollars in funding to help Maine communities in all 16 counties to work on climate initiatives from climate-friendly farming to developing renewable energy sources, and so much more. Read this Maine Monitor article for more specifics about the funding and how it will be used.
As we wrote last month, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is currently working on implementation of Maine’s first-in-the-nation Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging Law. Learn more in this Gorham Times piece.