Here are some highlights from this month’s news stories and opinion pieces related to the environment, including Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife, in this month’s News & Noteworthy from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
July 29, 2021
News about Maine being the first state in the nation to pass an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging bill is still coming. Here’s the latest, featuring NRCM’s Sarah Nichols, from Zerohedge.com. And don’t miss last week’s New York Times story, also featuring Sarah.
In more good sustainability news, the University of Maine at Farmington and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are helping to reduce food waste in the area by making composting more accessible for local residents.
Karin Tilberg, President/CEO of the Forest Society of Maine, recently wrote an op-ed about the importance of forests in relation to climate change. She writes, in part, “A little-known fact is that the forests in Maine absorb or sequester more than 60 percent of human-made greenhouse gases generated in the state every year. This underscores the importance of retaining Maine’s forests so they can continue to sequester carbon as well as provide opportunities for the forest products industry and outdoor recreation.” Read the full Piscataquis Observer op-ed.
Speaking of climate change: many of us in Maine (and across the country) have been dealing with unhealthy air due to smoke from western US and Canadian wildfires this week. This Bangor Daily News column explains how, with climate change, these smoky days might become more common.
Maine’s US Senator Angus King is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, and he and his colleagues are looking for ways to protect our national parks from the sharp increase in park visitors/users while also keeping them accessible to all.
Maine Beer Company, a member of the Maine Brewshed Alliance, just made a substantial gift toward the effort to preserve Little Whaleboat Island for public access. The island is in Casco Bay off Harpswell. Learn more from the Portland Press Herald.
People in Skowhegan will have a chance to vote on a solar project that would be built on the site of a closed former landfill. Learn more in this Kennebec Journal news story.
July 22, 2021
Good news to start out this week’s News & Noteworthy: seven new tent sites are available at the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument thanks to generous donations from the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, LL Bean, and The National Park Foundation.
Some more good news: NRCM Rising partnered with others to do a litter clean-up at Thompson’s Point in Portland last night. About 70 people cleaned up the area and also learned more about NRCM’s work to reduce plastic pollution. Thanks to everyone who came out for this event.
Mali Obomsawin wrote an op-ed in today’s Kennebec Journal about the importance of clean and free-flowing waterways and the need to remove the four dams on the Kennebec River that are blocking Atlantic salmon passage. Removing these dams is the best chance for restoring endangered Atlantic salmon populations.
NRCM continues to oppose Wolfden Resources’ proposal to mine at Pickett Mountain near both Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. A recent Bangor Daily News story shares recent criticism of claims made to investors by Wolfden’s CEO. Learn more about this proposal and why NRCM opposes it.
Two Maine towns recently approved renewable energy projects: Brunswick signed a contract with ReVision Energy to power their municipal and school buildings, which will save them about $1.8 million over the next 20 years. And, Bangor is making plans to install a two-megawatt solar array in the city.
Legislators weighed in on the controversial CMP corridor in several ways in the past week. The Legislature held a symbolic vote of opposition as a state judge expressed concern about the illegal leases granted to CMP to cross public lands.. After a visit to Western Maine, a group of lawmakers expressed concern about CMP’s practices. One of those legislators, Senator Black, wrote about the experience.
July 15, 2021
The biggest news of the week here is that Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging bill into law on July 12th. Maine is the first state in the nation to join more than 40 jurisdictions around the world (including the European Union and several Canadian provinces) in making companies that produce the packaging pay the costs of recycling, rather than leaving that burden to Maine taxpayers and municipalities. Read more in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Seacoast Online. NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols explains how this law will work in a recent blog post.
The Legislature has adjourned, but two legislators wrote a recent Bangor Daily News op-ed to celebrate the investment in the Land for Maine’s Future program that will take place now that the biennial budget has been signed and gone into effect. Forty million dollars over four years after many years without funding is great news for Maine! And thanks to another bill, Maine will be able to begin better protecting deer wintering habitat, too!
Speaking of land conservation, enjoy this News Center Maine video trip to Baxter State Park with Registered Maine Guide Christi Holmes.
There was much good news in the Maine Legislature this year. One of those victories was the state banning “forever chemicals” that are toxic and bad for public health and the environment.
July 8, 2021
An op-ed in today’s Kennebec Journal urges Governor Mills to sign into law LD 1541, the bill that passed the Maine House and Senate and would create an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law, requiring large corporations to help pay for the costs of recycling their packaging materials, rather than leaving those costs to Maine taxpayers.
Bath, Maine, home to Bath Iron Works, one of Maine’s largest employers, is one of the Maine towns facing the greatest risk from climate change and the resulting sea-level rise. Learn more in this Bangor Daily News story.
As NRCM and thousands of others around the state continue to oppose the proposed Central Maine Power corridor, we learned recently that a coalition of Indigenous tribes from Canada is filing suit against Quebec’s government to stop this CMP and Hydro-Quebec project.
And in some of the best news of the week, the bipartisan budget bill passed by the Maine Legislature and signed by Governor Mills, includes $40 million over four years to fund the Land for Maine’s Future program, which hadn’t received new funding since 2012. Hurray!
July 1, 2021
Two members of the Maine Climate Council, Ania Wright and Maulian Dana, wrote a recent Bangor Daily News op-ed about how a consumer-owned utility like the one proposed during this session of the Maine Legislature, would both honor Maine’s Indigenous people and help future generations of Mainers.
Speaking of electricity, a $25 million solar farm has been proposed for Buxton, in southwestern Maine. It would provide enough power to light every household in the town “and then some.”
After some delay due to the pandemic, Maine’s single-use plastic bag and foam food container bans will be enforced beginning today, statewide. NRCM’s Sarah Nichols is quoted in this Maine Public story.