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.
June 24, 2021
New Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Maine and spent time at Acadia National Park, including watching the sun rise on Cadillac Mountain!
The Maine Legislature passed a number of bills to protect Maine people and the environment from “forever chemicals,” including one signed into law by Governor Mills this week.
We continue to work with our partners and others to remove four dams on the Kennebec River that block passage for Atlantic salmon. This week, Trout Unlimited and the Atlantic Salmon Federation released news that Brookfield has harmed Atlantic salmon at the Lockwood Dam in Waterville. Read more in the Bangor Daily News.
Nature is a place of healing for many people, including Abdi Nor Iftin, who fled civil wars in Somalia. Read his story on afar.com.
A new report calls for 2.3 million acres of land in specific areas and habitats across New England to be protected in order to ensure protection of native plants and species dependent upon them.
Today it was announced that Governor Mills signed a bill into law that makes Maine the ninth state to adopt energy storage deployment targets.
The Portland Press Herald editorial board writes about the increase in visitors to the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument and how it has helped grow the region’s economy and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Maine’s ban on single-use plastic bags begins next week, on July 1st. Here is a Bangor Daily News story that shares important information for shoppers to know as enforcement of this ban begins.
June 16, 2021
There is a lot of news right now, as the Maine Legislature enters its final days for the 2021 session. NRCM members and others headed to the State House yesterday to speak with legislators in support of recycling reform, specifically LD 1541. This bill would create an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law, saving taxpayers and towns more than $16 million each year. Read this recent Sun Journal op-ed in support of LD 1541. This Washington Post article also quotes NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols in this piece about the EPR bill.
In other legislative action, the Maine Legislature approved a ban on aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on Maine’s woods. Read more in the Portland Press Herald.
NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim is quoted in this Maine Public story about a bill that would ban foreign government-owned companies from interfering in Maine’s elections.
We end this week with some more good news: With more and more people visiting national parks and other public lands, it is no surprise that attendance at Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument reached 41,000 visitors in 2020. Those visitors spent $2.7 million in local communities near the Monument, too. Learn more about the Monument’s positive impact in this Maine Public piece.
June 10, 2021
Since the sun is shining brightly this morning as we share this week’s news with you, we will start off with some solar news from Brunswick and Milo. First, Brunswick elected officials are considering a 20-year contract for solar power that would be used to power school and municipal buildings in their town. And in Milo, a new 67,000-panel solar array, the largest in the state, is now online!
Colin Woodard wrote a recent news story about NRCM and our partners’ intention to sue the owners of four dams on the Kennebec River that are violating the Endangered Species Act and blocking important spawning habitat for the endangered Atlantic salmon.
Maine is known for lots of crops, with potatoes and blueberries being at the top of the list. In this Associated Press news story, learn about the effects of climate change on our state’s important blueberry industry.
Speaking of climate change, former Congressman David Emery writes about the need to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their climate change pollution instead of shifting costs and responsibility to taxpayers.
The Maine State House and Senate have voted to divest State funds from the fossil fuels, being the first state in the US to do so.
Retired US Army colonel Steve Ball writes about the healing power he finds in nature in this Bangor Daily News opinion piece, sharing his support for Land for Maine Future and other funding to protect public lands for all to enjoy.
Laura Marston, owner of GoGo Refill in South Portland, urges legislators to support LD 1541, a bill to reform recycling of packaging materials in Maine, in her recent American Journal op-ed. NRCM has been working on this high priority bill, and we also urge you to contact your legislators to ask then to support this bill.
We will end this week with a book recommendation. Thomas Urquhart, former Maine Audubon executive director, has written a book about the battle for Maine’s public lands over the years. Learn more about Thomas’ new book, Up for Grabs: Timber Pirates, Lumber Barons, and the Battles Over Maine’s Public Lands, in the Bangor Daily News.
June 3, 2021
The Maine Legislature is discussing LD 1541, a bill that would reform recycling in Maine by passing an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law. This bill would help make recycling more effective by requiring big corporations like Amazon and Wal-Mart to reimburse towns for costs of managing wasteful packaging. Late last week, the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee voted Ought to Pass an Amended, so the bill now heads to the House and Senate for discussion and votes.
The Legislature is also discussing funding for the very popular and important Land for Maine’s Future program, which has protected land in all 16 Maine counties for residents and visitors to enjoy. It also protects working farms and waterfronts. Each time LMF funding has been on the ballot, Mainers have supported it in overwhelming numbers. This year, we need to get it on the ballot again, to help protect important natural places around the state. Read a recent op-ed from The Trust for Public Land and LL Bean.
In good news out of Washington, DC, President Biden’s administration this week suspended all Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil leases that were issued by the previous administration.
NRCM Staff Scientist and Healthy Waters Director Nick Bennett is quoted in this Bangor Daily News article about the comeback of river herring in Maine.
A former Republican state senator, Stacey Fitts, wrote this recent op-ed encouraging Maine to tap into our renewable energy potential.
Finally this week, we circle back to bills being discussed by the Maine Legislature. A bill to create a consumer-owned utility in Maine to replace CMP and Versant, passed through the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee with a 9-2 vote earlier this week.