Read some highlights from June 2022 news stories and opinion pieces related to the environment, including Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife, in this News & Noteworthy from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
June 29, 2022
We are going to cover the news from the past two weeks in this week’s News & Noteworthy.
We don’t think she is nerdy, but self-proclaimed “trash nerd” and NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols was featured in this month’s Sierra Club magazine, highlighting her work and the work of other Maine groups and individuals, to pass a first-in-the-nation Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law. Oregon and Colorado have since passed their own legislation.
Governor Mills and her administration announced a new $15 million program to help Maine communities, public schools, and Tribal governments to reduce energy costs through energy efficiency improvements. This announcement came during a Maine Climate Council conference in Augusta.
Read this New York Times op-ed to learn about the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate, where it has a good chance of passing. This bill, if passed, includes $1.39 billion for wildlife conservation.
More news from Washington: Maine’s US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King released a joint statement in strong support of a new partnership between the US Department of Energy and Mount Desert Island to strengthen energy infrastructure and speed access to clean power, helping the environment and the island’s economy.
Fifty years ago, Maine’s US Senator Edmund Muskie championed the federal Clean Water Act after being inspired by the dirty, polluted Androscoggin River, along which he grew up. Now, 50 years later, thanks to this legislation, people can fish and swim in the river. Now that’s something to celebrate! Speaking of Clean Water Act celebrations, join our partners and us as we celebrate this milestone throughout 2022. Learn more.
The Maine Monitor mentioned four bills from the last legislative session related to Maine’s environment. These are all bills that NRCM followed and testified on. See the full list of bills that we tracked and worked on last session.
Portland, Maine, is working to reduce its waste, and one way that it is doing that is to help residents compost their food scraps. According to this Waste360 article, “On Earth Day (April) in 2021 Portland launched five food scrap drop-off locations to target that stream, pulling from the solid waste budget to be able to offer this service free to residents, with their discards supplying an aerobic digestion operation at Maine’s second largest farm.”
And we will end this edition of News & Noteworthy with this MaineBiz article about the economic impact of national parks and national monuments in Maine. We know visitor numbers at national parks are at all-time highs, and according to this article, “The total of 4.1 million visits supported 7,070 jobs and had a cumulative economic output of $770 million.”
June 16, 2022
The Greater Portland Council of Governments is partnering with five Maine towns (Cumberland, Yarmouth, Freeport, North Yarmouth, and Brunswick) to apply for funding to help the towns reduce their climate emissions and increase opportunities like additional electric vehicle charging stations. Learn more from the Portland Press Herald.
Along with these southern and Midcoast Maine towns, communities in Aroostook County are going all-in with a large number of proposed solar power projects. Read more in the Bangor Daily News.
Maine was the first state in the nation to pass an extended producer responsibility for packaging law in 2021, and that will ensure that corporations pay for the cost of recycling packaging material rather than Maine taxpayers and municipalities who currently foot the bill. In a recent Grist article, almost half of all Amazon shareholders agreed that now is the time to cut back on plastic packaging.
As we all start planning our summer outdoor adventures, the Bangor Daily News highlights the fact that all roads in Maine’s North Woods are private so it shares some useful tips and information before you head out to explore.
Two Midcoast communities are featured in this Portland Press Herald piece about some new projects that will receive Land for Maine’s Future funding. Do you want to explore some Land for Maine’s Future lands? Let us help! We are adding new locations right now to our Explore Maine Map. Check it out and find places in all 16 Maine counties to hike, paddle, ski, camp, and more.
June 9, 2022
Two pieces of good news will start this week’s News & Noteworthy, and both are about public land in Maine! The first is Governor Mills’ announcement earlier this week that 20 new projects are being funded by the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program. This will protect these lands and make them available for Mainers and visitors to enjoy. Last year, the governor’s budget included $40 million for the LMF, the first new funding in nearly a decade. This popular land conservation program has protected thousands of acres of forests, water access, working waterfronts, working farmlands, and more in all 16 Maine counties. The other good news is that Governor Mills announced yesterday a plan for $50 million in improvements, maintenance, and upgrades to our State Parks.
Last week we mentioned our 2022 Brookie Award winners, and this week, another one of the awardees, Kiara Frischkorn of Biddeford, is featured in today’s Portland Press Herald.
Watching the alewife runs in Maine in mid- to late May are always exciting. This year, if you weren’t able to get to see them in person, you can enjoy this photo journal from the Portland Press Herald of the run at Mill Brook in Westbrook.
Yesterday, the Department of Interior announced the phase-out of plastic water bottles and other items at national parks and other public lands under its jurisdiction.
And finally this week, take a few minutes to listen to our latest podcast, released today, in which our Advocacy Communications Director Colin Durrant speaks with NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett about the proposed American Aquafarms project in Frenchman Bay, why NRCM and other groups oppose it, and the harm it could cause the environment.
June 3, 2022
Last month we featured a news story about avid angler Willie Grenier. No worries if you missed it as the Bangor Daily News recently did another story about Willie and his fishing on the Kennebec River.
Next month, NRCM will be celebrating the 2022 Brookie Award winners, six outstanding young environmentalists that are having a big impact on Maine’s environmental movement. One of this year’s Brookies is Lucas Healy of Castine. Learn more about Lucas in this piece from the Ellsworth American. Another Brookie, Anna Siegel, was featured in this Forecaster news story, for her work to protect the climate. And Greg LeClair of Waterville, founder of Maine Big Night, is featured in this column in the Kennebec Journal.
Several years ago, NRCM supported a bill to restore alewives in the St. Croix River. Now, another step toward a freeflowing St. Croix River has happened. The Passamaquoddy Tribe and State of Maine have signed a deal to protect this river (also known as the Schoodic River) and restore fish to this river. Learn more in this Maine Public story.
Speaking of restored fisheries, a recent Bangor Daily News story shares the good news that more Atlantic salmon are returning to this Penobscot River this year, after a not-so-great year in 2021.
And finally this week, the City of Belfast just tripled its electric car charging capacity as the residents there try to make the city energy independent. Learn more from the Bangor Daily News.