Read 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.
March 25, 2021
Plastic pollution continues to be on the minds of many Mainers, including lawmakers who this week discussed a bill to ban single-use plastic water bottles. And this teen urges Maine to support the plastic bag ban passed by the Maine Legislature in 2019. And Maine US Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, the chair of the environment subcommittee of Congress’s Appropriations Committee, pledged that this committee will work on the important issue of plastic pollution in our world’s oceans.
Have you heard this great news for the Moosehead Lake region? Mountain bike trails are coming! What a fun way to explore this beautiful part of Maine. Learn more.
Did you know that more than three million people visited Maine’s State Parks last year? And camping reservations are up 70% this year already! Listen to this Maine Public story and then start planning your Maine outdoor adventures for this summer.
State Senator Rick Bennett wrote a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed in support of bills to stop foreign interference in Maine elections, like the $10 million Hydro-Quebec has spent to try to sway Mainers to support the controversial transmission corridor proposed by CMP, which would financially benefit both companies.
Exciting bird news! According to US Fish and Wildlife, Bald Eagle populations have quadrupled since 2009.
Governor Mills signed a bill into law that creates a process for developing racial impact statements for proposed legislation.
The Ellsworth American takes a look at the growth in solar projects across Hancock County and how they’re helping the state meet its climate goals and The Bangor Daily News reports on three solar projects in rural Maine that will receive a federal grant to get off the ground.
March 18, 2021
If you live in or like to visit the Ellsworth area, we have some good news. Greater Ellsworth will soon be getting a 1,400-acre community forest and recreation trails. Read more from the Bangor Daily News.
This week, the Waterville City Council voted to support a resolution about packaging recycling. They are the 25th Maine municipality to pass a resolution in support of Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, a top priority for NRCM. Learn more about how your town can pass a resolution, and see the full list of towns in support. A recent letter in the Seacoast Online also supports the proposed EPR for Packaging law that NRCM and others have been working on.
On Monday, the Department of Marine Resources held a virtual public meeting to discuss the Kennebec River Management Plan amendment. NRCM is supportive of the removal of four dams from Waterville to Skowhegan. These antiquated dams are blocking fish passage for Atlantic salmon and other species. Hear more from NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett in this News Center Maine story. Learn more about the public hearing in this Morning Sentinel article.
A Maine Superior Court judge ruled that the Bureau of Public Lands did not have the authority to sign a lease with Central Maine Power across public lands in order for CMP to build its controversial transmission corridor. There is also a bill being discussed in the Legislature (LD 471) related to the issue of leases on public lands. Learn more on our legislative bill tracking page, and read NRCM testimony in support of that bill, which had a public hearing today.
In another bill related to the CMP corridor, Maine legislators discussed a bill to limit foreign influence on Maine elections. Hydro-Quebec has spent millions of dollars to try to influence decisions around ballot measures related to the transmission line. NRCM’s Pete Didisheim testified on the bill (LD 194) this week.
After voting down a moratorium on renewable energy projects, Monmouth has approved a solar project planned on 55 acres in this Central Maine town.
March 11, 2021
The Midcoast area has rallied against a number of large energy projects proposed over the years. The latest proposal from Summit Natural Gas has now scrapped due to local opposition to the plan.
Learn more about this issue and other noteworthy news related to Maine’s environment in the latest edition of our Frontline Voices podcast.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols was the guest on Maine Public’s Maine Calling, discussing Maine’s landfills and the challenges we face with effective waste management.
This week the Lewiston Planning Board approved a 101-acre solar array that could bring the city $500,000 annually in taxes.
Let’s end this week with a book suggestion by NRCM CEO Lisa Pohlmann, who was featured in the Portland Press Herald’s Bedside Table book reads for the week.
March 4, 2021
Vaughan Woodruff, owner of Insource Renewables and a 2020 NRCM Conservation Leadership Award recipient, wrote an op-ed in today’s Portland Press Herald about the need to do more to hold Central Maine Power accountable.
The Atlantic printed this piece in February, but it’s worth sharing this week as Efficiency Maine is featured prominently. Learn about the benefits of heat pumps as a way to fight climate change.
As you may know, NRCM works to reduce plastic pollution in Maine and beyond. In 2019, Maine became the first state in the nation to ban foam food containers, and the fourth state to enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Due to COVID, the enforcement of the ban got pushed to July 2021. During the 2021 legislative session, three bills were introduced to remove the ban. This week, the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted to keep the ban in place. Read more on this vote in this week’s Portland Press Herald.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols is featured in this Bloomberg article, talking about the loophole in Maine law that allows out-of-state waste to be dumped in State-owned landfills in Maine, like the one at Juniper Ridge in Old Town. We are working to close that loophole during this legislative session. Sign our petition in support of closing that loophole to protect surrounding communities
Maine’s Allagash River was the first to receive federal Wild and Scenic River status and protection, and is currently the only river in Maine to receive that designation. That may change soon, with the York River receiving a positive vote by the US House of Representatives on a bill to give it “wild and scenic” designation.
Also in Washington, DC, Maine’s US Senator Angus King just this week was named the Chair of the subcommittee on National Parks, which oversees all US National Parks as well as national monuments like Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument.
More news from Washington: Maine’s Senator Susan Collins confirmed that she will support President Biden’s nomination of Representative Deb Haaland for the Cabinet-level position of Secretary of the Interior.
The Maine Legislature held its first public hearing on a bill that would ban the use of aerial herbicides including glyphosate that cause serious environmental damage and have been linked to cancer. NRCM’s Forests & Wildlife Director Melanie Sturm testified in support of this bill.