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 March 2022 News & Noteworthy from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
March 31, 2022
Let’s start with some great news about a few of the bills that NRCM has been involved with this legislative session:
- Tuesday, Governor Mills signed into law LD 736, a bill to expand Maine’s ecological reserve system. This is great news for Maine and will protect more habitat in the future.
- Also this week, the Maine House and Senate both unanimously supported a bill to reclassify and upgrade water quality standards in more than 800 miles of Maine rivers. The bill has now headed to Governor Mills’ desk for her signature.
In other news, environmentalists around the globe are urging countries to move faster to protect biodiversity. Read more in this Bangor Daily News story.
Now is the time to start reducing our food waste for many reasons: to reduce what waste goes into our landfills; to help the climate; and to provide food to people in need, as much of the food waste that is thrown out is edible and could be used.
Alec Giffen, the former director of the Maine Forest Service, wrote an op-ed in this week’s Bangor Daily News about how Maine’s forests can be used to fight climate change.
Did you know that a new study from the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences found that adding river herring to the Penobscot River may be a way to protect the Atlantic salmon population of that river? Learn more.
It’s been a while since we have mentioned the proposed CMP corridor, but this week it was announced that the Maine Board of Environmental Protection will be hearing appeals against the controversial transmission line in Maine.
This may come as no surprise to Mainers, but last year was the hottest year on record in the Gulf of Maine, which threatens our lobster and fishing industries as well as the survival of puffin chicks. Not a record we wanted to break. Learn more from Colin Woodard’s piece in the Portland Press Herald. And if rising temperatures isn’t enough bad news for Maine fish, there is new research that raises concerns about PFAS (“forever chemicals”) in Maine fish.
We will end this week’s News & Noteworthy as we started it, with some good news! Bangor high school senior Ogechi Obi has created an alternative to single-use plastics using cellulose nanofibers, a plant material that can be used to produce paper and is used in 3-D printing. Read more about her project, and then listen to an interview with Ogechi in our latest Frontline Voices podcast, just out today!
March 24, 2022
If you live in Maine, you have seen your share of blue tarps — covering cars, boats, on rooftops…but did you know that those blue tarps may be the reason microplastics are being found in Maine soils, snails, and slugs? Learn more in this Bangor Daily News article.
In the past few years, we have been learning a lot about PFAS contamination of Maine farmlands and other soil. In order to help protect Mainers from future PFAS-contamination, Bill Lippincott, chair of the group Don’t Waste ME, shares his thoughts about the need to change Maine waste laws, including closing the loophole that allows State-owned landfills to be filled with out-of-state waste.
NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols is quoted in this Maine Public story about the bill (LD 1639) to close the loophole in Maine law that allows our State-owned landfill at Juniper Ridge to be filled with out-of-state waste.
Here is some additional recent news about Maine’s problem with PFAS (also called “forever chemicals”) and what needs to be done:
- The Guardian story about Maine farmers facing lost incomes and livelihoods due to PFAS.
- The Maine Legislature is considering a $100 million relief fund for farmers with PFAS-contaminated soil. Read more from NRCM Board member Ben Whalen in his recent blog in support of this bill. Also, the Portland Press Herald editorial board supports passage of this bill.
In wildlife news, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending an addition to the list of endangered species. USFWS is proposing listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered, due to their high number of deaths from a deadly fungus.
Portland’s City Council has approved a deal to provide more than 40 electric vehicle charging stations around the city on public property. Speaking of cars and combatting climate change, Darlings Auto will begin using solar energy to power three of its dealerships around Maine.
Another town has decided to intervene in the American Aquafarms application for an aquaculture farm in Frenchman Bay near Acadia National Park.
Read this article, which is part of a book titled Unbossed: How Black Girls Are Leading the Way, about Amara Ifeji, who moved to Maine from Nigeria when she was nine and now is having “a significant impact on her home state as a climate and racial justice activist” through her work at the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network.
With spring having just arrived in Maine, many of us are ready to put winter behind us, but before you do that, we encourage you to read this article about NRCM member Wendy Weiger and her winter living alone in her one-room cabin in northern Maine, 10 miles from the nearest paved road! Wendy has spent this winter documenting her life via short YouTube videos.
And, since this is the first News & Noteworthy in two weeks, let’s end with two positive news stories. The first is news about recent research findings that the Gulf of Maine has more marine mammal diversity than the rest of the East Coast! Wildlife clearly wants to live in Maine as much as the rest of us do! And finally, the Forest Society of Maine and the Northeast Wilderness Trust recently announced the protection of more than 20,000 acres of land in western Maine and New Hampshire, which includes part of the Appalachian Trail.
March 10, 2022
Much of the news today is news about NRCM. Yesterday, longtime CEO Lisa Pohlmann announced her plans to retire after more than 11 years leading this organization. Here is a collection of news of yesterday’s announcement:
In other news, several fishermen and women have signed a petition to oppose American Aquafarms’ proposed aquaculture project in Frenchman Bay. Learn more about this project and why NRCM opposes it as well.
NRCM’s Senior Advocate Rebecca Schultz is quoted in this Bangor Daily News article about how electric vehicle charging station infrastructure in Maine is changing, including increased fast-charging projects being developed for Washington and Aroostook Counties.
We will end this week with some good news from Washington: the Biden Administration has proposed new rules to cut emissions and carbon pollution from new buses, delivery vans, moving trucks, and tractor-trailer trucks. This will help us all, but especially people living in low-income communities, which are often along heavily traveled highways, who are impacted more than people living in other communities. While more needs to be done, this is a good step in the right direction.
March 3, 2022
Maine was greeting tourists in record numbers before the start of the pandemic, and now that tourism is on the rise again, the state is talking about ways to make tourism more sustainable. One piece of that will be to “discuss ways tourism in Maine – where summer travel dominates – can extend into all four seasons and all areas of the state, diversify its tourism market, and adapt to social and environmental impacts.”
Some news we shared on Facebook today is related to news of a pact being worked on and supported by 175 countries. The New York Times article begins, “With the bang of a gavel made of recycled plastic and a standing ovation, representatives of 175 nations agreed on Wednesday to begin writing a global treaty that would restrict the explosive growth of plastic pollution.” Read the full article. And then be sure to follow us on social media if you aren’t already @nrcmenvironment.
NRCM testified in support of a bill (LD 906) to improve water quality to Passamaquoddy Tribe members who live at Pleasant Point in Washington County. Read more about this water crisis and then read our testimony in support of bill. Then, contact your Maine legislators to urge them to support this bill.
Every three years, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection reviews river classifications and makes suggestions for changes to those classifications in order to better protect Maine’s clean water. Those suggestions are presented to the Maine Legislature as a bill (LD 1964). This year, more than 800 miles of rivers are up for reclassification, including sections of the West Branch of the Penobscot River, parts of the Androscoggin River, and more. NRCM supports this bill.
And finally this week, NRCM testified on a bill (LD 1959) that would hold utilities accountable for their quality of service as well as ensuring that they are helping Maine to meet its climate requirements. Learn more in this Bangor Fox-22 news story.