Here are some of the 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.
May 27, 2021
How many of you in Maine are noticing more pollen than usual these days? You can blame some of that on climate change according to a new report from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Wolfden Resources, a Canadian company proposing a controversial mine, opposed by NRCM, at Pickett Mountain near Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument and Baxter State Park, has also signed an option agreement for more than 200 acres of land in Washington County. Read more in the Quoddy Times.
If you haven’t seen the alewife run at Benton Falls in Central Maine, you should put that on your list of things to do! More than three million alewives will pass through this stretch of river this year. Learn more from News Center Maine.
Are you considering joining a community solar farm? You are not alone. Many Mainers have already signed up, and others are interested but have questions. This Portland Press Herald story by Tux Turkel helps to answer some of those questions.
The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee this week voted to support a bill that would put the costs of recycling back onto manufacturers to save taxpayers and municipalities money. Learn more about this bill and how you can support recycling reform for Maine. Also, read this Forbes article, featuring NRCM’s Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols.
One bill that won’t move on to full legislative votes is the bill (LD 1639) that would have closed a loophole in Maine law that allows toxic out-of-state waste to be trucked into State-owned landfills, like the one at Juniper Ridge in Old Town. That bill was tabled until the 2022 legislative session.
We’re going to end this week with a piece from the Bangor Daily News about the latest updates and news from the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. If you haven’t visited yet, we encourage you to get it on your summer or fall list of places to visit. NRCM can help you plan your trip with our Visitor’s Guide, maps, and list of accommodations and restaurants. Enjoy!
May 20, 2021
There is a lot of news this week related to bills that are being discussed in the Maine Legislature, many of which are priorities for NRCM.
- LD 1639 is a bill that would close a loophole that currently allows out-of-state toxic construction and demolition debris to fill the State-owned Juniper Ridge landfill in Old Town. WMTW Channel 8 news spoke with NRCM Sustainable Maine Director Sarah Nichols about the importance of passing this bill. Learn more about this bill in a Maine Public news story.
- Another important piece of legislation, LD 1541, would create an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law that would save taxpayers and municipalities money and make packaging manufacturers responsible for the costs of recycling their packaging materials. This Portland Press Herald editorial in support of LD 1541 explains more.
- A bill (LD 194) that would make it illegal for foreign-owned corporations (like Hydro-Quebec) from interfering in Maine elections is the subject of a recent Kennebec Journal op-ed by Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford).
- A recent Sun Journal op-ed by former Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Commissioner Ray “Bucky” Owen and former IF&W Deputy Commissioner Paul Jacques supports passage of LD 1626, the tribal sovereignty bill. NRCM submitted testimony in support of tribal sovereignty.
The other big news this week is related to the four dams on the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan, owned by energy giant Brookfield, that are standing in the way of Atlantic salmon’s access to important spawning habitat further up river. NRCM, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Maine Rivers filed an intent to sue Brookfield for its repeated violations of the Endangered Species Act.
Speaking of fish, if you’ve lived in Maine for any length of time, you likely know that there is a fish consumption advisory for fish caught in Maine lakes. This Bangor Daily News piece explains what mercury is and why it is a risk to our health.
Finally this week, we want to share a Bangor Daily News op-ed from Tony Whitman, a farmer from West Paris, about how solar power is a “boon for Maine farmers.”
May 13, 2021
New Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold a Cabinet position, will be giving the commencement address at Maine’s College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor early next month.
The Lincolnville Central School has plans to purchase power from a local solar farm, saving the school roughly $100,000 over 20 years. Great news and a great educational opportunity for the students in Lincolnville to learn about the benefits of renewable energy.
NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director David Costello is quoted in this Ellsworth American article about offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.
Sarah Nichols, NRCM’s Sustainable Maine Director, testified in support of an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging bill (LD 1541) that has been a priority for NRCM. Read more about what this bill would do to help Maine’s taxpayers, municipalities, and environment in this Portland Press Herald story about the bill’s public hearing earlier this week.
Kathryn Olmstead, an NRCM board member, has authored a new book about Aroostook County. You can read more about this book in our upcoming Explore Maine publication and in this Bangor Daily News piece.
And finally this week, David Farmer shares why he thinks supporting the Land for Maine’s Future program is one of the best things we can do in this Bangor Daily News opinion piece.
May 6, 2021
Funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program—which protects Maine lands, working waterfronts, working farms, and more—ran out in 2012. The Maine Legislature has a chance this year to pass a bill to get a bond on the November ballot to provide funding for LMF as well as much-needed maintenance at Maine’s State Parks. Read this Portland Press Herald op-ed in support of LMF funding by Ben Whalen, who co-owns Bumbleroot Farm in Windham.
You can also read about the need for funding for Maine’s State Parks from Ray and Danielle Ruby in this Bangor Daily News op-ed. Ray and Danielle and their young family have visited all of Maine’s State Parks. Read more from them on NRCM’s blog.
NRCM Forests & Wildlife Director Melanie Sturm is quoted in this Sun Journal story about the legislative hearing for a bill to create a Maine Forest Advisory Board.
Last week we shared an Outside news story about Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland listening to historically underrepresented communities. This week, Maine Public shares the results of a study involving University of Maine researchers, which finds that Indigenous people are key to building biodiversity in wilderness.
We told you recently about Hannaford supermarkets’ plan to no longer send their food waste to landfill. Read more about how Maine grocery stores are looking to reduce food waste and the challenges they currently face in this Mainebiz story.