October 23, 2019
Here is the latest round-up of news from the past week.
The Portland City Council voted on Monday night to ban the sale and distribution of plastic drinking straws, becoming the first Maine city to do so in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic-based pollution clogging the world’s oceans and landfills. Starting April 1, 2020, patrons at bars, restaurants, and other straw-serving establishments will have to ask for a straw to be provided with one. The outright ban on the distribution of straws begins Jan. 1, 2021. The two-phase approach is designed to give residents and businesses time to adjust to the change. The measure passed 8-0, with Councilor Pious Ali absent. Portland joins at least eight cities in California, including San Francisco, along with other major U.S. municipalities such as Seattle and Miami in banning straws. The ordinance also includes single-use stirrers and splash sticks. Read the full story.
You know how everyone wants to reduce plastic waste, but when you get given a paper straw it completely and utterly sucks and is actually nothing on a plastic straw so is opening up a whole conversation about it? Bars in Italy have started using pasta straws. Read full story.
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden is concerned about what he calls a “lack of transparency” in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ review and permitting process for Central Maine Power’s controversial 145-mile transmission corridor through western Maine.
NRCM’s clean energy attorney Sue Ely provided comment and applauded Golden for “standing up for Maine’s right to participate in federal permitting decisions.” She added, “The proposed CMP corridor is a massive project that has generated enormous public interest. It deserves a public hearing, and we are thankful that Congressman Golden has requested one,” Ely said Wednesday. Read the full story.
Boxy McBoxface comes to the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) with several years of experience navigating the world of recycling economies and is excited to address the challenges facing Maine’s recycling system. Living as a cardboard box doll gives Boxy unique insight into the importance of making recycling effective, sustainable, and equitable for all Mainers. Read this insightful interview with Boxy at NRCM’s Nature of Maine blog.
Maine this fall is in the midst of a land rush, not for gold but for sunshine. A recent law encouraging large solar projects, combined with the aggressive clean-energy goals of Gov. Janet Mills, have energy companies and developers from across the country trying to lock down prime sites for dozens of multi-million dollar community solar farms. The most appealing sites are on flat ground, with a southern exposure near high-voltage power lines and substations. What’s driving the activity now is a major rewrite of community solar rules by the last Legislature, which removed random, restrictive limits that, for instance, limited membership to fewer than 10 customers. Suddenly, Maine is on the radar of the national solar industry. It’s joining other states like Massachusetts, which has had policies encouraging community solar since 2008. Read the full story.
There are two small holes in the chest of my black fleece, as if a vampire took a nip, but Rose Marcario, the CEO of Patagonia, does not think I need a new one. The outdoor apparel retailer would make more money if Marcario pushed one of the supple pink and purple pullovers on sale for $119 in Patagonia’s store. Instead, she suggests a different idea. “You can just patch it,” she says, sitting near an open window at Patagonia’s camp-like Ventura, Calif. headquarters, wearing brown Buddhist prayer beads on her wrist. It’s an odd statement for the head of a retail company, but she shrugs and says, “I’m not really a buyer of things.” Patagonia has long been at the forefront of what is now emerging as an increasingly popular new flavor of capitalism. Today’s customers want their dollars to go to companies that will use their money to make the world a better place. Patagonia donates 1 percent of sales to environmental nonprofits, and in 2016 gave 100 percent of Black Friday sales—about $10 million—to environmental groups. In late 2017, it sued President Trump after he issued a proclamation reducing the size of two national monuments. (The case is still making its way through courts.) Late last year, it changed its mission statement to “We’re in business to save our home planet.” And on Sept. 20, Patagonia shut down its stores and offices so that employees—including Marcario—could strike alongside youth climate activists. “Business has to pick up the mantle when government fails you,” says Marcario, eating a bowl of hemp pesto pasta from the company’s organic cafeteria. “I think we’ve all realized that we have to go beyond ‘Do no unnecessary harm,’” a reference to part of the company’s former motto. Read the full article.
Maine health officials are reporting a dramatic increase in two tick-borne illnesses – anaplasmosis and babesiosis – even as cases of the more commonly reported Lyme disease are down significantly. Maine had recorded 556 cases of anaplasmosis and 124 cases of babesiosis through Tuesday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The number of babesiosis cases already is a record, while anaplasmosis is tracking to finish 2019 with more cases than the previous high of 663 in 2017. All of the diseases are spread by the deer tick. Read the full story.
In his latest column, legendary outdoorsman and conservationist George Smith wrote about his opposition to the CMP transmission line proposal: “I’ve written two columns expressing my opposition to allowing Central Maine Power to devastate western Maine, a place where I’ve done quite a bit of hunting and fishing and appreciated the beautiful forests, lakes, streams, mountains, sporting camps, and small towns full of friendly people.” NRCM’s staff attorney and Forests & Wildlife Program Director Cathy Johnson provided insight to the column, noting, “Clear-cutting an area and erecting poles and a transmission line is a physical alteration of the land that constitutes part of what is a substantial change in use.” Read the full column.