We are here today to bring attention to the most serious and sweeping set of proposed rollbacks of Maine’s environmental laws that we have ever seen.
We’re no longer talking just about the governor’s proposed rollbacks of the safeguards that provide us with clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. The debate is not just about whether the toxic chemical BPA should be allowed in sippy cups, or whether we should sacrifice 3 million acres of Maine’s precious North Woods for development – as proposed by the governor. Rather, the debate has expanded to literally dozens of proposals sponsored by lawmakers that would weaken some of Maine’s most important environmental protections.
We have identified 50 different bills now before the Legislature that would rollback Maine’s environmental laws, including proposals to:
- Repeal Maine’s Bottle Bill – which has been a huge environmental and economic success;
- Weaken shoreland zoning that protects our lakes, rivers and coastal waters;
- Undermine enforcement of Maine’s environmental laws in a way that could let violators off the hook;
- Abolish the planning board for Maine’s North Woods
- Weaken laws that protect Mainers from exposure to toxic chemicals; and
- Weaken laws that protect significant habitat needed by Maine wildlife.
The list goes on and on. Some of these bills overlap with the governor’s proposals, but many go beyond even those extreme measures.
In past years, we’ve been accustomed to seeing a dozen rollback bills such as these, or perhaps 20. But 50 environmental rollback bills is totally unprecedented, misguided and wrong for Maine.
If implemented, this sweeping anti-environment agenda would put Maine people out of work, increase our exposure to toxic chemicals, damage Maine’s $10 billion tourism economy, and harm Maine’s most important asset – the quality of our environment.
These rollbacks are not consistent with the wishes of Maine people, who strongly believe that we need – and we must achieve – both a healthy environment and a strong economy.
Our message today to lawmakers is plain and simple: Protect Maine. Stop the environmental rollbacks. Use common sense and vote against these bills. The idea that increased pollution and lower environmental standards will create jobs is utterly foolish, and must be rejected here at the State House. There is a correct and sensible way to build Maine’s economy in a sustainable way, but passing any of these 50 bills that would weaken the laws that protect our environment is not it.