Advocates Cheer Legislative Actions to Protect Maine’s Environment
Augusta, MAINE – In a year marked by budget cuts, fiscal challenges and increased political tension in the Legislature due to November’s looming elections, lawmakers pulled together to pass significant legislation to protect Maine’s environment.
“Environmental protection emerged as a bright light with progress on global warming, renewable energy, energy efficiency, reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and combating sprawl,” said Maureen Drouin, Executive Director of the Maine League of Conservation Voters.
Members of Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, representing 25 organizations including Maine Rivers, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine League of Conservation Voters and Environmental Health Strategy Center, joined a group of bipartisan legislators on the steps of the Capitol to highlight passage of top environmental priorities for 2008.
“These victories for Maine people and our environment took hard work,” said Drouin. “We thank legislative leaders for ensuring Maine people will have healthier communities, more energy efficient homes and for taking steps to reduce global warming pollution.”
With a backdrop of high energy prices, one of the closest votes came in the Senate on LD 2257, to establish a uniform building and energy efficiency code. The Majority Report for LD 2257 won a squeaker vote 18–17, with two Republican Senators voting in favor (Senators Turner and Mills) and two Democrats voting against (Senators Bryant and Nutting).
“A statewide energy efficiency code for new homes has been a long time in coming,” said Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “LD 2257 will save Maine families several million dollars per year in energy costs, and does so with options that won’t burden local governments.”
One of the final pieces of legislation to be considered, LD 2048, An Act to Protect Children’s Health and the Environment from Toxic Chemicals in Toys and Children’s Products, received a unanimous roll call vote (35-0) in the Senate late last night.
“This is a huge victory for protecting children’s health from unnecessary and dangerous chemicals,” said Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “The overwhelming support of the Maine Legislature shows the huge public consensus for requiring safer chemicals in products.”
The coalition did not win on all of its priorities. The amended version of LD 1957, a bill to restore fish passageway to alewives in the St. Croix River, will result in opening up of one dam to alewives on the St. Croix, but not the more important Grand Falls Dam.
Other important environmental victories included: minimizing carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-powered industrial and electrical generating facilities in the state (LD 2126); amending the credit for rehabilitation of historic properties (LD 262); implementing recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power Development (LD 2283); and ensuring that children’s toys and products are free of lead (LD 2053).