AUGUSTA — Representing their 100,000 members across the state, more than two dozen Maine environmental organizations jointly called today for the 122nd Maine Legislature to address serious threats to Maine’s environment.
“From the sky to the sea, from our forests to our rivers, Maine’s children, water, wildlife and land face daunting environmental threats,” said Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine League of Conservation Voters. “That’s why our 25 organizations stand together today, sharing a common goal: to work with our elected leaders to make the great state of Maine a safer place for its people and a protected place for its natural resources.”
“Polls show repeatedly that Maine voters care about clean water, clean air, wildlife, and natural places,” Townsend said. “Our legislators also care about these issues. It’s possible—and crucial—for Maine’s leaders to work with Maine’s people to protect what is so precious to every Mainer.”
This is the first time in Maine’s history that such a broad range of environmental and public health organizations have joined to advocate for a common list of legislative priorities. The groups have identified six priorities: 1) reducing children’s exposure to lead; 2) restoring the water quality of the Androscoggin and St. Croix Rivers; 3) ensuring Maine’s natural-resource agencies have the resources to be effective; 4) passing a bond to fund the Land for Maine’s Future Program; 5) Reducing air pollution through the adoption of cleaner-car sales goals; and 6) curbing sprawl.
Six Maine residents joined the organizations at a press conference today and spoke about how they are affected by the environmental threats the groups have identified.
”The state is facing unprecedented environmental challenges on all fronts. I’m particularly concerned about the threats posed by invasive species, from smallmouth bass in our native trout waters, to the foreign aquatics choking some of our waterways, to the woolly adelgid attacking our hemlocks. Our natural resource agencies need adequate funding to face these threats and others and protect Maine’s environment,” said Dick Walthers of Otisfield.
Jan Wilk of Sebago, whose son has respiratory problems, told the group, “The time is ripe for Maine to take the next step forward to address air pollution from cars. As the mother of a son who suffers from asthma, and the owner of a clean-burning hybrid car, I am very happy today to see that groups representing 100,000 Mainers have agreed that getting cleaner cars on Maine roads is a high priority. Surely, if this many people want to see cleaner cars on the road in Maine, for the benefit of my son’s health and the health of us all, then our legislative leaders will make the right decisions.”>/p>
“Growing up on the coast and now living in the North Woods, I have seen our outdoor heritage lessened and our access to Maine’s land and water lost, little by little, year after year,” said Jayne Lello of Sebec. “The Land for Maine’s Future Bond will ensure that Maine families always have a chance to swim at the beaches, walk in the forests, and fish in the streams that they know so well.”
“I have always lived and worked around the Androscoggin River,” said Neil Ward of Leeds. “It is Maine’s most polluted river and deserves much better. That’s why I am so pleased that so many organizations have banded together in support of legislation to take the next step in cleaning it up.”>/p>
Virginia Goodlett of Augusta said, “Every day I see firsthand the impact of sprawl here in Augusta. And we are not alone; this is a huge problem all over Maine. I know that legislators want to deal with this urgent problem; we’re here to say we’ll work with you to address this threat to our way of life in Maine.”
Sandra Cort, a mother from South Windham, said, “It is past time to get poisonous lead out of Maine homes and products. Working together with legislators, I believe we can find solutions to this toxic legacy.”
Participating groups support the following six priority bills:
Resolve to adopt New Motor Vehicle Emission Standards
An Act To Include Specific Bodies of Water within Class C Standards (LR 775)
An Act To Assist Towns with the Implementation of the Growth Management Act (LR 1912)
An Act to Prevent Lead Poisoning of Children and Adults (LR 2022)
An Act To Authorize A General Fund Bond Issue for the Land For Maine’s Future Program (LR 1269)
Natural Resource Agency Funding (part of the budget, likely part of multiple bills)
Participating organizations include: