Good morning, Senator Schneider, Representative Barstow and members of the Committee. My name is Cathy Johnson. I am a resident of Alna. I am here today to testify on behalf of 8,000 members of the general public who are also members and supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine in opposition to LD 562.
Last year, the Legislature rejected a bill that was almost identical to LD 562. The Legislature saw that LD 942 was a bad idea last year, and we urge you to reach the same conclusion again this year concerning LD 562.
Here are the main problems with LD 562:
- LD 562 is not needed. Maine’s rulemaking process allows significant public input and already requires agencies to document and address all comments. The current Maine Administrative Procedures Act is a thorough and deliberate process. What problem is LD 562 trying to fix?
- LD 562 will not improve public understanding as suggested by the bill title. Instead, it requires agencies to provide upon request a list of primary sources of information used in reaching a decision. Few members of the public will know how to make such a request. This tool is most likely to be used by the regulated community to hamper the rulemaking process.
- LD 562 will slow implementation and enforcement of standards to protect our environment by imposing additional paperwork on scientists in already under-funded agencies. It also will increase the likelihood of litigation against rulemaking agencies.
- LD 562 is vague. Primary sources are not defined. In science, a primary source refers to a paper based on either field or laboratory research that the author has performed personally, alone or with others. A secondary source refers to a paper that an author has written based on the research of others in which the author did not participate. Is this scientific definition of a primary source what the bill means by primary source? If so, many rules are not based on primary sources.
- This bill implies that rules should be based on primary sources. Many rules are not and should not be based on primary sources. For example, IF&W adopts rules establishing catch limits for certain fish species in a certain ponds. These rules are generally not based on primary sources. Rather they are based on the experience and professional judgment of the biologists and on input provided by the fishing public.
Another example is rules adopted by the Land Use Regulation Commission to regulate development activities in the unorganized territories. These rules are based on recent patterns of development in the area under consideration, on the judgment of experienced land use planners, and on public comment from those who live, work and recreate in the area.Another example would be the rules adopted by the Maine Forest Service last year to regulate liquidation harvesting. These rules were based on information about the pattern of liquidation harvesting in the state – information provided by foresters and forest rangers from the Maine Forest Service as well as members of the public. They were also based on lengthy stakeholder negotiations.
In none of these cases were there any “primary sources” nor should there have been primary sources. Professional judgment and public comment are also valid bases for rules.
- This bill treats environmental agencies differently from other state agencies. The Administrative Procedures Act is intended to set up procedures that apply to all state agencies. This bill would change the APA only for environmental agencies. There is no public policy reason for requiring more paper work for environmental agencies than for other state agencies.
- LD 562 appears to be part of a national strategy to inhibit effective state regulations to protect the environment and public health. Similar bills have appeared in other states, including West Virginia.
We strongly urge the Committee to vote Ought-Not-To-Pass on LD 562.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important issue.