Belfast Hearing – January 26, 2011
by Judy Berk, NRCM Communications Director
Senator Courtney, Representative McKane, and members of the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform,
Thank you for hosting this field hearing in Belfast today. My name is Judy Berk, I live just south of here in Northport, and I am here today representing more than 12,000 supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Last Thursday, I was fortunate to be seated in the second row at the Roundtable on Maine People and the Environment. The room was packed, with 500 Mainers from across the state. Governor LePage was at the center of the panel, flanked by you, Senator Saviello, and Jim Brooks, the acting Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.
The roundtable featured 29 incredible speakers, including clammers, fishermen, large and small business owners, farmers, a Catholic priest, an inn keeper, and others, who explained to the Governor why a clean and healthy environment is critical for their jobs, quality of life, our economy and Maine’s future.
Following the presentations, Governor LePage spoke, and I recorded his remarks, which included the following quotes:
Governor LePage said:
But three days later, the Governor completely contradicted these statements when he released his “Phase I Regulatory Reform Proposals” which includes proposals that would gut some of Maine’s most important environmental laws.
The Governor’s proposals would reduce air quality standards, destroy wildlife habitat, allow more pollution and toxic chemicals, and encourage sprawl throughout Maine – including deep into Maine’s north woods.
We all want government to work efficiently, but these proposals are a prescription for decline in the quality of Maine’s environment — the very foundation of our economy, our health, and our way of life.
I strongly urge this Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform to completely reject these proposals and to start from scratch. There is room for improvement in the implementation of Maine’s environmental laws, but we should not be lowering standards. It doesn’t make sense that Maine would want the same standards as New Jersey, unless we want the pollution, sprawl, and degraded habitat of those New Jersey.
Let me list just a few of the changes proposed by Governor LePage:
In closing, I have submitted copies of statements made by presenters at last week’s roundtable with the Governor. I have also submitted a list of specific environmental laws that would be weakened or eliminated by the Governor’s proposal.
Thank you again for your serious consideration of these issues, and I would be glad to answer any questions that you may have.