Entries Filed in 'Economy'

The White House announces $68 Million to boost solar energy and cut greenhouse gases

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

ReVision worker installing solar panels.

The Obama administration, on September 18th, 2014, announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, and improving energy efficiency in rural areas.

The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.

The White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars.

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Wind turbine project will generate $11 million for Hancock County

September 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Wind turbine project approved by Hancock County Commissioners September 12th will generate $11 million in property tax revenue for the county over a 30-year period agreement.

The commission voted 2-1 in approval of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the project, which will install 17 turbines, at 500 feet tall, with a 3-megawatt capacity in Townships 22 and 16. Of the $11 million in property tax revenue, Hancock County will keep $5.82 million, while the rest will go to Hancock Wind, a First Wind subsidiary.

The agreement allows Hancock Wind to retain 70 percent of its annual tax payments to the county for the next 20 years, but for the last 10 years of the agreement the county will receive 100 percent of the tax revenue.

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Michaud discuses plan for Maine’s Energy Future at E2Tech Forum- LePage missing

September 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine's first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, discussed his plan for creating jobs, reducing energy costs and protecting Maine’s environment by making Maine a leader in alternative energy development today at the E2Tech gubernatorial forum.

Gov. LePage refused to attend the event.

“Maine can and must do more to cut heating costs and energy bills in Maine. My administration will make energy efficiency and clean energy development a top priority,” Michaud said. “I’ve set a goal of cutting the use of home heating oil in half by 2030. It’s an aggressive goal, but I think we can do it by promoting renewable energy in Maine, including wind power, solar, ocean energy and investing in efficiency and weatherization.”

In his MAINE MADE business and investment plan, Michaud proposed several detailed initiatives to make Maine a leader in renewable energy development, including a Maine solar power initiative, the creation of the Maine Ocean Energy Center of Excellence that would partner with the private sector to cement Maine’s place as a leader in off-shore renewable energy production and a commitment to support energy efficiency.

At the event, Michaud praised the work that businesses, organizations and groups like E2Tech are doing in Maine to promote renewable energy and said Gov. LePage has stood in the way of progress for nearly four years.

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Vice President Biden impressed by Maine’s manufacturing history and potential

September 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Labor issues, Speeches

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone's hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone’s hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard September 3rd with Maine Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, to highlight the history and future of Maine’s manufacturing innovation.

The tour of the 214-year-old Naval Shipyard gave Michaud a chance to share Maine’s shipbuilding history, manufacturing potential, and University of Maine’s “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” initiative, with Biden.

“I’ve traveled a million miles around the world as vice president and I traveled a million miles before that,” said Biden to more than a 1000 attendees at the shipyard. “And the fact of the matter is you’re the best in the world. It’s true.”

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New living wage report: Maine families struggle to make ends meet

August 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy

The latest in a series of reports, authored by the national Alliance for a Just Society, on the divide between what Maine workers need to earn to afford basic necessities and what available jobs in Maine actually pay was released today.

The report finds that a living wage (enough money to cover food, housing, health care, utilities, household expenses and to save for the future) for a single adult with no children working full-time in Maine would be $15.82 an hour. Two adults, both working and with two children, would have to earn $19.49 an hour to make ends meet. The minimum wage in Maine is currently only $7.50 an hour.

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Congressman Mike Michaud: His passion to help people and his economic policies

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Exclusive Interviews, Issue 41

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine's first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.

The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.

After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.

Q: What is your highest priority?

A:

My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.

Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.

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Maine becomes first east coast state to study, plan, and prepare for ocean acidification

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy, Environment, Issue 41, Science

Ocean acidification, in Maine, could dramatically hurt fisherman's livelihoods. photo by Ramona du Houx

Ocean acidification, in Maine, could dramatically hurt fisherman’s livelihoods. photo by Ramona du Houx

Research tells us the world’s ocean water is becoming more acidic, and that endangers shellfish and other marine animals. Marine scientists are worried and so are businesses that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. To better understand the problem and to help find solutions the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly to form the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission. The 16-member panel was announced on the Portland waterfront with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The Congresswoman has introduced a bill that would require federal officials to study the effects of ocean acidification on coastal communities in Maine and around the country.

“Ocean acidification could be a real threat to the fisheries that are the lifeblood of coastal communities. The truth is we don’t fully understand how it would impact a vital industry like the lobster fishery and what the effect would be on Maine,” said Pingree. “We know what’s causing ocean acidification but now we need to better understand how hard it is going to hit coastal economies.”

Under Pingree’s legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries were impacted.

“Maine is taking the lead on ocean acidification on the Eastern seaboard. We understand that it is a real threat to our marine environment, jobs and way of life,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the House chair of the State Commission and a marine biologist who sponsored the legislation that created the panel.

Lobsterman selling his catch in Belfast, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Lobsterman selling his catch in Belfast, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

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South Portland City Council votes 6-1 to protect the city from a tar sands crude oil terminal

July 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

In an historic vote, the South Portland City Council last night voted 6-1 to pass the Clear Skies Ordinance which will protect the city from a tar sands crude oil terminal. The city developed the ordinance after Protect South Portland’s neighbor-to-neighbor campaign educated and mobilized the community against tar sands over the last year and a half. Conservation groups and South Portland residents gathered to reflect, stating that the victory shows that citizens can overcome out-of-state oil interests. It provides a telling example of how local communities threatened with local impacts of tar sands are saying “No.”

“We may be a small city, but, boy, we’ve done a big thing tonight! The Clear Skies Ordinance protects our air, our coast, and our community,” said Mary-Jane Ferrier, spokesperson for Protect South Portland. “We are absolutely thrilled, relieved, and exhausted. Of course, we know it may not be over yet, and we’re committed to defend this victory from oil industry attacks.”

The Clear Skies Ordinance prohibits the bulk loading of tar sands onto tankers on the waterfront and forbids the construction of infrastructure for that purpose. Bulk loading of tar sands would increase air pollution, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, on the waterfront and surrounding the tanks next to schools and throughout the community. Two 70-foot tall combustion smokestacks on the pier next to Bug Light, such as those previously permitted by the city and state for bulk loading of tar sands, would harm scenic views and property values.

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President Obama orders review of the effect of pesticides on bees

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Environment, Farming

President Barack Obama, on June 21, ordered environmental regulators to review the effect that pesticides may be having on bees and other pollinators that have suffered significant losses in recent years. Bee’s are essential to our ecosystem.

The order signed by President Barack Obama also called for a sweeping strategy for all government agencies in the next six months that would protect pollinators by improving their habitat. “Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment,” said President Obama.“The problem is serious and requires immediate attention.”

The European Union has already banned three common pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, on the basis that they were making bees sick.

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Portland, Maine’s City Council bans foam packaging, endorses bag fee

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Economy, Environment

Maine's Portland City Hall during the holidays,  photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s Portland City Hall during the holidays, photo by Ramona du Houx

On June 16th, the Portland City Council voted 6-3 to ban foam packaging in city stores and restaurants, and voted 6-3 to enact a 5-cent fee on disposable shopping bags.

“These practical and common-sense actions will help to reduce the most common and costly litter in the city,” said Glen Brand, Director of Sierra Club Maine. “Styrofoam and plastic bags are more than unsightly eyesores; their production wastes energy and causes pollution, and plastic bags break down into toxic particles that pose a serious health threat to ocean wildlife.”

The council was confronted with arguments on both ordinance changes. Mayor Michael Brennan joined councilors Jon Hinck, Jill Duson, Ed Suslovic, David Marshall and Kevin Donoghue in favor, while Nicholas Mavodones, John Coyne and Cheryl Leeman voted against them.

“It was an issue I ran on while campaigning for mayor,” said Marshall.”The program encourages people to bring their own reusable bags to stores. Plastic bags have real environmental and economic costs.”

Portland’s single-use bag fee program is modeled on similar programs nationwide that have proven to reduce plastic bag litter clogging storm drains, jamming recycling equipment, and eventually floating out to sea.

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