Entries Filed in 'Economy'
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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Tags: Tar Sands in Maine
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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Tags: Agriculture·Farms in Maine
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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Tags: Portland Maine charges for plastic bags
Two Maine organizations will share a total of $321,500 in funds from the USDA to support local foods efforts.
“Support for Maine’s farmers and local foods’ businesses is critical to creating economic and community development in rural communities. I am pleased that USDA Rural Development can invest $321,500 to make a significant impact on farm and food infrastructure in several Maine counties while creating jobs and giving Mainers access to locally grown and produced foods,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.
Coastal Enterprises, Inc., in Wiscasset, has been selected to receive a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $86,500 to provide technical assistance to small and emerging private farm and food infrastructure businesses located in Maine’s “Rim” Counties of Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington. The goal is to expand elements of the value chain including processing, marketing, and distribution, thereby giving producers the opportunity for growth and added prosperity. Twenty jobs are anticipated to be created and eight businesses assisted.
The Greater York Region of Commerce has been selected to receive a Community Facility Direct Loan in the amount of $235,000 to purchase a two acre parcel of land directly adjacent to the Chamber so that they may expand their farmer’s market, provide additional parking, and to incorporate a picnic area for the vendors and customers.
Supporting local and regional foods systems is one of the top three emphasis areas of USDA Rural Development. The agency supports this initiative through increased economic activity related to local and regional food systems through the creation and expansion of infrastructure, business services and supply chain coordination, and by facilitating connections between rural food producers/businesses and regional market opportunities. The other emphasis areas are advancing the biobased economy and renewable energy development, and investing in community and economic development.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities.
USDA Rural Development invested $462.5 million in rural Maine communities last fiscal year in the areas of homeownership, business assistance, energy and renewable energy development, water and wastewater and community facilities. The agency has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 59 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine.
Tags: Agriculture·agriculture in Maine·Farms in Maine·Value added goods in Maine
Lobster Quest by Ramona du Houx
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree 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. The Maine Legislature passed the first East Coast Ocean Acidification bill to conduct a study specific to Maine this session.
“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.”
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Tags: Maine coast·Maine fisheries
SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
On May 6, 2014 the Obama Administration released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment—the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the U.S. economy. Global warming is already affecting life in Maine and other New England states in dramatic life changing ways, according to the report, which assessed the data according to regions.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” read the report’s introduction.
The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported. Sweeping changes in climate have been caused by an average warming of two degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace the warming could exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.
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Tags: Climate change is here we need action
By Neil Rolde
Congressman Paul Ryan always reminds me of a medieval court jester. Although not gussied up in the belled cap and four-color doublet of a fool’s costume, his sharp-nosed profile, glittering eyes and slender build stamps him as an heir to those quick-witted souls who spent their lifetime amusing royalty in somewhat the manner of a brainy animal pet.
Yet Paul Ryan does have human attributes. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so sly and quietly ferocious. Some critics (mostly fellow Republicans) have pointed out his diabolical self-serving interest in producing the Budget From Hell. It was nothing less, they claimed, than an effort to exonerate himself in their eyes from the fact that at a crucial time, he had led the effort to produce a budget in tandem with the Democrats that would keep the U.S. government functioning. The hard right so-called Tea Partyers (how I cringe as an historian whenever I hear that distortion of the group of 18th century patriots fighting for representation not tax evasion) blistered Ryan. The Congressman from Wisconsin then simply cobbled together a blue print for the Republican Party that would satisfy the fanatics.
The red meat that Ryan threw to these Inegalitarian’s included ending Medicare and Medicaid and turning health care 100 percent back to the health insurance companies. A small subsidy would be included under Ryan’s plan for everyone to BUY health policies. I recently had a case of shingles diagnosed at a hospital emergency room out of state. The bill for that one visit was almost $1,000. Thank God for Medicare.
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Dream Local Digital, Inc. is the latest Maine business to outgrow its existing facility. Dream Local Digital’s investment is expected to lead to the creation of up to 30 new jobs over the next two years.
The digital social media marketing company was recently certified for a Maine Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) Pine Tree Zone incentive package designed to assist the company’s upcoming expansion in Rockland. PTDZ tax incentives were started with the Baldacci Administration to grow jobs in Maine by expanding existing businesses and attracting businesses to the state. The PTDZ incentives helped make Maine more competitive in the Global Economy as a location to conduct business.
“We’re very driven toward trying to focus our efforts on job creation in Maine. The incentives help provide us with greater financial stability and help us plan ahead and make long term investments,” said Shannon Kinney Dream Local Digital founder.
Tags: John Baldacci·Pine Tree Development Zones
Lindsey Glick at the Skhowegan Farmers Market representing the farm she work on – One Drop of Cornville, Maine
By State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville
In this fast moving 21st century world, sometimes it’s important to just “get back to basics.” And there could be no greater truism for today’s food and agriculture movement than that.More and more, not only do we want to know what’s in our food but we also want to know where our food is grown or harvested.
This connection to our food extends beyond what’s healthy; it also grows our sense of community, and it strengthens our local economy. All you have to do is visit your local farmer’s market to get a taste for what local agriculture has done for Maine. Many aren’t aware of this fact, but did you know that Maine has more working farms than any other state in New England?—and that while the rest of the nation is seeing a decline in working farms, Maine is experiencing an uptick. Successes like these need to be praised and built upon.
And that is why, this session, I sponsored a food hubs bill that makes it easier to distribute local foods from small farms to new markets. Unfortunately Governor LePage vetoed the measure, in spite of its overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, in the Senate, it passed unanimously!
Food hubs help gather, store, distribute, promote, and sell products from small farms to new markets such as schools and grocery stores.
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Tags: Agriculture·Food hubs in Maine
At the Republican convention in Bangor, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said, “Thanks to Paul LePage and his veto pen and our votes in the Maine House and Senate, we were able to stop an avalanche of liberal legislation that would have crushed Maine’s economic recovery.”
“Statements like the one made by Rep. Fredette are not accurate. The truth is Governor LePage was missing in action and did nothing to strengthen Maine’s economy, while the Legislature worked together to tackle important issues facing Mainers,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “Now Governor LePage is trying to make himself relevant by using his veto pen. And he’s vetoing bills that received strong support from both parties. It’s disappointing to see Republican lawmakers praise obstruction—even when it’s at their own expense. It seems some Republican lawmakers are more interested in caving to Governor LePage and walking away their votes instead of standing by the good work accomplished in the Legislature.”
With a total of 148 vetoes during his tenure, Governor LePage has exceeded the number of vetoes by any other Governor.The previous record holder was another Republican, one-term Governor Jim Longley who executed 118 vetoes.
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Tags: GOP lies about Maine