Entries Filed in 'Economy'

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.

Read more ›

Tags:

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.

Read more ›

Tags: ······

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

Read more ›

Tags:

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.

Read more ›

Tags:

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.

Read more ›

Tags: ·

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.

Read more ›

Tags:

USDA awards $321,500 for support of Maine farm and local food infrastructure

June 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy, News from Washington

1044461_637727639590596_2065773848_nTwo 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: ···

Pingree introduces bill to study impact of ocean acidification on coastal communities

May 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment · Community Maine, Economy

Lobster Quest by Ramona du Houx

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.”

Read more ›

Tags: ·

Report: What Climate Change means for Maine and the Northeast

May 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy, Environment

SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

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.

Read more ›

Tags:

Neil Rolde: The budget from hell, or heaven if you’re one of the 1 percent

May 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Guest Columns, Neil Rolde

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.

Read more ›

Tags: