Entries Filed in 'Environment'
A humpback whale off the coast of Acadia National Park. photo by Ramona du Houx
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced today that two Maine organizations working to rescue stranded seals and whales would receive federal Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grants through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Though funding for the program has faced possible elimination in the President’s proposed budget in recent years, Pingree has worked tirelessly with other lawmakers to make these grants possible through the Congressional appropriations process.
“It’s important to protect the health of our marine mammal populations because they’re iconic species for our state and a critical part of the ecosystem. When whales and seals end up stranded on beaches or trapped in shallow water, we depend on having well-trained people who can respond quickly and appropriately,” said Pingree. “Two Maine organizations are doing fantastic work in coordinating responses for hundreds of animals a year. They’ve done a great job recruiting volunteers and raising private funds, but the federal government has an obligation to provide support. I’m so glad the organizations will receive these grants to help continue their very important work.”
Marine Mammal Rescue of Maine will receive a grant for $83,878 to support its work responding to marine mammal strandings from Kittery to Rockland. The organization has been under increased pressure since the closing of a marine mammal rehabilitation center at UNE last spring.
Read more ›
Tags: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine·Maine's quality of life
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.
Read more ›
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.
Read more ›
Tags: clean energy in maine·Congressman Mike Michaud·economic development·Maine's quality of life
The article from 2010:
Cutler wants to eliminate Board of Environmental Protection
August 20th, 2010 · Filed under: Capitol news · No Comments
At the August 19, 2010 meeting of the Board of Environmental Protection, Senate President Libby Mitchell testified in favor of proposed rules that will limit children’s exposure to bisphenol-A, also known as BPA.
BPA is a chemical commonly used in clear, shatter proof plastic containers; including some baby bottles and the lining of food cans. Research strongly indicates that BPA disrupts the hormone system and has been linked to cancer and other health problems.
That same day Eliot Cutler, a gubernatorial candidate, outlined his plan to eliminate the state Board of Environmental Protection as part of government restructuring to save money.
Mitchell, the Democratic nominee for Maine governor, criticized Cutler’s proposal to cut the board during a press conference before the hearing.
The Board of Environmental Protection is a 10-member citizen panel, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature, which interprets and enforces laws relating to environmental protection.
“I believe it’s a very important piece of our democracy,” said Mitchell. “Our Board of Environmental Protection gives everyday people the right to approach their government. Saving funds at the cost of our environment, and citizen rights, is wrong.”
Citizen testimony to the board, in the past, has lead to stronger environmental protection.
- See more at: http://maineinsights.com/perma/cutler-wants-to-eliminate-board-of-enviromental-protection#sthash.oamrxe7y.dpuf
During a “citizen hearing” today in Portland, local health experts, marine fisheries experts, clean energy leaders and conservation advocates, highlighted the public health and economic benefits of the EPA’s new carbon pollution standards for power plants, and urged Maine’s elected leaders, including Senators Collins and King to pledge support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. They also highlighted how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped grow Maine’s clean energy economy.
“The Administration’s carbon pollution standards establish the first ever national limits on industrial carbon pollution from power plants and take an essential step toward protecting public health from the harmful effects of climate change,” said Dr.Lani Graham, Maine Medical Association. “Ignoring the impacts of industrial carbon pollution puts us all, especially children, at risk from asthma attacks and other health impacts associated with air pollution.”
“The sooner we implement the elements of the EPA Power Plant proposal the lower the costs in terms of money, human health, and the environment,” said Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne. “As advocates for Casco Bay we know that lowering emissions from power plants will help protect the health of the bay, the people in the watershed, and the coastal economy.”
Read more ›
ReEnergy Holdings today announced plans to resume operations at its biomass-to-electricity facility in Ashland, ME.
“We are very pleased to be resuming operations of this critical energy asset,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “This will restore jobs, improve forest health, and enhance reliability and stability in the delivery of electricity in northern Maine. This was only possible through the collaboration and support of key stakeholders.”
The 39-megawatt ReEnergy Ashland facility generates renewable energy from responsibly harvested green forest residue biomass and unadulterated wood. It is capable of producing approximately 284,000 MWh of electricity each year — enough to supply nearly 37,000 homes. The facility, which opened in 1993, was acquired by ReEnergy Holdings in December 2011 as part of a multi-facility portfolio purchase from Boralex Industries Inc. It has been idled since March 2011. It is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational by December.
“The reopening of the Ashland biomass facility is welcome news for the important jobs it will restore and the renewable energy it will generate. The forest economy is a tremendous asset in our state and biomass plants like the one in Ashland play a vital role,” said Senator Susan Collins.
The facility has a significant economic impact in northern Maine. The resumption of operations will restore 25 well-paying direct jobs and an estimated 150 indirect jobs associated with the facility, many of them related to the supply of the forest residue fuel supply to the facility and additional jobs tied to local goods and services related to the facility. At full production levels, the facility purchases more than $16 million annually in fuel from local loggers. When considering the payrolls of the direct and indirect jobs along with taxes paid by ReEnergy Ashland, the annual economic impact on the region is well in excess of $20 million.
ReEnergy’s plans to restart the power plant in Ashland is great news for the community,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer. “It will create many well-paying direct jobs at the plant as well as other indirect jobs supplying the facility with biomass fuel. The Town of Ashland appreciates ReEnergy’s commitment to our community and look forward to seeing the plant in operation again.”
ReEnergy has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard for the facilities that are currently operating in Maine and New York. ReEnergy will seek similar certification for the Ashland facility, and this certification will provide third-party verification that ReEnergy’s biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices. ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified to the SFI Standard.
ReEnergy’s strategy is to own and operate its facilities in regions capable of supplying raw materials while simultaneously ensuring the long-term sustainability of the forests where those facilities are located. The company owns and operates three other biomass-to-energy facilities in Maine: ReEnergy Stratton (48 MW); ReEnergy Livermore Falls (39 MW); and ReEnergy Fort Fairfield (37 MW). ReEnergy also owns and operates a facility in Lewiston that processes construction and demolition material. With Ashland operating, ReEnergy will employ more than 140 people in Maine and support more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“This is great news for the town of Ashland and another sign of the positive things that are happening in Aroostook County’s forest economy,” said Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council.
Biomass-to-energy offers substantial long-term employment and positive rural economic impacts. With in-state equipment manufacturing, fuel harvesting, processing, and jobs from facility construction to ongoing boiler service, the bioenergy industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy. As a rule of thumb, each megawatt of biomass-fueled electricity supports approximately five full-time jobs: one direct job in the biomass facility, and four indirect jobs in surrounding forests and communities.
The Ashland facility has been idled since March 2011 due to market conditions. The restart has been made possible due to a confluence of factors, including an increased need for electric grid stability in northern Maine, availability of transmission capacity, a growing need for a local outlet for mill and forest residues, and energy market changes.
The facility has been maintained in a manner that will allow for a prompt return to its standard of reliability, but several months of preparation will be necessary to hire and re-hire employees, build fuel supply, and assess and re-tune equipment.
About ReEnergy Holdings:
ReEnergy Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of Riverstone Holdings LLC, owns and/or operates facilities that use forest-derived woody biomass and other waste residues to produce renewable energy. It also owns facilities in New England that recycle construction and demolition debris. ReEnergy was formed in 2008 by affiliates of Riverstone Holdings LLC and a senior management/co-investor team comprised of experienced industry professionals. ReEnergy owns and/or operates nine energy generating facilities with 325 MW of installed renewable energy generation capacity and processes for recycling more than 700,000 tons per year of construction and demolition material. ReEnergy operates in six states and employs more than 300 people.
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
Read more ›
Tags: Ocean acidification in Maine
SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits polutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Maine has been a leader in clean energy and efficiency, with a plan enacted during the Baldacci administration working with lawmakers. During that time Maine became part of the New England state’s cap-and-trade carbon trade system, know as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, (RGGI).
However, the state is still at the mercy of winds that carry pollution here. That’s why President Barack Obama’s EPA proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationally and by about 14 percent in Maine by 2030 is critical. Carbon emissions are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States and power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
“The EPA’s plan will allow states like Maine to build on the strong work we’ve already been doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “Over the last 9 years, emissions from power plants in the nine states participating in RGGI have dropped by more than 40 percent. That is a very important step forward, and this proposal – when taken with Maine’s cutting-edge clean energy initiatives – positions Maine to be a leader in the clean energy sector. That means more jobs, lower utility bills and cleaner air for all Mainers.”
Read more ›
Tags: Climate change·RGGI - Regional Green House Gas initiative
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: Tar Sands in Maine
Statoil Oil is investing $2.5 billion in the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm project off the shores off the coast of Norfolk, UK. Statiol’s 30 MW pilot project under construction will consist of five, 6 MW floating turbines operating in waters exceeding 100m of depth. The Pilot Park objectives will demonstrate cost efficient and low risk solutions for commercial scale parks. The project was destined to be in Maine, until Governor Paul LePage got involved. He forced through a bill revoking an agreement between the state of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission and Stratoil to build an offshore wind farm, with help from rate payers. Once the company learned that Gov. LePage would not honor the business agreement they decided to build the wind farm in the UK.
The technology that will be used in the pilot project has been tested in a demonstration project off the coast of Norway and with tests in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Statoil had plans for four test turbines off Boothbay Harbor. The company pulled out of Maine in October, 2013, saying it would focus its research and development in Scotland, which had a clearer policy on offshore wind energy.
Read more ›