Entries Filed in 'Environment'

Lawmakers tell DEP to strengthen mining rules, protect waters and taxpayers

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Economy, Environment

Western Mountains of Maine photo by Ramona du Hoxu

Western Mountains of Maine photo by Ramona du Hoxu

The Legislature voted to reject inadequate proposed mining rules and gave final approval Wednesday to a measure that directs the Department of Environmental Protection to draft rules that will protect Maine’s environment and taxpayers.

The Senate voted unanimously on a resolve, which requires new rules to be rewritten and submitted to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2016. It now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

“We must make sure we protect the waters of Maine. If we are to have mining in Maine, we must make sure it protects our groundwater, lakes and other waterways. If we are to have mining in Maine, we must make sure that taxpayers are not saddled with clean-up costs as they have been in the past,” said Rep. Joan Welsh, the House chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.

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Bill that would have provided rebates for heat pumps and solar panels blocked by Republicans

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment

Electrician installing solar panels on the roof of a building. Both lawmakers agree more R&D bonds are necessary to grow a clean an innovative economy.

Electrician installing solar panels on the roof of a building. Most lawmakers agreed solar rebates would help Maine grow a clean an innovative economy.But extreme Tea Party Republicans blocked the effort.

In a 22-13 vote, the Senate Republicans sustained Governor LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided rebates for solar panels and heat pumps for low-income Mainers. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.

The Senate originally supported the measure in a vote of 22-12. Republican Senator Ron Collins initially supported the bill then flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto.The measure would have reestablished the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and helped Mainers install more than 1,250 new solar panels and heat pumps at Maine homes and businesses.

“This bill would have created jobs in an emerging industry and helped low-income Mainers heat their homes,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson. “Why would you oppose jobs for Maine, or assistance for the elderly and low-income Mainers struggling to pay their oil bills? It’s disappointing Governor LePage’s veto spree has once again hurt our economy and hurt some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70 percent of households using it as their primary heating source. According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24 percent of Maine’s electricity.

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Bill to ensure Maine meets dam relicensing deadlines is now law

April 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Environment

LD 1826, An Act to Protect the State’s Authority in Issues Concerning Federal Relicensing of Dams Located in the State, became law without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage.

“I’m so pleased that this bill is now law. The state has forfeited too much by missing deadlines in the past. These are mistakes that have serious implications for wildlife, traditional sports, property owners and our recreation and tourism economies,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, the sponsor of the bill. The bill had passed unanimously “under the hammer” in both chambers.

McCabe of Skowhegan introduced the bill in response to the public outcry over the missed deadlines, which resulted in the state losing its authority to weigh in on water quality issues in those bodies of water. During the LePage administration, DEP missed three relicensing deadlines for and nearly missed a fourth.

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Maine House overrides LePage veto of solar energy bill

April 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

In a vote of 105 to 41, the Maine House overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would provide rebates for solar panels as well as heat pump rebates for low-income Mainers.

LD 1252 reestablishes the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and would help more than 1,250 new solar panel and hot water projects at Maine homes and businesses.

“The strong bipartisan support for clean, renewable energy sources bodes well for the people of Maine,” said bill sponsor Rep. Terry Morrison. “We cannot afford to continue to subsidize big oil without looking at other options. We must explore all of our alternatives and not let ideology limit our ability to save our citizens money. Maine people are struggling to pay their bills. Solar panels and heat pumps are a part of an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy to put more in the pockets of the people we serve.”

The bill that was vetoed was crafted in a bipartisan manner with the addition of an amendment from Rep. Lance Harvell, that would provide Mainers who qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program with rebates for heat pumps. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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$1 million federal grant to protect Maine coastal lands

April 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, News from Washington

Several conservation groups in Maine would receive a $1 million federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to protect valuable coastal lands across the state.

In York County, funds will provide matching dollars for Kittery Land Trust’s Brave Boat Harbor Headwaters project and efforts by the York Land Trust to protect land along the York River. The projects are part of the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea(MtA2C) conservation initiative, an effort to protect significant lands in the largest un-fragmented coastal forest between Acadia National Park and the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The MtA2C partnership includes several private groups, state agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

“The lands these groups in York County are working to protect represent some of the most diverse and critical wildlife habitat in the Northeast,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Moreover, they are key to protecting water quality, fisheries, and the unique character in some of Maine’s fastest growing communities. My appreciation and congratulations go out to all the partners who are working so hard to conserve these key lands for future generations.”

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Maine’s lawmakers rejects proposed mining rules

April 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Environment

The House on Wednesday rejected inadequate proposed mining rules and gave its final approval to a measure that directs the Department of Environmental Protection to draft rules that will protect Maine’s environment and taxpayers.
The House gave unanimous approval to LD 1772. The bill requires new rules to be rewritten and submitted to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2016.

“Maine’s natural resources play a vital role in the state’s economic security,” said Rep. Joan Welsh, the House chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee. “We must make sure that mining doesn’t harm the environment. Mining rules must be done right to ensure that Mainers aren’t faced with a mess they have to clean up.”

The rules rejected Wednesday would allow mines that are so polluting that they would require treatment of toxic wastewater in perpetuity. They would also allow the possibility of the spread of polluted groundwater and mines to be located on public land and next to lakes and rivers.

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Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s denies Mallinckrodt LLC’s appeal of the cleanup order for the HoltraChem

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Environment

The Maine People’s Alliance today applauded the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to deny Mallinckrodt LLC’s appeal of the cleanup order for the HoltraChem site in Orrington.

“With the federal lawsuit on the downriver pollution commencing in June, we need to see some progress on the site. When I make a mess, I clean it up. Mallinckrodt needs to clean up our town too,” said Tim Conmee, an MPA member and Orrington resident. “We need to get to work on the cleanup because it’s been years – it’s time to make our town whole again and move forward.”

For almost twenty years, MPA has been a leading advocate for holding the company responsible for the pollution and subsequent cleanup of mercury in the Penobscot River.

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Maine’s Solar incentive bill receives unanimous State Senate approval

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Solar power in Maine is about to receive rebates from lawmakers. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Solar power in Maine is about to receive rebates from lawmakers. Photo by Ramona du Houx

 The Maine State Senate unanimously gave initial approval to a measure to increase solar energy development in Maine.

“Maine is the only state in New England without a solar incentive program and because of this we are missing out on an important opportunity to increase access to energy, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy,” said Senator Vitelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the measure. “The sun is the most abundant energy source on the planet and we would do well to take advantage of it.”

Senator Vitelli’s bill creates roadmap for solar power in Maine, based upon a tax incentive program of the Baldacci administration that was law until the funds ran out and the LePage administration refused to continue the program.

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Maine’s ocean acidification bill wins initial House support

March 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Economy, Education, Environment

A proposal to address how changing ocean chemistry can damage Maine’s coast, shellfish industry and jobs won initial support by unanimous consent in the House Monday.

L.D. 1602, a measure sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, would establish a commission to study the effects of ocean acidification and its potential effects on commercial shellfish harvested along the Maine coast.

“Our entire state depends on the well-being of our coastal habitats,” said Devin, a marine biologist. “If we don’t address the effects of changing ocean chemistry, thousands of jobs and the entire coastal economy could be at risk.”

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Dam relicensing bill advances with unanimous committee support in Maine

March 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Environment

A bill to ensure that the state Department of Environmental Protection will not miss any more federal dam relicensing deadlines is advancing in the Legislature after winning unanimous support from the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Monday.

The 11 committee members present all voted in support of LD 1826, An Act to Protect the State’s Authority in Issues Concerning Federal Relicensing of Dams Located in the State.

“Maine has given up too much by missing these important deadlines. These mistakes cost us the ability to set water levels. It impacts wildlife, traditional sports, property owners and our recreation and tourism economies,” said McCabe Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabeid. “It’s gratifying to work with the administration on this pressing issue.”

McCabeid introduced the bill in response to the public outcry over the missed deadlines, which resulted in the state losing its authority to weigh in on water quality issues in those bodies of water. During the LePage administration, DEP missed three relicensing deadlines for and nearly missed a fourth.

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