Entries Filed in 'Environment'

Green crab invasion of Maine’s coast made real by O’Chang vedio

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, Science

A Maine College of Art student, Hanji O’Chang of O’Chang Comics, animated a video that is raising awareness about the devastating impact of green crabs on the soft-shell clam industry. O’Chang worked with University of Maine at Machias professor Brian Beal, scientist Darcie Couture of Resource Access International LLC, the Maine Clammers Association and others to learn about the army of green crabs that are devastating soft-shell clams up and down the Maine coast.

“Attack of the Green Crabs,” is a 4½-minute news type video narrated by Adam O’Chang and posted on YouTube

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Endangered Piping Plovers return to Southern Maine

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, Science

Piping Plover's in Maine. Photo: Amanda Reed

Piping Plover’s in Maine. Photo: Amanda Reed

Maine Audubon reported today that several Piping Plover nesting pairs have returned to southern Maine beaches. All beach goers and beachfront landowners along the coast should be aware of nesting plovers, from Ogunquit Beach up the coast to Reid State Park in Georgetown. As of April 1, no dogs are allowed on Ogunquit Beach and in state parks, including Crescent, Ferry and Scarborough Beaches in Scarborough, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg and Reid State Park in Georgetown. Dog ordinances vary by town on local town beaches. Please check with your local town office.

Piping Plovers are listed as an endangered species in Maine and are threatened under federal law. The Piping Plover Recovery Project, a collaboration between Maine Audubon, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and local municipalities, works to educate the public about plover nesting areas to ensure their protection and increase their population.

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Citizen Scientists Needed to Help Endangered Species in Maine

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Environment, Science

Maine Audubon seeks volunteers to survey roads in southern Maine for signs of endangered species road crossings. Information collected by volunteers about where, when and how many animals cross our roads is the critical first step in identifying ways to reduce wildlife road mortality. Unless changes are made, Maine Audubon biologists report that Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are likely to become extinct in Maine due to road mortality.

Maine Audubon’s Endangered Species Road Watch program began in 2012; forty volunteers surveyed 22 routes throughout southern Maine. The organization’s goal is to have at least two volunteers per route this coming season. “We know there are areas in southern Maine where endangered species are severely impacted because of roads,” said Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon staff naturalist. “That’s the goal of this program – to identify those areas and figure out what can be done to improve the conditions for Maine wildlife and Maine drivers. We can’t do it without our team of trained citizen scientists.”

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Solar Energy bill becomes law without Gov. LePage’s signature

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 40

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

A solar energy bill that passed through the legislature with overwhelming support became law without his Governor Paul LePage’s signature.

“For a decade lawmakers have worked together in a bipartisan manner to move Maine’s energy policy forward, and we continue to do so with this law,” said Democratic Senator Eloise VItelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the bill.“Maine is one of the most oil-dependent states in the country. This law will give the people in our state an opportunity to do something about that.”

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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Lawmakers pass East Coast’s first ocean acidification bill

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Environment, Farming, Issue 40

The Legislature on Thursday passed the East Coast’s first bill to address the threat of ocean acidification as the Senate gave the measure its final approval with a vote of 33-0. The bill, LD 1602, now goes to Gov. Paul LePage.

“Maine has the opportunity to lead on this issue,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the bill’s sponsor and a marine biologist. “The overwhelming support for my bill shows that Maine understands that ocean acidification is a real problem. It poses a threat to our coastal environment and the jobs that depend on it. We must address this threat head-on.”

The measure would establish a commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem and major inshore shellfisheries. The committee membership would be made up of stakeholders including fishermen, aquaculturists, scientists and legislators.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are causing changes in ocean chemistry. As carbon dioxide and seawater combine, carbonic acid forms. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.

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Maine lakes protection bill goes to LePage for signature

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

A bill that would protect Maine lakes and the local economies that depend on them is on the way to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

The Legislature on Friday passed LD 1744, An Act to Protect Maine Lakes, as the Senate gave the measure final approval with a vote.

“We hope the governor signs this bill to show how much Maine values its lakes. They support $3.5 billion in annual economic activity and the jobs of 52,000 Mainers,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill will ensure responsible stewardship and protect the water quality that affects property owners, wildlife and local economies.”

The Legislature approved the bill at a time when water quality is declining.

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

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Economy, Environment, Issue 40

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 · 1 Comment · 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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