Pingree announces federal grants to rescue stranded seals and whales in Maine

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, News from Washington

A humpback whale off the coast of Acadia National Park. 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.

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The White House announces $68 Million to boost solar energy and cut greenhouse gases

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

ReVision worker installing solar panels.

The Obama administration, on September 18th, 2014, announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, and improving energy efficiency in rural areas.

The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.

The White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars.

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New census data shows thousands more Mainers do not have health care

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care

New census data released today shows thousands more Mainers are going without health care in the aftermath of Governor Paul LePage’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to federal Census Bureau data released today, the number of Mainers without any form of health care coverage grew by 12,000 in 2013 and the state uninsured rate rose from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013. Nationally, the rate of uninsured fell by .2 percent. Maine and New Jersey were the only states to experience an increase in the percentage of their people who do not have health insurance.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves, who led the effort to expand lifesaving health care to 70,000 thousands Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, said the data show Maine is going in the wrong direction.

“Maine is falling behind because our Governor and his allies put ideology over the health of our people and the strength of our economy,” said Eves. “We had a chance to provide lifesaving health care to nearly 70,000 Maine people, and instead thousands lost coverage. We had a chance to grow thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars into our economy and into our hospitals, and instead now we are lagging behind the nation in job growth and health.”

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Michaud’s Northern Border Regional Commission gets $1.2 Million for Maine

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

Michaud at Hinkley Boats. The company has worked in partnership with the UMaine composite laboratory to improve their boats.

Michaud at Hinkley Boats. The company has worked in partnership with the UMaine composite laboratory to improve their boats.

Maine is receiving more than $1.2 million from the Northern Border Regional Commission – which was created by legislation U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud authored several years ago with the aim of rejuvenating some of the most economically distressed areas in New England.

“When I authored the legislation creating the Northern Border Regional Commission, I did so with the hope that it would create good jobs for Mainers and help jumpstart the parts of our state where business development is needed most,” said Michaud. “Today’s latest round of grants to Maine communities and organizations is more proof of how the NBRC is working just as we had hoped – it’s protecting and even creating jobs, and it’s giving many of our communities the tools and infrastructure they need to flourish.”

Today’s grantees in Maine are:

· $250,000 to Indian Township Passamaquoddy Reservation, to build a maple processing facility in Jackson;

· $250,000 to the town of Hartland to line a solid waste landfill facility (NBRC estimates this will save 142 jobs);

· $226,000 to the town of Ashland, to upgrade a section of highway that is central to the town forest-products intermodal facility;

· $230,000 to the Maine Woods Products Association, to start a training and credentialing program for industry employees; and

· $250,000 to the city of Ellsworth, to develop a station to expand the availability of high-speed internet along the city’s main thoroughfare (NBRC predicts this will support up to 100 new jobs).

“These are great investments for our state – they’ll create jobs, strengthen infrastructure and make our state a better place to do business,” added Michaud. “I’m pleased the NBRC has been such a success, and I look forward to future investments in our state.”

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Michaud discuses plan for Maine’s Energy Future at E2Tech Forum- LePage missing

September 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

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

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.

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Gorham-based research group to get $1.1 million for wind power technology

September 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues

The VolturnUS 1:8 comfortably resting in the water. The full size offshore wind VolturnUS turbines will be over 600 feet tall— taller than the Washington Monument. The big units will be fabricated onshore and assembled on the water. Photo by Ramona du HouxCongresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that the Gorham-based Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) is getting a $1.1 million federal grant to help them develop innovative new technology to detect birds and bats near wind turbines. Pingree had pushed for the funding for BRI and said it will help the growing wind power industry in Maine while protecting important bird and bat species.

“The wind power industry is creating jobs in Maine while developing new sources of clean energy,” Pingree said. “But for the industry to keep growing we have to develop better ways to make sure wind turbines aren’t having an impact on the environment. This research that BRI is collaborating on will help do that and is a great example of how Maine can be a leader in clean energy technology.”

BRI will use the grant to further develop a system of high-tech cameras that detect birds and bats in the area of wind turbines. The project is a collaboration with private and public partners including the University of Maine, First Wind and HiDefAerial Surveying.

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Vice President Biden impressed by Maine’s manufacturing history and potential

September 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Labor issues, Speeches

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone's hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone’s hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard September 3rd with Maine Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, to highlight the history and future of Maine’s manufacturing innovation.

The tour of the 214-year-old Naval Shipyard gave Michaud a chance to share Maine’s shipbuilding history, manufacturing potential, and University of Maine’s “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” initiative, with Biden.

“I’ve traveled a million miles around the world as vice president and I traveled a million miles before that,” said Biden to more than a 1000 attendees at the shipyard. “And the fact of the matter is you’re the best in the world. It’s true.”

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Mike Michaud honored with ‘Working Class Hero’ award from Labor Council

September 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Labor issues

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was recognized by the Southern Maine Labor Council (SMLC) with their Working Class Hero Award today. Fellow Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree and SMLC President Douglas Born presented Michaud with the award at the organization’s annual Labor Day Breakfast in Portland.

“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award from the Southern Maine Labor Council. Maine’s workforce represents the heart of our communities and the true engine of our economy,” said Michaud. “I’ve never forgotten my roots, and I’ve never forgotten the importance of using my position in Congress to work for the betterment of all Maine families. I know that by continuing to stand side-by-side, we can keep making meaningful advancements on the issues most important to Maine families.”

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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.

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New KeepME Home initiative to make life better for older Mainers

August 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Health Care

The Maine Council on Aging (MCOA)—made up of over 30 organizations working to ensure the well-being of Maine’s older adults—announced its support today of a package of legislative proposals presented by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves.

“Maine is the oldest state in the nation — each day more than 50 people turn 65. These numbers must be a call to action for our state leaders,” said Eves, who has who has spearheaded a statewide aging initiative to address Maine’s aging challenges. “We must transform how people age in our state so they can live independently in their communities and homes. That is the goal of the “KeepME Home” initiative.”

The “KeepME Home” initiatives announced by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves addresses several critical needs for older Mainers: affordable housing near services, access to needed home care and financial security.

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