Maine’s LePage wants a law to help pipeline companies to seize private property

September 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights

In a letter made public last week, Gov. Paul LePage urged members of Maine’s congressional delegation to support legislation that would make it significantly easier for private businesses to use eminent domain to seize property from unwilling landowners. LePage wrote to U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud urging them to support H.R. 1900, “The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act.”

The bill makes it much easier for companies proposing to build new natural gas pipelines to sidestep important environmental safeguards and move more quickly to seize private property. This would be especially problematic for landowners in rural Maine. The process of “fracking: to obtain natural gas has been plagued with problems. Water lines have been compromised causing gas to pour through them making the contents flammable, and earthquakes in states not prone to them have happened.

Using the current system, FERC approves 90 percent of pipeline applications within 12 months. H.R. 1900 would disrupt the system by requiring FERC to approve or deny all natural gas pipeline applications, regardless of size or complexity, within one year, and require all relevant agencies to approve or deny related permits within 90 days. If FERC or another agency fails to issue their decisions within the allotted timeframes the application or permits would be automatically approved.The arbitrary deadlines set forth by H.R. 1900 would cause agencies to either rush permits – jeopardizing public health, safety, and the environment – or needlessly deny permits when time limits prevent full environmental reviews. More concerning still, if an application deadline is exceeded, a pipeline company would be automatically granted the power of eminent domain – the ability to take a private landowner’s property,” wrote Congressman Michaud in a letter to LePage.”

“Matters of public safety, Maine’s environment and private property rights are critically important issues that should be fully and carefully considered, not subject to unnecessary deadlines. It is for these reasons that I voted against H.R. 1900 and continue to oppose the legislation.”

The East-West Highway, a proposal by private investors to build a transportation corridor connecting Calais to Canada through western Maine, is an example of a private project that is likely to require eminent domain.

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Millicent M. MacFarland of Augusta passed away on Saturday after a long battle with cancer

September 28th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Capitol news

The Clerk of the Maine House Hon. Millicent M. MacFarland of Augusta passed away on Saturday surrounded by friends and family after a long courageous battle with cancer. She was 58.

“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of the Hon. Millie MacFarland,” said House Speaker Mark Eves. “Millie’s service to the people of Maine and to the Maine House for the past 32 years, including a decade as Clerk of the House, has been marked by the highest standard of professionalism and integrity. Under Democratic and Republican administrations, she served faithfully. Her commitment was always to the people of Maine. In both my tenure as the Speaker and as a member of the Legislature, Millie served as an adviser, a trusted friend, and a teacher to me and to the thousands of legislators that came through the House Chamber under her watch. Her expertise and commitment to public service guided us all. As Clerk, she has been the unsung and quiet steady hand shepherding many of the laws that have shaped our state. We will all miss her at the rostrum, in the House Chamber, and the halls of our great Capitol building.”

MacFarland served the Maine House of Representatives in various capacities for over 30 years, including more than a decade as Clerk of the House, a position she held from 2012-2014 under Speaker Eves, and from December 2000 to December 2010 under prior Speakers.

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New steps to reduce corporate tax dodges

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy

US. Capitol on the morning of President Barack Obama's Inaugural of 2013. photo by Ramona du Houx

US. Capitol on the morning of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural of 2013. photo by Ramona du Houx

The U.S. Treasury announced major steps on September 22nd to reduce the number of American companies who are dodging taxes by moving their parent companies overseas.

“These transactions erode the U.S. tax base, unfairly placing a larger burden on all other taxpayers, including small businesses and hardworking Americans,” the U.S. Treasury wrote in a statement.

This type of business move — known as an inversion — has been highlighted by President Obama. Recently Burger King announced it was merging with the Canadian chain Tim Hortons, making them based in Canada. The deal would have “inverted” Burger King’s tax bill, saving them from paying their fair of taxes.

Treasury’s new steps will change these corporation practices announced two moves:

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Hon. George Mitchell endorses Michaud for Maine governor

September 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine

Sen. George Mitchell at a groundbreaking for an environmentally friendly village development. photo by Ramona du Houx

Sen. George Mitchell at a groundbreaking for an environmentally friendly village development. photo by Ramona du Houx

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the frontrunner in the race for governor, today announced the endorsement of one of Maine’s most senior statesmen, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

“Maine’s next governor will face serious challenges,” said Sen. Mitchell. “I’m confident that Mike’s experience at both the state level – where he chaired the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and presided over an evenly divided Senate – and at the federal level as a ranking member in Congress, make him ideally suited to bring stability to the state budget, tackle the problems facing Maine businesses and restore a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Augusta.”

Sen. Mitchell served as U.S. Senator from Maine from 1980-1995 and as Senate majority leader from 1989-1995. He played a lead role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, serving as U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland under President William Jefferson Clinton and as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under President Barack Obama. He began his political career serving as executive assistant to Maine Senator Edmond S. Muskie from 1962-1965.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud calls for end to gutter politics amid Maine GOP lies

September 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

Mike Michaud in Congress always stood up for the workers of Maine, despite administrations. Courtesy photo

Mike Michaud in Congress always stood up for the workers of Maine, despite administrations. Courtesy photo

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud set the record straight about recent Maine Republican Party attacks today and denounced the Maine Republican Party’s lies and dirty tactics.

“Nasty, ‘gotcha’ politics like this won’t get the economy moving. I could stand here and rattle off a list of offensive comments Gov. LePage has made, but Mainers deserve better than that,” Michaud said. “Our state cannot tolerate four more years of negativity, of baseless attacks and outright lies.”

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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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