The US Senate version of the farm bill, passed yesterday. The legislation contained a number of provisions that originated in a bill written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown designed to reform the nation’s farm policy.
The bill—a reauthorization of the Farm Bill—included provisions that promote and expand local agriculture.
“Local farming is good for the economy because the money consumers spend on food ends up staying in the community,” said Pingree. “And local food is also good for families who can put healthy, high quality food on the table.”
Unfortunately the Senate bill cuts money for food stamps by $4 billion over the next decade. The House version calls for cuts five times that size.
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The rendering of a Norwegian composite bridge to be built by Harbor Technologies. The bridge is designed to represent the migration of salmon, so concrete and steel could not be used.
The Brunswick company specializes in composite construction which makes structures more durable, more weather resistant and impact resistant. Working with researchers at the University of Maine’s composite Laboratory Harbor Technologies has developed new unique designs for pylons, and bridges. photo courtesy Harbor Technologies.
Harbor Technologies, a Brunswick company, has a $500,000 contract with a Norwegian firm to supply composite panels for a bridge to be built in Mandal, Norway.
Harbor Technologies is a composite manufacturer that produces bridge beams for transportation departments, such as the Knickerbocker Bridge in Boothbay, and composite pilings for the marine industry. They have an annual revenue between $6 million and $7 million and employ 40 people.
Martin Grimnes, founder of Harbor Technologies, explained that the Norwegian bridge is designed to represent the migration of salmon, so concrete and steel could not be used. Harbor Technologies will ship the bridge components through Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company that recently made its North American headquarters in Portland. The composite panels are each 20 feet long.
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Tags: Cutting-edge technology·Jobs·Transportation
The launching of America’s first floating wind turbine, which is also the world’s first composite/concrete platform and the world’s first composite ocean windmill tower, included a christening of VolturnUS with members of the DeepCWind Consortum, Maine’s Congressional Delegation and project director, Dr. Habib Dagher. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Hundreds of people gathered on the banks of the Penobscot River at Cianbro in Brewer to witness the launching of the first floating offshore wind turbine in U.S. history. The crowd applauded and cheered after a crane slowly lowered the 90,000-pound turbine into the river.
“There are many firsts here today,” said Habib Dagher, Director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “Not only is VolturnUS the first floating wind turbine in the US, it’s the first turbine tower to be completely made of composites, and the first concrete/ composite floating base in the world.”
The VolturnUS unit was assembled at Cianbro, an engineering construction company that partnered with the university to fabricate VolturnUS.
Cianbro workers talk about the collaborative offshore wind turbine project, VolturnUS, that they worked on with UMaine that could bring 20,000 jobs to the state. Photo by Ramona du Houx
“Led by the University of Maine, this project represents the first concrete-composite floating platform wind turbine to be deployed in the world – strengthening American leadership in innovative clean energy technologies that diversify the nation’s energy mix with more clean, domestic energy sources,” said the Department of Energy (DOE) in a press release.
On June 2 the prototype began its journey to the coast of Castine. A crew from the Maine Maritime Academy began towing the structure 30 miles down the Penobscot River where it will be moored in 70 feet waters and hooked up to the grid with an underwater cable. The waters off Castine are ideal for a test site because the waves are about one-eighth the height of the waves in the Gulf of Maine where full-scale turbines will eventually be positioned.
The full-scale offshore wind VolturnUS turbines will be 600 feet— taller than the Washington Monument. A 747 jumbo jet could fit on a blade of one of the big turbines.
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Tags: Cutting-edge technology·Jobs
Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue, Dr. Habib Dagher and UMaine President Paul Ferguson discuss the VolturnUS offshore wind turbine project collaboration. Ferguson called the offshore wind effort a prime example of “remarkable research enterprise” that has given the university global status as a research hub. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The University of Maine recently unveiled the unique design behind VolturnUS, their patented offshore wind turbine, which will be deployed later this month. The floating hallow concrete/composite foundation of the VolturnUS is the only one of it’s kind in the world.
The VolturnUS unit will be assembled at Cianbro, in Brewer. On May 31st this prototype will be towed down the Penobscot River, by a crew from the Maine Maritime Academy to a spot off the coast of Castine where it will be moored- to become the first floating wind turbine in the United States. The waters off Castine are ideal for a test site because the waves are about one-eighth the height of the waves in the Gulf of Maine where full-scale turbines will eventually be positioned. By June 3, the prototype will be hooked up to the grid and providing electricity.
The goal for Dr. Habib Dagher, who leads the effort as director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University, is to get the cost of offshore wind energy down so it competes, and eventually out competes, with energy generated from fossil fuels.
“In Europe offshore wind costs twice as much as wind energy harnessed on land. The purpose of VolturnUS is to bring that cost down. Our shared goal with the Department of Energy is to get the cost to ten cents a kilowatt-hour by 2020. It’s key to the whole project,” said Dagher. “VolturnUS brings down the cost to the point where it competes with fossil fuels.”
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Tags: Climate change·Cutting-edge technology·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
The Maine Senate and House passed a bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson to support American loggers. LD 491 specifically prohibits the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands from contracting for timber harvesting on land under its management if the contractor uses foreign workers. The bill, “An Act Regarding Timber Harvesting on Land Managed by the Division of Parks and Public Lands,” will face more votes in the House and the Senate.
“We must promote the hiring of American loggers who for too long have been underemployed as a result of contractors unethically, and at times illegally, hiring Canadian workers instead,” said Senator Jackson.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's forests
Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree introduced a bill to reverse the Department of Defense’s (DOD) avoidance of the Berry Amendment, which requires DOD to purchase American-made military uniforms. For decades the military issued servicemembers American-made uniforms, including athletic footwear. Since 2002, DOD has skirted the law when it comes to footwear by issuing new recruits cash allowances for training shoes.
“This is something the Obama Administration can do right now to boost the economy and ensure that our military is outfitted from head to toe in American-made uniforms,” said Michaud. “It’s long past time that the Defense Department complies with the letter and spirit of the law. It’s not only the right thing to do, it could provide a shot to the arm to companies like New Balance that employ hundreds of Mainers in Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan.”
The bill requires DOD to comply with the Berry Amendment by treating the purchase of athletic footwear in the same way as other uniform items. The introduction of today’s bill builds on legislation Michaud introduced in 2011 to accomplish the same goal and could help companies like New Balance that manufacture footwear in the United States.
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Sen. President Justin Alfond discusses the benefits of accepting Affordable Heath Care funds in Maine. photo by Morgan Rogers
There’s an old proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It means that, to help a child reach his or her potential, many people must share their wisdom and influence. Starting with a child’s parents, to her teachers, to the neighbor down the street. Each person has a different perspective and each perspective is important in shaping a child’s view of the world.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to move Maine forward. But, unfortunately, these days, it seems that one man – the Governor – is single-handedly blocking progress on Maine’s most important issues.
On jobs and the economy, energy, education, and health care, the Governor has been the most divisive leader Maine has seen. He has blocked common-sense policies that will help grow our economy and create jobs—even when these policies are supported by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the legislature. He has distracted us from the real issues we face—often, manufacturing disruption and crisis—one after the other. He seems intent on taking Maine on a race to the bottom and moving Maine backward.
Let’s look at the Governor’s record:
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Tags: Government transparency·Jobs
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced that a maritime shipping company has been selected to design a new vessel that would provide cargo service between Portland and New York, with a possible stop at another port in Southern New England. The design contract, for an articulated tug-barge, was funded by a $150,000 federal grant that Pingree had pushed for.The agreement between the Maine Port Authority and McAllister Towing and Transportation, calls for the initial design work to be completed by fall.
“The design of this vessel is the key to bringing increased domestic cargo service to Maine,” said Pingree. “This type of vessel will suit the needs of shippers in Maine and New York. It could cost between 1/3 and 1/2 what a more traditional container ship would cost and use fewer crew, thus reducing capital and operational costs that could then be passed on to shippers.”
Last year Pingree hosted a tour of the International Marine Terminal in Portland for U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. She told Matsuda that a new tug-barge design was the best option for starting a service that would movecargo between the Port of New York/New Jersey and Portland and urged him toapprove federal funding for the design. It’s important to spend time on the front end to design a vessel that fits the needs of shippers.
“We always work with our shippers first,” said John Henshaw, Executive Director of the Maine Port Authority. “With port infrastructure design, equipment investment, terminal layout – and in this case vessel design – we always begin with the customer.”
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Workers at ALCOM, a trailer manufacturer in Winslow, have been organizing for a union in their workplace. They are seeking representation with the Laborers Union (LiUNA). Since Friday, at least five workers have been fired. Many of their co-workers feel their termination was directly related to their union activity. The Company denies the charges.
“I like the work that I do, and I’m proud to be a good, dedicated worker. I have put nothing but hard work and extra hours in at ALCOM,” said Shawn Nutt of Vassalboro, a worker who was fired from ALCOM on Monday. “It’s clear to me that I was fired because I support the union and want to have a voice on the job. The company is trying to scare us.”
It is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act for an employer to retaliate in any way against a worker for engaging in union activity or concerted action to improve workplace conditions. Workers, unions, and employers can file Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board to spur an investigation into violations of the law.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life·unions
The Mayors’ Coalition today responded to Governor LePage’s recent letter inviting municipalities to contact him if we have “serious ideas for consideration” regarding the biennial budget. We are pleased to take the Governor up on his offer.
The bipartisan Coalition has offered three different suggestions “that are viable alternatives to the pending proposal.
“The Coalition proposed three options: raise taxes, raise taxes or raise taxes. How original,” said the Governor.
The three suggestions from the mayors to LePage are to suspend the pending Income Tax Cuts, Sales Tax Increase and Expansion and tax reform. The details are:
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