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Environmental Community Outraged by Governor’s Proposal   
Environmental Community Outraged by Governor’s Proposal
January 24, 2011
Contact: Maureen Drouin, Executive Director, Maine League of Conservation Voters 485-0215 or maureen@mlcv.org


Environmental Community Outraged by Governor’s Proposal

Augusta, ME – Members of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, a coalition of twenty-four environmental, conservation and public health organizations representing over 100,000 collective members statewide, blasted Governor LePage’s proposal to weaken a wide range of protections for Maine’s clean air, clean water, public health and natural heritage. Many of the Governor’s recommendations weaken decades of successful legislation that passed in the state legislature with bi-partisan support.

“A dirty environment is not the way to bring new jobs to Maine,” said Maureen Drouin, Executive Director of the Maine League of Conservation Voters. “In fact, Maine’s water, land, and wildlife are the heartbeat of our economy and our way of life. This proposal is nothing short of reckless. Dismantling our environmental protections flies in the face of common sense and takes us in the completely wrong direction.”

Governor LePage’s sixty-three recommendations include: repealing a law that passed unanimously in the Senate last year (LD 1662) to protect children’s health from sulfur dioxide pollution; abolishing the Board of Environmental Protection; and opening up 30% of Maine’s North Woods to development.

“This radical set of proposals from Governor LePage would dismantle decades of progress protecting Maine’s environment and preserving our natural heritage. If passed, these policies would increase air pollution, threaten wildlife, open the North Woods to rampant development, and make companies that break the rules less accountable, among many other far reaching impacts,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.

The impact of Maine’s environment on its economy is significant. The state’s forest-based manufacturing, tourism, and recreation contributes $6.5 billion annually to Maine’s economy; wildlife-related recreation contributes $1.5 billion; and Maine’s fishing industry contributes $1 billion.

“Just last November, despite challenging economic times and a sweeping change in political leadership, Maine people still voted overwhelmingly to protect our environment,” said Jenn Gray of Maine Audubon. “Over 59% of Maine people said ‘yes’ to investing in land conservation by voting for renewed funding for Land for Maine’s Future program.”

Other proposals include scaling back hazardous waste and water quality standards.

“This proposal cuts down our core values: clean drinking water and clean air for our families, an energy future that reduces pollution and cuts our dependence on oil and the conservation of our natural legacy for future generations,” said Jane West of the Conservation Law Foundation. “We need a more sophisticated approach to improving our regulatory systems than simply tearing down the solid foundation that benefits every family and business in Maine.”

Governor LePage would also repeal a rule to get the toxic Bisphenol-A (BPA) out of baby bottles and other consumer products, and overturn the 2008 Kids-Safe Products Act.

"Everyone wins when Maine prevents disease, expands business opportunities, and reduces health care costs by replacing the most dangerous chemicals in everyday products with safer alternatives," said Steve Taylor, Program Director for the Environmental Health Strategy Center. "Maine's Kid-Safe Products Act passed with virtually unanimous bipartisan support, because it's a practical, common-sense policy. Maine should not sacrifice children's health to benefit international chemical companies."

“This out-of-touch proposal strikes at the heart of all that is important to Maine people,” says Karen Woodsum of Maine Sierra Club, “Conserving our natural legacy takes vision and vigilance, and our elected officials play a central role.”

The Governor’s submission goes to the Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform.

“The Governor has assured the people of Maine that his Administration would not weaken Maine’s environmental standards, but these proposals are all about weakening Maine’s environmental standards – including the elimination of programs that protect public health, reduce toxic and air pollution, and save taxpayers money. We urge the Legislature to reject the entire package, and focus instead on improving the efficiency of implementation of Maine’s laws. That’s what this process was supposed to be about,” says Pete Didisheim, Advocacy Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

“Maine businesses and homeowners face real problems, such the roughly $2 billion exported out of state and overseas to run our businesses and heat our homes,” said Ellen Hawes of Environment Northeast. “We had hoped that this evaluation of regulations would be careful and thoughtful – and produce good and new ideas for the future. Instead it is a list of rollbacks that would turn the clock back to the 1950s and would damage public health under the guise of reducing business costs.”

“Maine’s beautiful environment is the foundation to our prosperity and our way of life,” concludes Drouin. “We are counting on the Legislature to fight this irresponsible proposal and make wise-use of our extraordinary environment so Maine people and our economy can thrive.”

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The Environmental Priorities Coalition includes 24 environmental, conservation, and public health organizations representing over 100,000 members who want to protect the good health, good jobs and quality of life provided by Maine’s environment.

Coalition members include: American Lung Association in Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Health Strategy Center, Environment Maine, Environment Northeast, Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Audubon, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Congress of Lake Associations, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Council of Trout Unlimited, Maine Conservation Voters Education Fund, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Rivers, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Maine Chapter, RESTORE: The North Woods, Sierra Club, Maine Chapter, The Ocean Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, Toxics Action Center

Posted on 1/24/2011 (Archive on 2/14/2011)
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