April 29, 2016  
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Maine Environmental News
Announcement - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Thanks for visiting Maine Environmental News, the most comprehensive online source available for links to Maine conservation and natural resource news and events. I have posted summaries and links to 40,000 news articles and announcements. I also post breaking stories and exclusives. Be sure to check not only today's news, but take a look at the headlines from the past several days as well. Articles often come to my attention a few days after they are published. Follow us on Twitter @MaineEnviroNews. ~ Jym St. Pierre, RESTORE: The North Woods
Fishing on Changing Waters, May 12
Event - Posted - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Two short films showing the direct impacts fishermen and fishing communities are feeling from the changes happening in the Gulf of Maine. Following, scientists and local fishermen will share what they are seeing and how the industry can move forward to adapt and strengthen for generations. At Frontier, Brunswick, May 12, 6 pm.
Copenhagen to Berlin: A solo sustainability cycling tour, May 5
Event - Posted - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

Alicia Heyburn, who is a Community Spoke for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and a Registered Maine Guide, will share what she experienced last summer cycling solo from Copenhagen to Berlin learning about local foods, the shared economy, traveling slowly, self-acceptance and the benefits of significant government investment in long term sustainability solutions. At Curtis Library, Brunswick, May 5, presentation at 7 pm following optional potluck at 6 pm. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Chapter.
A Climate of Change, May 5
Event - Posted - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

This series of four short films examine the effects associated with climate change on the fishing industry, including warming waters, lack of biodiversity, and ocean acidification. Q&A panel following the films. At Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium, May 5, 7 pm.
A New National Park for Maine, May 4
Event - Posted - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 

Eliza Donoghue will explain Elliotsville Plantation, Inc.’s proposal to create a National Park and National Recreation Area east of Baxter State Park. At Wells Reserve, May 4, 12 pm, $2. Sponsored by Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Birding by ear, May 3
Event - Posted - Tuesday, April 26, 2016 

As Maine’s songbirds return, learn how to identify them by ear with one of Maine’s top birding experts, Bob Duchesne. At Jesup Memorial Library, Bar Harbor, May 3, 7 pm.
Sewall Woods Preserve Birding Walk, Apr 30
Event - Posted - Saturday, April 23, 2016 

Merrymeeting Audubon’s Ted Allen leads a bird walk in the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s Sewall Woods Preserve in Bath, April 30, 8 am.
Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, Apr 30
Event - Posted - Saturday, April 23, 2016 

Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will be celebrating on April 30 as the industry kicks off the growing season.
KELT Stewardship Series 2016
Event - Posted - Saturday, April 23, 2016 

Explore the basics about vernal pools and learn how the state designates a vernal pool habitat. At Lilly Pond Community Forest, Bath, April 30, 1 pm. Sponsored by Kennebec Estuary Land Trust.
Early Maine Woods Photography, Apr 29
Event - Posted - Friday, April 22, 2016 

Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth will present Edwin R. Starbird’s photography of the Rangeley, Moosehead, and Katahdin regions, the most comprehensive record of how the North Woods appeared in the late 19th century. At Jesup Memorial Library, Bar Harbor, April 29, 7 pm.
Short Course on Coastal Habitats
Announcement - Thursday, April 21, 2016 

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) is offering a seven-session short course on Harpswell’s coastal habitats this May and June. This pilot program provides an in-depth learning opportunity for adults. The seven-session course starts May 18 and costs $35.
Birding by Ear, Apr 27
Event - Posted - Wednesday, April 20, 2016 

Doug Hitchcox, Staff Naturalist at Maine Audubon, will present “Birding by Ear.” At Viles Arboretum, Augusta, April 27, 7 pm. Sponsored by Augusta Bird Club.
The Role of Forests Over Time, Apr 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 

Si Balch of Manomet Climate Smart Network will describe his decades of observations as a professional forester, and how the work of foresters is changing as conditions change. At Topsham Public Library, April 26, 6:30 pm.
Woodcock Watch, Apr 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 

Experience the American Woodcock’s mating dance with Rob Bryan. At Harpswell Heritage Land Trust's Curtis Farm Preserve, April 26, 7:30 pm.
The National Parks: America's Best Idea, Apr 25-30
Announcement - Monday, April 18, 2016 

See Ken Burn's series on "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." On Maine Public TV, April 25-30.
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News Items
Letter: LePage lacks business sense
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, April 30, 2016 

After following Gov. Paul LePage for several years, I would not bet the farm on his business ability. In 2013, the Maine Public Utilities Commission finalized an initial agreement with Statoil to develop an offshore wind power project on the Maine coast. Statoil was to invest $120 million in the project and Maine ratepayers were supposed to contribute to this effort. Maine was poised to become first state in the nation to develop offshore wind power. LePage pressured the Legislature to change the rules in the bidding process, favoring instead UMaine. Shortly afterward, Statoil withdrew its Maine project. By chasing Statoil away from Maine, LePage managed to deprive Maine people of badly needed jobs and investment dollars. When mills close, he blames others, usually with an angry tirade. ~ Robert D. Tweedie, Westfield
Letter: I-395/Route 9 connector sad
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, April 30, 2016 

It is sad to think of what our currently peaceful neighborhood will be like once the I-395/Route 9 connector is built. It is sad that we wasted years with public meetings with the Department of Transportation, which promised the towns and residents a voice in how and where this connector would be built, or not built. It is sad that we taxpayers will be dishing out $61 million or more for a road when the state can’t keep up with repairs to the roads and bridges we already have. It is sad that since this project started in 2000 traffic patterns, mill closings and other changes in our area do not change a thing. It is sad that more people don’t check out the truth. It’s just plain sad. ~ Carol and Vinal Smith, Brewer
127th Maine Legislature wrap-up of environmental issues
Maine Environmental News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Here is a summary of what happened with key bills on environmental and conservation issues dealt with by the 127th Maine Legislature. It is based on information from the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition, Maine Legislative Information Office, and other sources.
Legislature fails to override LePage veto of bill to protect Maine state forest funds
Maine Environmental News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

The Maine Legislature today failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1629, a bill aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund. Most importantly, LD 1629 was written to clarify that revenues generated from logging on Maine’s Public Reserved Lands cannot be raided by a governor to be used for unrelated purposes. Last year, Gov. LePage tried to do just that. LD 1629 would have codified in statute that no governor can pull that gimmick again. Lawmakers approved the bill in mid April without dissent. However, Gov. LePage vetoed the bill on April 27. On Friday, the Maine House voted 90 to 58 to override the veto, but that was three votes short of the needed two-thirds. A few Republicans voted to override, but most supported LePage.
The veto votes are finished
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

The Legislature has completed its work, at least as far as vetoes are concerned. The Senate took its vote on the final veto from Gov. Paul LePage at about 4:30 p.m. Friday. Of the 33 vetoes considered Friday, 12 were sustained and one bill, LD 1481, was sent back to committee, where it will die later today when the Legislature adjourns sine die. That means the work of the 127th Legislature is done — unless a special session is called between now and the end of the year.
Maine Legislators Sustain Governor’s Veto of Unique Solar Bill
Other - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Renewable Energy World - A vote of the Maine House of Representatives today upheld Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of solar legislation designed to modernize Maine’s solar power policy. The bill, which was approved by the Maine House and Senate and sent last week to the Governor for his signature, stemmed from a study of the value of solar conducted by state regulators and was designed to provide a balance between the interests of utilities and solar power providers in the state. LePage vetoed the bill on April 27. The reaction on social media to the House vote was mixed.
Proposed inland storage sites add to Maine natural gas review
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

After regulators sort out whether Maine electricity customers should pay up to $75 million annually to help fund expanded natural gas pipeline capacity, they may have another question before them: whether ratepayers should help pay for natural gas storage facilities. The joint venture Northern LNG, which led the push for Maine regulators to consider natural gas storage, has designs on such facilities in Brewer or Rumford.
Lawmakers uphold LePage veto, killing bill to boost solar energy
Portland Press Herald - Friday, April 29, 2016 

House lawmakers upheld Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a closely watched solar energy bill Friday in a blow to supporters who argued the measure would boost the industry and create jobs. The House actually voted twice on the bill but, despite a heavy State House presence of solar users and industry representatives, the outcome did not change. In the end, the 93-50 vote in the House was a few votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto from LePage, a frequent critic of Maine’s renewable energy policies.
Maine Solar Bill Defeated as Override Bid Fails
Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2016 

The Maine House has failed to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill to modernize state policies on solar power. A last-minute effort to resurrect the bill on a second vote also failed. Rep. Sara Gideon, assistant Democratic leader, said Friday the proposal would've spurred job creation. But Rep. Ken Fredette, House Republican leader, said he feared it would kill jobs by raising energy costs while helping only a small number of Mainers.
Solar bill dead...for now...after Republicans sustain LePage veto
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

A heavily lobbied bill to reform the way Maine solar energy producers are paid in a bid to grow and save industry jobs died after House Republicans voted to sustain a LePage veto on Friday, although a reconsideration vote may follow. Environmental interests were saying a reconsideration vote is likely on Friday, with House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, saying he held the bill to get “clarifying information” and another vote may come today. Ahead of that, the Maine League of Conservation Voters was putting pressure on four House Republicans to change their votes.
Why these pools in the forest are more important than you may think
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

The effects of vernal pools on the surrounding forest are seen long after the pools disappear. The insects and amphibians that emerge from the pools in the spring provide plentiful food for birds and mammals well into the fall. Vernal pools also protect and preserve surrounding lands year-round. Pools fill up like reservoirs after heavy rains, dampening potential floods. Pools also help filter nutrients out of storm runoff water that could otherwise foul lakes and rivers. While they may be small in stature and in time, vernal pools can nourish the senses in the spring and the forest through the year. ~ Zachary T. Wood and Jared J. Homola, Ph.D. students, UMaine
Editorial: Solar bill offers right answers for Maine
Portland Press Herald - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Lawmakers who are considering voting to sustain Gov. LePage’s veto of L.D. 1649, the modernization of the state’s market for solar energy, should take a hard look at his arguments. They simply don’t hold up. Lawmakers have a choice: They can create a system where Maine can take advantage of new technologies that would provide low-cost, clean power now and in the future, or they can cling to an antiquated system that will become more expensive over time. That’s a quiz that we cannot afford Maine to fail.
Opinion: Override the veto so Maine can benefit from modern solar policy
Portland Press Herald - Friday, April 29, 2016 

L.D. 1649 istruly good policy: a path forward for Maine that increases solar installation tenfold, creates 650 new jobs and protects 300 existing jobs and makes it easier for residents, communities, companies, farms and forestry businesses to take advantage of solar power. The bill does this while lowering electricity bills for all electric customers – an estimated $58 million to $110 million in savings – and mitigating climate change. Maine has been lagging for too long in solar. As the only New England state without a comprehensive solar policy, it should be no surprise that we’re in the region’s last place in solar job creation and solar development. This landmark legislation puts us in a position to lead the nation in 21st-century energy policy. We must embrace this opportunity and make this legislation law. ~ Rep. David Woodsome (R-North Waterboro) and Rep. Sara Gideon (D-Freeport)
Letter: Sales tax break will benefit loggers, farmers
Morning Sentinel - Friday, April 29, 2016 

When I first ran for office, one of my top priorities was helping the local businesses and farmers in our state. I wanted to make sure they have every opportunity possible to thrive and grow their businesses. That is why I am so pleased that recently the Maine Legislature passed a bill to exempt commercial farmers and loggers from paying sales tax on off-road fuel. ~ Rep. Stanley B. Short Jr., D-Pittsfield
Letter: 600 new solar jobs in jeopardy
Kennebec Journal - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Today, the Legislature will consider whether to override the governor’s veto of L.D. 1649, the solar bill. This critical piece of legislation if passed will dramatically increase the number of solar installations and grow our base of jobs here in Maine by up to 600. The governor based his veto decision on an old, worn-out myth that electric ratepayers end up paying for solar expansion. This is simply not accurate. Private individuals pay for and install solar panels. Solar installations actually cut down on the amount of infrastructure that utility companies have to install thus saving ratepayers money. ~ Chuck Piper, owner, Sundog Solar, Searsport
Letter: Solar power not the answer
Sun Journal - Friday, April 29, 2016 

I support Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the poor solar power legislation. Maine recently announced it has risen to 21st among states when it comes to solar capacity per capita (watts/person). Nevada is No. 1 at 429 watts/person. Las Vegas raised electric rates to subsidize and fund solar panels and legislated attractive net metering programs to encourage development. There are a lot of unhappy customers in Nevada now. Upon realizing solar customers didn’t pay to maintain the power grid and everyone else pays for the lucrative subsidies to the solar users, Nevada officials cancelled the program. To be competitive, Maine needs lower, not higher, electric rates. ~ Michael Brakey, New Gloucester
Letter: To expand benefits of solar, reverse the governor’s veto
Portland Press Herald - Friday, April 29, 2016 

As president of the Wardtown Mobile Home Cooperative, I want to express my support for L.D. 1649, the comprehensive solar policy. The park, a nonprofit co-op of 60 mobile home owners, has the land and the means to own and maintain solar infrastructure by ourselves. More importantly, we have the need for cheaper solar power and have the desire to convert this park to solar, but we simply can’t do it unless L.D. 1649 is passed. Solar is for all income brackets now, not just the wealthy. ~ Dale E. Whitmore
Letter: LePage’s war on solar
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

Our governor has vetoed the solar bill. The cost of solar continues to drop while the cost of climate change inaction continues to rise. LD 1649 moves us in the right direction. Lawmakers should not give up on this important legislation. The technology in solar energy and energy storage will continue to advance and become more efficient. I expect solar prices to continue to fall as private sector competition is expanded. But this bill isn’t just about getting lower energy costs for the people of Maine or creating jobs; it also and more importantly is about helping reverse the destructive effects of heavy carbon emissions on our planet. The people of Maine in the next election need to vote for candidates who put Maine’s future ahead of special interests. ~ Fred Egan, York Harbor
Letter: Solar energy supports good jobs
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

As a seventh-generation Mainer, I have always been proud to call Maine home. My husband and I feel fortunate to live in our home state, raising our son, enjoying the beauty and natural resources Maine has to offer. We are able to stay here because we both found jobs working in renewable energy. Through our employment we are earning the middle-class wages and benefits our parents and grandparents worked hard to secure, an inheritance being realized by fewer Mainers. I am hopeful the solar energy bill, LD 1649, which has successfully passed through our Legislature, will make it into law, and I thank those representatives who voted to support Maine’s energy future. ~ Jennifer Albee, Brooks
Letter: Addressing food insecurity
Bangor Daily News - Friday, April 29, 2016 

I want to thank the legislators who voted in favor of LD 1471, "Resolve, To Facilitate the Distribution of Food Harvested in Maine to Residents with Food Insecurity." Maine has one of the highest food insecure populations in the country, with nearly 24% of children and 23% of older adults not having access to enough food to meet minimum nutritional standards. This is compounded by a significant amount of Maine’s food-insecure population exceeding income requirements to qualify for public assistance. These Mainers must rely on charitable organizations for support in securing adequate food. This bill will fund and select an agency to oversee the process of buying, processing, storing and transporting Maine-produced food products over the next two years to address this gap in services. ~ Sean Raymond, Hallowell
The Gulf of Maine is changing color. What does that mean?
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

Increased volumes of tea-colored water flowing down rivers into the Gulf of Maine are having an effect on the gulf that could lead to a reduction in its biological productivity, according to marine scientists. In other words, as higher volumes of rain fall on Maine, the more the amount of fish found along its coast is expected to decline. Working with scientists at U.S. Geological Survey, researchers at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay recently published a paper that indicates the level of biological reproduction in the Gulf of Maine has decreased. The reason is an increase over the past 80 years in rainfall and the resulting dissolved organic carbon — a dark “tea” steeped from dead leaves and soil, lab officials said — that flows into the gulf, which is interfering with the ability of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton to grow.
State appeals ruling over whether tribe owns water in Penobscot
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

The state is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that found the Penobscot Indian Nation’s reservation includes the islands on the main stem of the Penobscot River but not the water itself. The state is appealing U.S. District Judge George Singal’s decision to allow the Justice Department to intervene on the tribe’s behalf, according to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. She said late Thursday in an email that the state appealed because it questions “whether the federal government violated a 1980 law that prohibits it from suing the state.” Singal also held that the tribe’s sustenance fishing rights include the waters of the Main Stem, bank to bank, but for the purposes of sustenance hunting and trapping, the reservation is confined to island surfaces only.
Emissions from Westbrook power plant coat 300 cars in Idexx parking lot
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

One cleanup has led to another – and a bill of over $300,000 – for the Calpine power plant in Westbrook. Maintenance work done there this month resulted in rust spewing from the plant’s exhaust stacks and mixing with rain, creating a residue that coated about 300 cars in an employee parking lot at nearby Idexx Laboratories.
Portland poised to form task force to study pesticide restrictions
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

A Portland City Council committee wants to create a task force to consider possible restrictions on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on public and private land in the city. The council’s Energy and Sustainability Committee voted in favor of creating a 12-member task force that would include landscapers, anti-pesticide advocates, academics and residents. The proposal comes as South Portland is considering a ban on most synthetic lawn and garden pesticide use on public and private property. Twenty-six Maine communities, including Ogunquit, Brunswick, Rockland, Wells, Lebanon and Waterboro, have pesticide-control ordinances.
PUC Considering Proposals to Expand Natural Gas in Maine
Maine Public Broadcasting Network - Thursday, April 28, 2016 

Maine’s top utility regulators are considering a proposal to increase the region’s gas pipeline capacity — and who would pay for it. Natural gas powers half of the region’s electricity plants, and three years ago rising natural gas prices and constricted supplies drove wintertime electricity prices to surprising highs. That drove the Legislature to direct the Public Utilities Commission to study whether Mainers could benefit if the state secured long-term contracts for gas supply. Backers say that could benefit consumers in the long run by decreasing the cost of electricity from gas-fired power plants. But detractors say that natural gas prices have cratered since the high of three years ago, and demand has leveled off as well, showing that regulatory intervention could be risky for consumers.
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News Feeds

Natural Resources Council
of Maine

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Overriding This LePage Veto Will Put Solar Within Reach for More Mainers

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Lawmakers, LePage Fail to Reach Compromise on Solar Bill

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LePage Vetoes Solar Energy Bill After Compromise Talks Fail

Advocates will push for an override vote Friday in the Legislature. By Tux Turkel, Staff Writer Portland Pr...

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