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News Items
Letter: Pro-fossil fuel policies
Bangor Daily News - Friday, December 14, 2018 

The agenda of the Trump administration with respect to the coal industry is easily the most counterproductive feather in the cap of his energy and climate policy alongside his refusal to work with U.S. allies on the Paris Climate Accord. The decision to nominate Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is another futile attempt to save the drowning coal industry that is no longer price competitive with natural gas, solar and wind generated electricity. His appointment is a loss in the short term for the fight against climate change and for sensible, fact-based regulation and public policy formulation. ~ Matt Gonya, South Berwick
Farm bill includes benefits for Maine
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

A massive, multi-year farm bill headed to President Trump’s desk contains provisions that could benefit Maine’s growing agricultural sector:
* Up to $50 million in dedicated annual funding for organic farming research.
* Up to $350 million per year (compared to $25 million annually in the current farm bill) to help deploy high-speed, broadband internet services in rural areas.
* Creation of a “Next Generation in Agriculture” program to assist young or beginning farmers, which could help in Maine where the number of farms and young farmers is growing.
* $80 million per year in grants to support farmers’ markets, farm-to-retail marketing, agritourism and other programs.
* Legalize the production of hemp nationwide. While hemp production is already legal in Maine, hemp farmers still faced federal restrictions on sales, transportation, marketing, banking and other issues.
* Additional support for research and development of “cross-laminated timber” and other engineered wood in construction.
Chinese firm to receive $12 million in Maine tax credits
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

The Finance Authority of Maine has approved $12 million in Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program tax credits for a Chinese paper company to restart pulp manufacturing operations inside the shuttered Old Town mill. The deal also includes additional financing for Nine Dragons Paper Ltd. for a total investment of $31.8 million, according to FAME. The tax credits will be awarded over the next seven years. In October, OTM Holdings sold the mill to ND Paper, which operates three pulp and paper mills in North America, including the former Catalyst paper mill in Rumford. ND Paper pledged to invest $111 million in the Rumford mill.
Off-trail snowmobilers advised to use courtesy, discretion
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Early snowfall and cold temperatures have set the stage for an influx of snowmobilers heading out onto Maine’s 14,500 miles of trails, but the Maine Snowmobile Association urges riders to respect the generosity of landowners while doing so. The state is seeing a sharp increase in off-trail riding, and while this activity is allowed unless prohibited by a specific landowner’s policy, the MSA said in a news release that riders should always consider themselves guests, and use common sense and courtesy as their core principles.
Lobsters still topped the nation in fishery value last year
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Despite a nationwide decline last year in the volume and value of American lobster landings, the fishery remains the most valuable single-species fishery in the country, according to a report released Thursday by federal regulators. More than $550 million worth of American lobster was caught in the United States last year, with $423 million of that total — more than three-quarters of the national harvest — brought ashore in Maine. Overall, Maine fishermen harvested $511 million dollars worth of seafood in 2017, putting the state third behind Alaska and Massachusetts.
Column: How a great black hawk became a Maine celebrity
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Not all who wander are lost. There is a great black hawk in Portland that has become quite famous — but only he knows if he left Mexico because our squirrels taste better. The big danger is that we treat celebrity birds like we treat celebrity people, surrounding them with paparazzi and interrupting public dining. Even if a bird seems unaffected by people, the admiring crowd can drive away its food. Fortunately for this hawk, gray squirrels in a downtown Portland park are not very shy of people. I do worry about a tropical hawk surviving a Maine winter, but on the other hand, we have a lot of squirrels. ~ Bob Duchesne
Hunter films rare albino porcupine waddling in the Maine woods
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

It was just before sundown on Dec. 6 when hunter Greg Strand heard a commotion nearby in the trees. Strand, who was out in the Windham woods, ducked out of sight to see what was moving among the trees. A large dark-colored porcupine was moving through the trees, and following close behind it was another porcupine — apparently albino — that blended in with the snow. “I knew it was special,” Strand said after he captured his encounter with the albino porcupine on video.
Building a Stronger Maine
Other - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Acadia Center recently convened businesses, advocates, community members, and policymakers for a lively forum exploring Maine’s pathways to increase stability and growth through a clean energy future. Presentation slides from the forum are available online.
Susan Collins casts deciding vote to repeal IRS donor disclosure rule
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

CQ-Roll Call - The Senate voted 50-49 to repeal a rule that shields donors to many nonprofit groups from disclosure to IRS officials. The dramatic vote was tied at 49-49, when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, cast the deciding vote. The resolution would repeal IRS guidance that would have allowed nonprofit organizations to omit names of major donors — those giving more than $5,000 — from disclosure statements, though they would still have to keep the information if the tax-collecting agency asked for it. Democrats said the issue was over how much so-called dark money will be allowed to influence elections. The measure still needs House approval.
Fake Christmas trees are increasingly popular. What does that mean for Maine tree farms?
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Surveys show that 75-81 percent of American households that have a Christmas tree will use an artificial tree and that Mainers spent an above-average amount of state GDP on artificial Christmas trees. But in Maine, real tree farms are doing fine. The USDA estimated there were about 387 Christmas tree farms in Maine totaling 5,694 acres in 2012, up from 307 farms totaling 4,349 acres in 2007. There is one troubling Christmas tree industry trend, though. “A lot of us who are getting older are selling our farms,” Joanne Bond, executive secretary of the Maine Christmas Tree Association, said. “It is hard to get help. We are hoping that more young people will get into it.”
Lobster exporters looking around the world for new markets to stem losses
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

The U.S. lobster industry is on the hunt for new consumers, pitching live lobster to Southeast Asia’s growing middle class and gourmet lobster rolls to Berlin foodies. American dealers are trying to offset market losses caused by unfavorable tariffs in China and Europe. Live lobster sales from the U.S. to China had been on pace to double in 2018 until China slapped a 25 percent tariff on lobster in July [in response to President Trump's trade war].
Editorial: Timeout from waterfront development is the best way forward
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

Sometimes doing nothing is the right move. Portland’s proposed six-month pause on waterfront development is a great example. If the temporary moratorium gives a wide range of competing interests a chance to work through a complex problem, it would be a big accomplishment. And it would also show other municipalities, and even the state, that there is a better way to resolve a tough issue than stiff-arming the critics, daring them to take their case to a referendum.
Letter: Thanks to special bipartisan group for introducing Carbon Dividend Act
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

I would like to simply state my gratitude to U.S. Rep. Theodore Deutch for introducing and three Republican and three Democratic representatives for co-sponsoring the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Amazing things can happen when we put politics aside and come together to look for solutions to problems! This bill promotes innovation, promotes job growth and will promote a cleaner environment – all good things! ~ Robert Thurm, Arundel
Letter: Bald Mountain may be in trouble
Morning Sentinel - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

The Trump administration has cancelled a crucial environmental assessment that could have protected the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Is Bald Mountain in Maine next? Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2009 to 2017, says, "Not only did the Trump administration go against their word to complete the Minnesota study, they ignored science, facts and public opinion. In other words, they lied.” This is the same kind of mining proposed for Bald Mountain by a company with no mining experience. And nothing prevents them from doing the same to our great state of Maine. ~ Robert Woodbury, Winslow
Letter: Company responds over its planned Maine salmon farm
Boston Globe - Thursday, December 13, 2018 

David Abel’s article “In Maine, progress has a catch” (Dec. 7), about the salmon farm we’ve proposed for Belfast, Maine, requires a response. The volume of waste water discharge is irrelevant; it’s the content. Nordic Aquafarms’ discharge will be about one-sixth the amount other permits allow. That’s why we have support from three prominent environmental groups: the Conservation Law Foundation, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Trees will be cleared from only about half of our 54-acre site. This land has been logged in the past. Three candidates in the Belfast City Council election ran as a slate against the project. All three lost decisively. ~ Erik Heim, President, Nordic Aquafarms, Portland, Maine
An Afternoon to Honor Nathaniel Reed
Natural Resources Council of Maine - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

Nathaniel Reed was a nationally known environmental champion who helped turn the Endangered Species Act into law and shepherded many other environmental laws while serving as an assistant secretary of the Department of Interior in the 1970s. He lived in and loved Florida, but also had a summer home in Winter Harbor and loved Maine as well. Nat served on the National Advisory Board of the Natural Resources Council of Maine for nearly 20 years. Nat caught his final salmon on July 3, at age 84. Right after landing that 16-pounder, he slipped and fell and never recovered. I traveled to Florida on December 8th to join hundreds of people who came to his memorial service. ~ Lisa Pohlmann
Town strategizes to improve alewife run
Mount Desert Islander - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

Local and state agencies are teaming up to figure out how to increase the alewife population in Seal Cove Pond. Collecting data to understand the best way to assist the anadromous species’ migration from the ocean, upstream into the pond is most important in 2019, according to Scott Craig who works in the Maine Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Despite a fishway ladder at the edge of the pond to assist their passage, the population in Seal Cove Pond has been low over the last couple of decades. Although some alewives are tenacious enough to reach the pond, the amount is not enough to sustain a healthy population.
Robert Bryan dies at 87
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

Robert “Bob” Bryan, half of the famed “Bert & I” Downeast Maine humor storytelling team that included the late Marshall Dodge, died Wednesday in Canada. He was 87. Bryan, who was a pastor, also was the founder of the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, based in Ispwich, Massachusetts. He started the organization in 1961 “to support the rural communities and environment of eastern Canada and New England, and to create models for stewardship and cultural heritage that can be applied worldwide.”
U.N. chief again appeals for compromise on climate
Associated Press - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

The United Nations secretary-general called on countries to make compromises in tackling global warming, amid concern that the U.N. conference on the issue could end without a substantial agreement. In his second dramatic appeal at the talks in Poland in the space of 10 days, Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior diplomats from almost 200 countries they should consider the fate of future generations. The U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are opposed to endorsing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Maine Regulators Partially Undo Controversial Solar Metering Rule
Maine Public - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

Last year, after several legislative attempts to reform the state's solar rules were stymied by Gov. Paul LePage, the Public Utilities Commission imposed a new way to measure the value of solar power called "gross metering." It required all electricity consumers to pay for extra metering equipment at new solar projects — even on power that was used on site and not sent to the grid. The cost of the new equipment for larger-scale solar generation plants far outweighed savings to consumers. The commission has exempted medium and large scale solar installations from the gross metering rule. New residential and small business solar projects are, for now, still subject to it. But it's expected that next year Gov.-elect Janet Mills and the new Legislature will attempt a complete overhaul of the state's solar rules.
South Berwick endorses York River designation, next step toward federal protection funds
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

Portsmouth Herald - South Berwick town councilors endorsed designation of the York River and its tributaries as a federal Partnership Wild and Scenic River at their Tuesday meeting. The York River Stewardship Committee can now move forward in working with members of Maine’s congressional delegation to achieve the scenic river status. The federal designation will enable towns bordering the river to access federal funding to protect and maintain the river and its watershed for recreation, fisheries, water quality preservation and similar purposes.
Senate passes 2018 Farm Bill, a victory for food sovereignty in Maine
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

The final version of the 2018 United States Farm Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate Tuesday. It contains some good news for food sovereignty in Maine after an amendment targeting local food control was removed from the 641-page document. The Farm Bill passed in the Senate 87-13. Both of Maine’s senators, independent Angus King and Republican Susan Collins, voted for the bill. “We are enormously happy that the toxic King Amendment did not make it into the final version of the Farm Bill that just passed in the Senate and seems sure to pass in the House,” said Betsey Gerrold, acting executive director of Food for Maine’s Future.
Why you may want to ditch your fancy snowshoes for wooden ones
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

To many Maine residents, bent wood frames and woven rawhide decking are not just a thing of the past. Crafted by a handful of businesses throughout the state, wooden snowshoes continue to be worn by a variety of outdoors-people who prefer their age-old designs and natural materials to more modern plastic and metal snowshoes. Maine was the center of snowshoe production in the Northeast from the 1850s to the 1940s. During that time, snowshoes were made by Maine Indians, as well as non-natives who adopted traditional Native American designs and construction techniques.
Native Fisheries Coalition has accomplished a lot
George Smith BDN Outdoor News Blog - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

In a short period of time the Native Fisheries Coalition has accomplished a great deal. Just a year after gaining it’s 501c3 status, the Coalition has become an important voice for our wild native fish and built a fantastic and very experienced team of board members and volunteers. NFC has worked hard to build an excellent website and social media presence. It includes a blog run by National Chair Ted Williams, an active Facebook page, and a great website.
Maine watchdogs keep close eye on Trump’s bid to change nuclear waste storage rules
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 

A new proposal by President Donald Trump’s administration to reclassify some high-level nuclear waste to reduce cleanup costs will not affect the 550 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored in more than 60 airtight steel canisters near the former Maine Yankee nuclear reactor in Wiscasset. The proposal focuses on waste generated by nuclear weapons, not power plants. But Mainers tasked with advocating for safe handling of atomic waste voiced concern that it could foretell changes that would affect the Maine Yankee waste.
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