NRCM newsletter features lots of important issues and news

The new emailed newsletter of the Natural Resources Council of Maine contains an impressive and important amount of news, both good and bad. I want to share this with you today. Here it is.


It’s spring in Maine, so we’re still digging into our work at the State House. Though we see some encouraging signs, the fate of NRCM’s priority legislation is still not known. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior (DOI), urged by Governor LePage, has decided to review whether our new National Monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters, was created with sufficient public input. Amazing, considering the outpouring of public support, including in the Katahdin region, even at hearings hosted by opponents of the Monument! See below for action we must again ask you to take.

We also encourage you to welcome spring with an NRCM t-shirt, a great way to enjoy the warming weather while showing your support for NRCM. You are an essential part of our team. As a thank you, we’d also like to remind you that your discount awaits you at a variety of Maine sporting camps. They offer paddling, fishing, wildlife watching, and more, available to NRCM members at a special discounted price. Plan your summer vacation now by requesting your sporting camp voucher here.

Thank you for your support, especially during this tough legislative session, and in the weeks ahead. We couldn’t do it without you!

Allison Wells, Senior Director, Public Affairs
Beth Dimond Comeau, Public Affairs and eCommunications Manager



Defend Katahdin Woods and WatersThe Trump Administration is threatening to overturn Maine’s new National Monument. At the request of Governor LePage, the Department of the Interior (DOI) included Katahdin Woods & Waters on a list of 27 monuments to be “reviewed,” and is seeking public comments. Depending on the outcome, Interior Secretary Zinke could recommend that Maine’s Monument be changed, or even abolished. We can’t let this happen! Help us flood Washington, DC, with comments here.
Adding “Nips” to Bottle Bill (Nearly there) The bill to add nips to Maine’s bottle bill (for LD 56) soared through the House 111-34; and the Senate 32-3! But, despite this overwhelming, bipartisan support  the governor announced that he’ll veto the bill, so there will be another vote soon, and we’ll need to hold onto at least 2/3 majority votes in both chambers. Nips are a major source of roadside litter with more than 8 million sold last year and 17 million expected in 2018. We’re working to keep legislators from switching their votes.
As Mainers Rally for Solar, Energy Committee Begins Working Bills (In progress)The Committee has begun to work on three solar bills. NRCM strongly supports LD 1373and was part of a big State House rally ahead of its public hearing on May 4. First up, Committee members need to understand the disastrous new PUC rule on net metering, which will take effect at the end of 2017, unless the Legislature acts. We know that the unnecessarily complex anti-solar rule will raise electricity rates, costing ratepayers nearly $5 million! And, the rule also imposes an unprecedented new “delivery” fee on the power solar customers generate and consume right in their own home or business. NRCM wants the Legislature to take action now to block this terrible rule, and also take some steps to expand access to solar, including community solar.
Good News for Electric Vehicles This Session The Energy Committee unanimously passed LD 1062, a bill NRCM supported regarding the use of settlement funds Maine is receiving from Volkswagen for its car emissions fraud. The bill directs the State to use the maximum amount allowed for electric vehicles, including for a grant program for EV charging stations. Meanwhile the Transportation Committee unanimously voted against a bill (LD 1226) that NRCM and others strongly opposed, which would have levied new taxes on hybrids and electric vehicles. Unfortunately, the Committee decided to consider a similar bill in 2018, so the issue will come back.
Mining Bill Moves Forward LD 820, “An Act to Protect Maine’s Clean Water and Taxpayers from Mining Pollution,” passed with strong, bipartisan majorities in initial votes in both the House and Senate. This puts Maine very close to having a sensible, bipartisan mining law that will protect our environment and allow responsible mining. There will be further votes on LD 820 in both the House and Senate.
Bad Pesticides Bill Defeated Maine’s democratic tradition of “Home Rule” was again upheld earlier this month when the State and Local Government Committee unanimously voted ought-not-to-pass on LD 1505, a bill written and pushed by out-of-state groups likeALEC and RISENRCM’s testimony provides a brief history of the pesticide industry’s multi-decade effort to take away the rights of Maine municipalities to pass local ordinancesregulating pesticides.
Full FY18 Administration Budget Yesterday, the Trump Administration released its detailed budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018. The proposal slashes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that reduce pollution in Maine, save the lives of Maine people, and strengthen our communities and economy. The proposal singles out EPA for the deepest cuts of any federal agency, reducing funding to levels not seen in 40 years, eliminating essentially all EPA work to address climate change, and terminating more than 50 programs. We are working to defeat these draconian cuts. Take action today and sign our petition urging Maine’s Congressional delegation to protect EPA’s budget which helps keep Maine’s air and water clean.
U.S. Senate Protects Methane Rules With the help of Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, the Senate defeated (51-48) a bill that sought to overturn rules that help protect our climate by reducing harmful methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on federal lands. This was an important vote to protect rules enacted by the Obama Administration to prevent 180,000 tons of methane from being released annually into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent and dangerous climate-changing pollutant.
Support for Paris Climate Agreement Businesses, lawmakers, and nations around the world are urging the Trump Administration to remain in the historic Paris Climate Agreement. Among the strong communications are a letter from Senator Susan Collins and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), an open letter from more than 360 companies, a letter from some of the largest U.S. companies, and a letter from the CEO’s of 30 major U.S. companies. The recent announcement that the White House is postponing a decision about the Paris Agreement suggests that these communications may be having an impact.    


Sporting Camps Discount for NRCM Members Summer is on its way! Take advantage of NRCM’s member discount at participating Maine sporting camps. See the list of camps, then contact us for your savings voucher. Not an NRCM member?Join today—you’re immediately eligible for sporting camp savings! Thanks to all of the sporting camps that partner with us to offer this generous discount – including two new camps this year: Bradford Camps on Munsungan Lake and Portage Lakeside Cabins on Portage Lake.
Executive Director’s Corner
Lisa joined former U.S. Congressman Tom Allen, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Senior VP of Advocacy Paul Billings from the American Lung Association, and moderator Susan Sharon from Maine Public for a panel discussion on Society, Environment, and our Common Future in celebration of Earth Day, sponsored by the Muskie School at the University of Southern Maine. “We had a great discussion about current environmental issues like the proposed budget cuts to the EPA, the rollback of the Clean Power Plan, and threats to our new National Monument,” said Lisa. “And we shared our hopes for the future. I’m always pleased to be invited by my alma mater, the Muskie School, to share our experiences at NRCM.”
Upcoming Events:

Thursday, June 8: The Threat to Maine from the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environment Agenda, Damariscotta Please join NRCM Senior Director of Advocacy Pete Didisheim for a presentation about threats to the EPA and what we can do to fight back. Pete will discuss NRCM’s recent report, Damaging Maine:  The Impacts of Proposed Cuts to the EPA Budget. He also will discuss other policy rollbacks of concern. 7:00 p.m., Friends Meetinghouse in Damariscotta. Sponsored by Lincoln County Indivisible. FMI click here.

Resist! The Skills to Fight Back for Maine’s Environment It’s time to resist and rise up together to fight the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle the federal laws and agencies that protect the health of our people and our planet. Please join NRCM and our partners at one of two upcoming events to learn about the threats we face and hone the advocacy skills we’ll need to fight back.

·  Thursday, June 15 in Farmington

·  Thursday, June 22 in Brunswick


Raffle Supports Clean Energy Thanks to everyone who entered NRCM’s raffle for an ELF solar hybrid vehicle, generously donated by Maggie Warren and David Wood. Thanks also to Bo Jespersen of The Breathable Home and Matt Damon of Penobscot Home Performance for their donations of energy audits valued at $400. The winner is…Robyn Deveney! She reports that she looks forward to riding the ELF on her camp road in central Maine. Donna Wheeler will benefit from an energy audit.


Aveda #Selfie Contest Thanks to everyone who sent in or posted their #AvedaNRCM selfies during Aveda Earth Month. Allison Bubier is this year’s winner of two tickets on a Hardy Boat cruise of her choice for sending in a pic at the Apollo Salon & Spa in Waterville, one of more than a dozen salons that partnered with us this year in support of our clean water work.
Bylines and Blogs

Stay informed and entertained with our picks for this month’s must-reads:

Bangor Daily News:
Mining Rule Compromise Sailing for Passage after Maine House Vote

Maine Public:
‘Everything Changed’ – Millinocket-area Businesses Tout Benefits of National Monument

Portland Press Herald:
Legislative Panel Unanimously Rejects Pesticides Bill Proposed by LePage

Bangor Daily News:
Trump’s Fight against Environmental Protection is a Threat to Maine’s Economy and Health

Portland Press Herald:
LePage Threatens to Veto Deposit on “Nips,” Remove Them from Maine Stores

Engaging Students in the Nature of Maine:
The Future is All About the Kids – NRCM donors Alix and Mark Morin travelled to schools on Deer Isle and in Northport to see how students are progressing with their grant projects. The students’ and teachers’ enthusiasm for these hands-on learning projects was evident! It helps teach students about the importance of Maine’s environment so they can protect it now, and in the future.

Green Tip of the Month: “Bee” a Better Gardener Bees are essential for pollinating our fruits and veggies yet are showing drastic population declines. Help bee populations by avoiding pesticides and planting a garden that blooms from early spring into the fall.


Staff Pick

NRCM’s data entry assistant Khyati Bhatt said, “Last summer we traveled more than an hour and a half to Screw Auger Falls in Grafton Notch State Park. It was the most amazing and unforgettable nature trip we ever had. The 25-foot plunge over the lip of a broad, granite ledge into a gorge was one of the Maine wonders to watch. The best part of this fall is that it creates a transparent curtain of whitewater by the plunge. Below the main plunge, the Bear River travels through a curvaceous gorge, dropping an additional 30 feet. Below, one can see the giant potholes, shallow pools, and grottos. On a hot weekend day in July, we were accompanied by about a hundred others to watch this beautiful view. We explored sunny ledges and sunbathing spots above and below the gorge. Wooden fencing marks the gorge walls, with stone steps to an upper wading area.
As we walked along the gorge to the best viewpoint of the waterfall, historical information boards added to the fun experience. Here we learned about settlers in the 1800s who built a saw mill directly over the falls in the 1850s. The mill was run by the power of the current and produced lumber until it burned in the 1860s. We also had the opportunity to learn about how the falls were initially formed. As glaciers began to melt thousands of years ago, excessive amounts of water flowed into the Bear River, carrying rocks and sand along with the current. The consistent abrasion of these sediments smoothed away the gorge walls to create potholes that are still visible today from the gorge above.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.