Category Archives: Environment

A strong carbon cap is good for Maine’s environment and economy | Bangor Daily News

 Ten years ago last month, Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This historic, market-based initiative among nine states puts a limit on climate-changing carbon pollution from power plants. It has been a remarkable success by any measure. Now, the states are nearing the end of a periodic review of the program. Maine leaders at that table must work to strengthen the program to ensure it continues benefiting Maine’s environment, economy and energy consumers.

As two home energy improvement business owners, we care about the greenhouse gas initiative because the proceeds from it support energy efficiency initiatives through the Efficiency Maine Trust. It sets an annual cap on carbon dioxide emissions from large power plants in the North East. Power generators can buy and sell emission allowances at an annual auction under the program, and that revenue goes back to the states. Since the initiative’s inception, Maine has received $86 million from carbon auctions. A significant portion of that goes to programs helping Mainers invest in cost-effective weatherization and heating efficiency improvements for their homes.

That’s where companies like ours come in. We provide clear information to homeowners about opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and put those solutions to work in Maine homes every day.

Read more of this commentary by Matt Damon and Bo Jesperson.

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I’m a scientist and a Mainer. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration | The Washington Post via Bangor Daily News

By Joel Clement

I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up. A few days after my reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that the department would use reassignments as part of its effort to eliminate employees; the only reasonable inference from that testimony is that he expects people to quit in response to undesirable transfers. Some of my colleagues are being relocated across the country, at taxpayer expense, to serve in equally ill-fitting jobs.

Read more of this powerful commentary by Joel Clement.

As Feds Move Away From Climate Change, Maine and New England Consider Stronger CO2 Caps | Maine Public

While the federal government pulls back from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, the New England states are considering more aggressive curbs on power plant carbon emissions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a market-based cap-and-trade program that sets limits on carbon-dioxide emissions in nine states, including all of New England. Power generators can buy and sell emission allowances under the program — which can give a financial boost to cleaner sources such as wind or hydro plants. So far RGGI’s allowance auctions have raised more than $2.5 billion, with the proceeds flowing to the states, and most of them investing heavily in energy efficiency efforts.

“All the evidence points to the fact that RGGI’s working well, it’s been a great success since its inception,” says Peter Shattuck, director of the Clean Energy Initiative at the Acadia Center, an an environmental policy group with offices in Maine and around the northeast.

“[Since RGGI’s 2009 startup] carbon pollution is down 40 percent, electricity prices are down 3 percent, and at the same time [the participating] states’ economies have grown by 25 percent,” he says.

Read and listen to the rest of this story.

Here to There and Back: The AT | Maine Public

Here2There_logo.jpg

After an exhaustive search, we have selected two hikers who are taking on the Appalachian Trail this spring and summer to test our Maine Public App out in the fringes of civilization. Danny Moody of Winthrop and Dan Giguere of Manchester (ME) along with Danny’s dog Daisy are our first adventurers in our Here to There and Back project.

Read more about this project.

Appalachian Trail Hikers After 500 Miles: ‘We Feel Great,’ May 31, 2017

1,000 Miles In: Appalachian Trail Hikers Are Lighter, ‘Loving It,’ July 13, 2017

‘It’s going to take a lot of work’: Railway owner dreams of passenger service from Portland to Montreal | WGME via Bangor Daily News

FRYEBURG, Maine — Critics say it can’t be done, but if the owners of a proposed passenger train service are able to pull it off, it could bring hundreds of jobs and thousands of tourists to Maine. The last time the tracks in Fryeburg were used to carry passengers from Portland to Montreal, Canada, was in 1959. Now, 55 years later, plans are in the works to bring passenger train service back, linking Portland to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and to Montreal.

“I think this area needs that. I think the country needs that,” says Lisa Johnson of Chocorua, New Hampshire.

She’s already imagining how nice it would be to take a train to the Fryeburg Fair instead of fighting all that traffic.

“It’s a more relaxed way to travel,” she added. “You’re not fighting the traffic. You’re sitting back and relaxing, enjoying it.”

Better still, the president of Golden Eagle Railway says the new rail service would generate 200 full time jobs with benefits.

Read more here.

Hiking the Bold Coast on the Eastern Edge of Maine | The L.L. Bean Blog

Check this out:

Hiking the Bold Coast on the Eastern Edge of Maine | The L.L. Bean Blog

Photo of moose cow, calf wins Aroostook County Tourism contest | Bangor Daily News

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Paul Pierce of Mars Hill has been chosen as the overall winner of the Aroostook County Tourism summer photo contest for his picture of a moose cow and calf.

Other category winners include Tracey Ackerson of Woodland for the scenic views category, Johnnie Cancelarich of Presque Isle for outdoor recreation, Fred Grant of Houlton for cities and towns and Lori Prosser of Houlton for festivals and events.

All winning entries are available to view on the website at www.visitaroostook.com and the Aroostook County Tourism Facebook page.

Click to read more on the story in the Bangor Daily News on the photo contest.

Moose welcome to visit anytime | Bangor Daily News

Wouldn’t you know. A moose walks into my front yard and I can’t find my camera.

The little case is empty. Where did I put it?

I gaze at the huge animal munching on the leaves of the apple trees outside my kitchen window. I guess I will just have to enjoy watching it.

No. I will use my big single-lens reflex camera that has been idle so long the battery is probably dead. I fish the camera out of its bag and turn it on.

“No card.”

I dig a memory card out of the bag, plug it in and move to the dining room window for a better view. The moose slides her mouth along one branch after the other, munching on the leaves that don’t fall to the ground.

Click to read more of this commentary by Kathryn Olmstead, former University of Maine associate dean and associate professor of journalism living in Aroostook County, published in The Bangor Daily News.

Half a foot of snow expected in Maine this weekend | Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — A weekend storm could bring plenty of chills to the state this Halloween weekend, as the National Weather Service said Friday that more than six inches of snow is expected in many parts of Maine.

A winter storm watch has been posted throughout the state, according to Mal Walker of the National Weather Service in Caribou.

The advisory calls for 4-8 inches of snow in Penobscot, Hancock and Washington counties and includes Greater Bangor, Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island, Machias and Eastport. The advisory notes heavy, wet snow and 15-25 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph will create hazardous traveling conditions.

Click to read more of this story in the Bangor Daily News.

 

Women find niche in woodsman’s competition | Bangor Daily News

FRYEBURG, Maine — Laurette Russell decided after showing horses for 20 years, she needed something else to fuel her competitive fire. So she started entering woodsman’s competitions.

“Throwing an axe at a bull’s-eye and chopping a piece of wood is very satisfying,” said Russell of New Gloucester. “There’s no cookie-cutter type of person to do it. It’s not like when you’re an ice skater, you’re a tiny little ballerina. Anyone of any size, of any age, can do this sport.”

Russell was one of 39 women in a field of 193 people at this year’s Woodsman’s Field Day held at Fryeburg Fair. The daylong event attracted more than 6,000 spectators.

Click to read the rest of the story and see photos by Robert F. Bukaty  in the Bangor Daily News.

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

25 things to do this fall — festivals, foliage and fun | Bangor Daily News

As you bid goodbye to summer — so long flip flops, air conditioner and iced beverages on the patio — you say hello to an even more fleetingly beautiful part of the year. The crispness in the air arrived last week, and the leaves have just barely begun to change color.

Summer may look pretty fantastic after four months of winter, but autumn feels just lovely after four months of summer. Enjoy it while you can by trying any of the 25 things to do this fall that we’ve assembled for you.

Click for more on the story by Emily Burnham in the Bangor Daily News.

Will write for food! … Or walk your dog!

Hey there! Hey there! I’m still trying to line up a freelance gig or two for the coming weeks. Please let me know if you are in need or know someone in need of a writer-editor-blogger-dog walker-house-sitter-dishwasher. Cheers!

Keep your eyes to the ground

I re-learned a lesson over the weekend – when hiking in Northern California in warmer weather, it’s always good to keep your eyes to the ground around you.

I was hiking with a friend in Lagoon Valley Regional Park south of Vacaville just off Interstate 80 and we had climbed the hill overlooking the park and the freeway. We followed a trail on the ridge to a marker there remembering early settlers of the area.

We had just moved beyond the marker and were on the ridge trail as I gazed at a vulture gliding on the warm air above the park. As I turned to resume the hike, I glanced down and very nearly stepped on a fairly young rattlesnake – just four or five rattles and perhaps 16 inches long. They say the venom from younger snakes is more potent than that of older snakes, but I had no intension of finding out.

I just barely kept from stepping forward – and onto the snake – and was able to step back to give it a bit more room. It glided across the trail and into the tall grass on the other side.

It was the first time my friend had seen a rattlesnake in the wild and it startled her a bit. And the last time I had seen one in the wild was while firefighting during my college years; it was a threat to my crew and the snake was dispatched with the sharpened end of a shovel.

We continued the hike, warning another group of hikers that we had seen a rattlesnake and that they should keep a sharp eye out. Well, we warned them and then let them walk on the trial in front of us. … Hey, we warned ’em.

Lagoon Valley Regional Park is a lovely multi-use green area between Vacaville and Fairfield along Interstate 80. There is hiking, running, biking, picnicking, birding, archery, model aircrafts, fishing and more. It is not far from the Pena Adobe, the restored home of one of the founding settlers.

And the rattlesnake was not the only bit of wildlife we spotted along the rest of the hike – birds, horses, turtles and a beaver. Actually, the beaver had succumbed to some illness or attacker so wildlife is not exactly accurate.

But it was a very lovely day, despite the startling encounter with the rattlesnake. And a lesson learned. Again.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Ocean energy conference asks: Why not Maine? | Portland Press Herald

Ocean energy conference asks: Why not Maine?

Some place will be the home base

of a new energy industry, it could be Maine

Ken Fletcher, the director of Maine’s state energy office, got a chance last week to back away from some earlier statements about the future of offshore wind power.

Fletcher had been quoted expressing skepticism about the LePage administration’s interest in a power source that would be more expensive than the above-average prices Mainers pay already. But Fletcher was reacting to a price target from a demonstration project, not the full-scale offshore wind farm that would be built only if the demonstration were a success. That development is projected to produce competitively priced power by the end of the decade.

Such a negative message coming from the governor’s top energy adviser, on the eve of a national ocean energy conference in Portland, could have been disruptive to an industry that is on the verge of viability after a long period of slow incubation.

Fortunately, Fletcher attended the conference, took part in a panel discussion and moderated his earlier comments. He also made a good point that is worth repeating: It’s not just about the power that you buy.

“The real opportunity we see is though our R&D, manufacturing and assembly,” Fletcher said.

Click to read more of the editorial in the Portland Press Herald.

Environmental coalition praises, criticizes lawmakers | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Environmental coalition praises, criticizes lawmakers | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Friends of Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge putting on annual fishing derby | Aroostook Republican and News via The Bangor Daily News

Friends of Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge putting on annual fishing derby | Aroostook Republican and News via The Bangor Daily News

Expedition full of surprises for College of the Atlantic senior | Bangor Daily News

Expedition full of surprises for College of the Atlantic senior | Bangor Daily News

Poll on Maine governor: National spotlight a glaring concern | Maine Sunday Telegram

Most Maine voters are unhappy

with the job Paul LePage

has done so far as governor

AUGUSTA – Most Maine voters think the national media attention that Gov. Paul LePage has drawn in his first four months in office has been bad for the state – including many people who support the work he has done.

And most believe he made the wrong decision in taking down a mural depicting Maine workers in the headquarters of the Department of Labor.

That’s according to a poll commissioned by MaineToday Media to assess how Mainers feel about the job the Republican governor has done since his inauguration on Jan. 5. LePage was elected in November with about 38 percent of the vote.

The poll was conducted from April 25 to May 2 by Pan Atlantic SMS Group, a Portland-based firm owned by Patrick and Victoria Murphy. Victoria Murphy is a former Maine Democratic Party chair. The firm does independent marketing and research.

About 56 percent of the respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of LePage; about 39 percent said they have a favorable opinion of him. About 5 percent said they do not know.

Click for the rest of the story by Rebekah Metzler in The Maine Sunday Telegram.

Maine Sunday Telegram’s view: LePage won’t get vote of confidence from this poll

 When Ed Koch was mayor of New York, he used to walk around the city asking constituents: “How’m I doin’?” We haven’t heard Gov. LePage ask that question in Maine, but we’ve decided to answer it anyway.

According to a poll commissioned by MaineToday Media, LePage is getting mixed reviews from Mainers but a majority of those polled, 56 percent, said they had an unfavorable opinion of the governor. Asked to rate LePage’s job performance, about 55 percent answered “poor” or “very poor.”

Given those basic numbers – detailed poll results are published in today’s paper – the most likely answer to the question, “How’s the governor doin’?” seems to be: “Not so good.”

When more than half the people who look to the governor for leadership don’t like what they see, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he’s doing something wrong.

Click for the rest of the editorial in The Maine Sunday Telegram.

Huge surge in offshore wind expected | SustainableBusiness.com

Huge surge in offshore wind expected | SustainableBusiness.com