Maine COLA does not get involved in elections, but their results can have enormous effects on the work we do. For the past two years, Maine COLA and friends have struggled to hold the line against massive rollbacks to environmental law, but November 6th, 2012, promises a new atmosphere in Augusta. Although we will miss Representatives Jane Eberle of South Portland and Bob Duschene of Hudson and Senator John Martin of Eagle Lake – all true friends Maine’s natural resources, the new Maine State Legislature will still include many more lawmakers who support environmental protection than did the last session. November 6th also brought good news for the Land for Maine’s Future Program. Voters turned out 61% to 39% to support a $5 million bond to extend open space and water access. Although the governor has promised to veto all bonds, we are counting on you to remind your legislators to override his veto.
It’s all about Land Use: mining, tar sands, pesticides
What happens on land ends up in the lake, and since lake watersheds comprise one half of Maine’s surface area, we keep our eyes focused on land use. While we don’t know much yet about specific initiatives, we are aware of several issues we’d like you to keep on your radar. Rulemaking to govern how metallic mining will be conducted in Maine is on the docket. A bill passed last session permits open pit mining, so a two-year process to set the ground rules for this extractive process will begin in 2013. The public has limited ability to intervene in rule making, but we will keep you informed about this vital issue and how to comment when the time comes later in 2013. Immediately, we are waiting to learn which outside contractor the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will appoint to head rulemaking.
A non-legislative issue we ask you to watch is Exxon’s plan to use an existing oil pipeline to transport shale oil from Canadian tar sands operations to Portland, Maine, from Ontario. The pipeline dates from World War II, and tar sands oil is highly corrosive. That alone is worrisome enough, but the pipeline crosses the Crooked River and wetlands several times. A leak could threaten Lake Sebago, the water supply for nearly half of Maine’s population. Alternative energy proponents point out that burning shale oil contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than normal crude.
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