Regulatory Reform May Affect Lake Protections
The LePage administration has recently published a starter list of suggested reforms to Maine's environmental rules and regulations in the interest of improving the State's business climate. The administration's "Phase 1 List" was sent to a legislative committee on January 25, http://www.maine.gov/legis/opla/phase1gov.pdf Several of the Phase1 proposals could affect laws and regulations that protect lake quality. Two examples
- Conform Maine statutory and regulatory standards to federally required standards.
- Review the Site Location of Development Act and the Natural Resources Protection Act to modify the applicability thresholds.
The complete list of proposals will come before a Select Committee of the Legislature on February 14, 2011, when it takes up LD 1, An Act to Ensure Regulatory Fairness and Reform. The committee, a non-standing (or temporary) panel, is tasked with carrying out the Governor's campaign promise to remove "red tape" barriers to business growth.
The science-based framework of laws and regulations now protecting Maine lakes has been put in place with bipartisan support in a careful and deliberate process spanning decades. That this framework is now under scrutiny is concerning, but review need not necessarily cause changes that threaten lake quality. Nevertheless, the lake community must stay informed and be prepared to speak out against rollbacks to lake protection.
So long as Maine's Phosphorus control methodology, Minimum Shoreland Zone Regulations, thresholds for Site Location of Development and Natural Resources Protection Acts are maintained, a review which improves clarity and consistency could also improve compliance and assist enforcement.