CONTRIBUTORS

LePage’s environmental report card a disappointment and opportunity

Posted Oct. 23, 2012, at 1:54 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 24, 2012, at 9:20 a.m.

Maine Conservation Voters is a nonpartisan organization that works to turn your love of the state’s natural resources into the laws that protect them. We know that Maine’s environment is the keystone of the health and well-being of our communities and our economy. Our goal is to give you the information and tools you need to make important decisions for your family, community and future.

MCV uses the democratic process and sharp accountability tools to transform Maine’s environmental values into legislative priorities, and to make sure that our quality of life is protected by our decisions at the ballot box.

One of our accountability tools is a biennial Governor’s Report Card.

Sadly, at the midpoint of his four-year term, Gov. Paul LePage’s record of environmental policymaking has been a tremendous disappointment. LePage has put Maine’s natural resources and the long-term economic interests of the state at risk.

That’s why MCV gave LePage a “D.”

Ouch. We know that hurts. But it’s deserved. Here’s why:

LePage opposed expansions to the e-waste recycling law, even though it has saved taxpayers more than $9.6 million and prevented more than 3.3 million pounds of lead and other toxic materials from entering our air and water.

• LePage sought to abolish the Kid-Safe Products Act, which limits our children’s exposure to toxic chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), despite a University of Maine study showing that such exposure costs at least $380 million in health costs annually in the state.

• The governor has declined to support Maine’s energy efficiency programs, despite the fact that every $1 invested in energy efficiency saves at least $3 in energy costs. As a result, Maine businesses and households will spend more money on energy and have less money available to purchase goods and services that would help grow our economy.

• LePage refused to issue bonds passed by voters in 2009 that would help municipalities replace septic systems, upgrade wastewater treatment facilities and remove overboard discharge systems — all of which have a direct impact on water quality and human health.

And the list goes on. In fact, the governor’s original “regulatory reform” agenda contained more than 60 provisions to weaken or eliminate important environmental laws that were forged during years of bipartisan collaboration, a hallmark of Maine’s political system.

Why? Despite claims that his list of “regulatory reform” rollbacks was generated from community feedback, LePage’s draft proposal included an internal tracking number used by a law firm that lobbies for pharmaceutical companies, oil dealers and chemical manufacturers that stand to benefit from weaker environmental laws.

Under LePage’s “reform” agenda, Maine isn’t just open for business, it has become available to the highest bidder from away.

That’s why MCV gave LePage a “D”. While we appreciate some positive outcomes in the areas of land conservation, fisheries management and enforcement of existing environmental laws, his comprehensive assault on the state’s environment flies in the face of Maine values and undermines the long-term sustainability of our economy.

In the next two years, we encourage the governor to shift to a more productive policy agenda. We recommend investing in the Land for Maine’s Future program, lowering energy costs through energy efficiency, improving the health of our waters and restoring key forage fish, making children’s products safer by phasing out dangerous chemicals, and building local economies through the Farm-and-Fish-to-School program.

The door is open.

LePage has dismissed his grade and MCV’s suggestions by proclaiming that it “is known to be a politically motivated group.”

Actually, MCV could care less if our political leaders are Democrat or Republican, Green or independent. What we do care about is clean air, clean water, abundant wildlife and a healthy future for our families. We’re fighting for the Maine that you love, for “the way life should be.”

Are we political when it comes to the environment? You bet we are.

Leslie Harroun is the board president of Maine Conservation Voters.

Similar articles:

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business