I am compelled to respond to a recent column questioning Sierra Club’s endorsement for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the gubernatorial race.
As the volunteer chair of the Sierra Club Maine Political Team, I speak for the more than 12,000 club members and supporters in Maine who strongly believe that we need a champion for the environment in the Blaine House.
We made our decision to endorse Michaud after carefully reviewing the candidates’ environmental positions, evaluating their questionnaire answers and conducting in-person interviews with Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler. (Gov. Paul LePage did not respond to our questionnaire or invitation for an interview.)
Michaud has a very strong pro-environmental voting record, and he shares Mainers’ conservation values. Unlike the current governor, he understands that protecting our precious environment and public health is critical to Maine’s identity and economic vitality.
We believe that Michaud’s valuable experience as a state and federal legislator, and his deeply felt desire to serve the public interest, make him the best candidate to restore leadership in protecting our environment and transitioning to a more prosperous, clean-energy economy.
As a former state representative, I especially appreciate Michaud’s ability to work with both parties on environmental issues while he served in the Maine Legislature. He led the fight and worked in Augusta to pass historic river cleanup standards, the state’s first comprehensive solid waste bill, smart growth land use planning and policies to reduce toxics and protect Maine’s forests. During his time in the Legislature, Michaud served as member and chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In Congress, Michaud’s conservation record has been stellar, with numerous votes in support of renewable energy and green jobs, and stronger federal standards for automobile pollution, water protection, energy efficiency, mercury toxics and carbon pollution to protect our climate. He has consistently voted for more weatherization funding for Mainers to reduce heating oil dependence, as well as for ending taxpayer subsidies for oil companies. Michaud is also the sponsor of the ” Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act,” which designates 13 islands as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Michaud’s lifetime congressional environmental voting record is among the best in the House of Representatives. The national League of Conservation Voters gives him a 92 percent pro-environment score; for comparison, Rep. Chellie Pingree received a 94 percent score.
Michaud’s policy positions are also right on the highest profile state environmental issues, including his clear opposition to the proposed east-west highway corridor and the possible plan to pump dangerous tar sands oil through Maine to Casco Bay.
His pro-environmental record is in stark contrast to the LePage administration’s unprecedented assault on our state’s environmental laws and policies. This is in part why a majority of Maine residents want to elect a new governor this November, a leader who will put Maine families’ health, safety and environment first.
The Sierra Club is confident that Michaud is that leader.
Melissa Walsh Innes represented Yarmouth in the Maine Legislature where she served on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. She is the deputy director of Recycling Reinvented, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing recycling rates in the United States.