May 25, 2018
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Environmental group names Scarborough lawmaker to national list of ‘Dirty Dozen’

Heather Sirocki
By Matthew Stone, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — The League of Conservation Voters on Tuesday named a Scarborough lawmaker to its nationwide “Dirty Dozen” list of state-level candidates with voting records the league called some of the “most anti-environmental” in the United States.

Rep. Heather Sirocki, a Republican, is the first Maine lawmaker to make the list, a result of her 0 percent score on the recently released legislator scorecard of Maine Conservation Voters, the League of Conservation Voters’ Maine affiliate. This is the second time the League of Conservation Voters has assembled a state-level “Dirty Dozen” list; the group last put one together in 2010.

Sirocki and one other House colleague, Republican Rep. Beth O’Connor of Berwick, voted against Maine Conservation Voters positions on all 10 of the bills the group used to develop its scorecard rankings. It’s the first time since 2006 that any legislator has scored zero on the rating for a full two-year term, said Maureen Drouin, executive director of Maine Conservation Voters.

“It’s pretty remarkable that this legislator didn’t vote for the environment one time,” Drouin said. “As they were looking across the country, Heather Sirocki really stood out because of Maine, but also because of her district, which really values its natural resources.”

The conservation group based its legislator ratings on how they voted on 10 bills taken up by lawmakers over the past two years, including:

• A ban of the chemical bisphenol-A in certain children’s products, which the league supported and lawmakers passed;

• A bond issue to fund Land for Maine’s Future — a state program that purchases land parcels to set aside for conservation, forestry and recreation — that passed the Legislature and will go to voters this fall;

• A law, opposed by Maine Conservation Voters and passed by the Legislature, that loosened restrictions on open-pit mining; and

• Legislation, supported by Maine Conservation Voters and passed by lawmakers, approving new rules that keep protections in place for wetlands that are crucial habitats for certain species of birds and waterfowl.

“It’s really hard to get a zero on our scorecard,” Drouin said.

Sirocki, in an email, called the “Dirty Dozen” list a “publicity stunt” that discounted legislative efforts she made to implement environmental protections. She cited her co-sponsorship of unsuccessful measures to regulate the use of magnesium chloride in road salt and to prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from licensing combined sewer overflow systems.

“Using a list of cherry-picked bills to suit their political purposes, [Maine Conservation Voters] attempted to paint me as an anti-environment legislator who does not listen to her constituents,” Sirocki said. “This sort of overblown rhetoric and selective scoring is not what the people of Scarborough, or Maine, deserve. Facts, research and genuine conversation with constituents are what is needed.”

A dental hygienist, Sirocki is serving her first term representing House District 128, which covers part of Scarborough. She’s facing a challenge from Democrat Jean-Marie Caterina in November.

Sirocki beat Scarborough school board chairman Brian Dell’Olio in 2010 to claim the District 128 seat for Republicans. The seat had long been held by Democrat Peggy Pendleton.

In developing its legislator ratings, Maine Conservation Voters also considered lawmakers’ votes on two measures the group opposed: an unsuccessful bill pushed by Gov. Paul LePage that would have lifted a 100-megawatt cap on renewable power sources, allowing more hydropower to be classified as renewable, and the “takings” bill, which would have allowed property owners to sue the state if new regulations diminished their property value by 50 percent.

Maine Conservation Voters opposed both of those measures.

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