EPA labor dispute
In spite of the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency that ensures our clean water, clean air and protects the public’s health, the current administration is putting its survival at risk with a continued deliberate decrease of its workforce.
Less publicized and more behind the scenes, the administration is making it more difficult for many federal workers at the EPA to continue to work. Although EPA workers are unionized, the administration is imposing unilateral directives on them, upending many of their ability to afford to continue working for our environment.
One of the new directives practically eliminates telecommunicating, so important to a workforce where often housing expenses drive many to the outskirts of the cities where the offices are located. This, despite the fact that in 2017, the Office of the Inspector General concluded the EPA was operating consistent with guidance even though many telecommute. Along with reducing the EPA’s own environmental footprint, teleworking has enabled a dedicated, talented workforce to continue working at the EPA even though the salaries prohibit living near their jobs.
Such directives will force many to leave the Agency which is already working at bare bones.
With the new fires, storms, floods, etc., workers are already being pulled from important work activities to help deal with environmental problems left by the disasters.
The new directives will force many talented, devoted workers to leave the EPA, the agency so important to the health and welfare of our nation. By eroding the workforce, the administration is surreptitiously threating EPA’s very survival.
Unintended power line consequences
Unintended consequences can come from many directions. A few years ago, some friends and I were canoe camping on a river in Quebec which flowed along the Canadian Shield. On a slow and peaceful section, we floated underneath the wires on a Hydro-Quebec power line.
As we drifted under the wires, we could hear a crackling and snapping sound, and could feel our skin tingling from the electric charges that surrounded the wires. They were quite high over the water and were part of a wide series of transmission towers. The feeling diminished as we continued downstream so we had no doubt as to where the feeling came from.
I can only wonder what the consequences would be for anything that lived close to that line. There are many valid concerns about CMP’s power line proposal. Perhaps this should be evaluated as well.
Stand up to the gun lobby
It takes leadership, courage and political will to change the trajectory of gun violence in our country. During the first session of the 129th Legislature, Maine had the chance to pass a lifesaving “red flag” bill, LD 1312. This bill, also known as an extreme risk protection order, would have provided families and law enforcement a legal pathway to seek an emergency restraining order to temporarily remove firearms from individuals deemed to be an imminent risk to themselves or others. The bill provided constitutionally sound due process measures including the right to legal counsel and a guaranteed hearing before a judge within 14 days.
Since the Parkland, Florida, massacre, at least 10 states have passed red flag bills, bringing the total to approximately 15 states nationwide. The Maine Senate caved to the gun lobby and defeated a bill supported by many in law enforcement and the medical community, the Maine Gun Safety Coalition and the public at large including many responsible gun owners that testified on the merits of this bill. This same Senate also defeated eight other gun safety bills this session.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Millett, demonstrated both leadership and the will to make gun violence prevention in Maine a priority. Those who voted in favor of the bill she sponsored deserve our thanks. Those who voted against the bill deserve to answer our question: What will it take for you to stand up to the gun lobby and put public safety ahead of dangerous special interests?
The vast majority of Mainers support common-sense legislation aimed keeping our families, communities and children safe.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America