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Maine Environmental Advocates Unveil Legislative Wish List
02/07/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Enviromental advocates went to the State House today to roll out their legislative agenda, which they say focuses on family and the economy. The so-called Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition is supporting four bills aimed at protecting water quality, energy efficiency, at restoring the state's fisheries, and protecting consumers from toxic chemicals. As A.J. Higgins reports, coalition members say passage of the bills will assure that Maine's economy, and its brand, will be protected.

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Maine Environmental Advocates Unveil Legislative W
Originally Aired: 2/7/2013 5:30 PM

Even as the state of Maine attempts to market its world-famous recreational opportunities, stunning scenery and quality of life, Maureen Drouin says current state policies are actually getting in the way.  Drouin, executive director of the Maine Conservation Alliance, says we are now faced with a choice:

"Whether we build a brighter future for our children, where Maine is a clean and healthy place to live and work, or whether we risk the pollution of our waterways, turn our backs on Maine's clean energy economy and allow dangerous chemicals to poison our children," Drouin said.

Drouin and other environmental advocates unveiled four legislative initiatives they say will ensure Maine's marketability as a place to visit and to live. One measure would ban toxic substances the coalition has dubbed as "the worst of the worst," causing cancer, reproductive problems and hormone disruption.

Lala Carothers, a mother of two from Cumberland, and board member of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, says most Mainers don't realize how pervasive the toxic chemcials are.

"There are flame retardants in our furniture, phthalates in toys, parabens in shampoos and lotions, pfcs in frying pans and bpa in food packaging, and that's just naming handful," Carothers says.

A second bill would provide funding for energy efficiency programs in Maine, while another would open the St. Croix River to alewives with the installation of fish passageways.

One of the bills would impose measures to ensure water quality near metalic mineral mine operations and protect taxpayers from being saddled with clean-up costs of abandoned mines.

Kevin Slater, co-owner of Mahoosuc Guide Service & Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge in Newry, says he's concerned about the dangers to northern Maine fisheries posed by open pit mining pollution.

"Part of my job as a guide is dependent on the health of Maine's cold-water fisheries, especially the native brook trout fishery, of which Maine is the last stronghold for the native brook trout fishery in the eastern U.S.," Slater says. "Make no mistake about it, if we weaken our water quality standards, it will be a threat to this fishery."

Maureen Drouin says the coalition is calling on lawmakers to put aside partisan difference, and pass the four bills this session. "'From clean water to healthy kids, each of our priorities helps to build a future in which Maine is a place where people want to live, work and raise a family, and where their kids will want to stay," she says.

Maine Enviromental Commissioner Patty Aho says her department will comment on the proposed legislation endorsed by the coalition, once her staffers have a chance to review the it.


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