No more refills: How global warming is affecting your morning cup of joe

May 9, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Photo credit: puuikibeach, flickr

You know what they say: There’s no such thing as a free refill. This morning, the Boston Globe presented a front-page article about how coffee prices are at an all-time high and will increase further as supplies of what is a vital substance (for me and so many others) continues to decline.

The article comes exactly two months after a March 9 article in the New York Times reported on the scientific evidence that global warming is damaging global coffee production, noting that leading voices in the coffee industry describe the potential for the virtual extinction of Arabica, the bean behind most high-quality coffee.  But the Globe article makes no mention of global warming.

Until the media presents and connects these kind of dots, we will not be able to take the action needed to face this fundamental challenge. Global warming is changing everything – from the coastal communities facing rising sea levels to our farms and forests where fundamental changes are underway.  Until we wake up and smell the coffee (if any is still available) we will not be able to make the move to a cleaner, more efficient society and economy.

EARTH DAY CHALLENGE DEADLINE EXTENDED: One more week to protect your New England!

Apr 22, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Photo credit: National Park Service

We’re excited to share that we’re very close to reaching our Earth Day Challenge goal of raising $41,000 which CLF board members have agreed to match dollar-for-dollar, making your gift work twice as hard! We’d like to extend an enormous thank you to all of you who reached for your credit cards and checkbooks– and for those of you who haven’t, to announce that you’re not too late! Just to be absolutely sure that we meet our goal, we’re extending our Earth Day Challenge deadline until midnight on April 30. You can help push us over the finish line by making a new or increased gift today!

Today, 41 years after Earth Day’s founding, its purpose of shining a spotlight on environmental issues is more poignant than ever. In the past few weeks alone, we have watched with terror as a nuclear disaster unfolded in Japan and, just two days ago, solemnly observed the one year anniversary of the BP oil disaster. Yet, in the current political climate, our national resolve to avert disasters like these and protect our environment is weak. That’s why every day is Earth Day at CLF.

Whether it’s working to ensure that appropriate caution is taken with the proposed Northern Pass transmission project in New Hampshire, or fighting to prevent Vermont’s state lands from being ravaged by ATVs, we shine a spotlight every day on the issues that concern you.

Tackling these challenges – and turning them into victories – is not possible without your help. Thank you in advance for all you do to help CLF protect our New England, today and every day.

Make this Earth Day count – Join CLF’s Earth Day Challenge!

Apr 1, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

In honor of the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, CLF Board members from across New England have banded together to make an extraordinary $41,000 investment in CLF’s – and our region’s – future. Every new or increased gift you make now through Earth Day – April 22– can be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $41,000.

Your gift today will go toward solving the region’s toughest environmental problems, and help us ensure a healthy, thriving New England for generations to come. From Maine to Rhode Island, CLF stands up for your favorite places, for the health of your families and your communities, and for the prosperity of our region. Since the last Earth Day, we:

• Cleaned up the air in Somerset, MA by closing the doors on an old, polluting coal plant
• Won tougher standards for phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain, VT
• Preserved the fragile ecosystem of Great Salt Pond on Block Island, RI
• Saved Mainers millions of dollars on electricity infrastructure
• Helped NH cities and towns save energy and money by increasing energy efficiency

As Earth Day approaches, we are reminded that around the world and right here in New England, our land, our oceans and our air are in peril. On the heels of the 2010 elections, many in the new Congress are pursuing a clear anti-environment agenda, one that cuts directly to the core of the most fundamental protections for our health, safety and well-being. With leadership in Washington sorely lacking, CLF is uniquely poised to take the reins in protecting New England.

Today, we are asking you to help us continue our progress by taking part in our Earth Day Challenge. Your commitment enables CLF to safeguard our oceans, clean up our lakes, rivers and forests, promote clean energy innovations and build healthy, livable communities. We hope you will take part in our Earth Day Challenge by making a donation today to help CLF protect our small but mighty corner of the world.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your MA, ME and NH Senators to Stand Up for Clean Air!

Mar 16, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Take a deep breath. Are you taking your clean air for granted? Don’t.

Today, the EPA proposed a rule to reduce hazardous emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants, such as mercury, arsenic, heavy metals, acid gases and dioxins, which cause thousands of deaths every year. This “air toxics rule” finally implements instructions that Congress gave to EPA in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. This much overdue effort, which builds upon decades of Clean Air Act implementation by EPA, protects the public health and serves as a reminder that if the EPA was stripped of its authority to enforce the Clean Air Act, essential safeguards like this wouldn’t exist.

The Clean Air Act is the most successful law our country has ever had to protect public health, preserve our environment and boost our economy. However, the key tool to ensure that protection is in jeopardy. Our senators are facing mounting pressure from our country’s biggest polluters to block the EPA’s ability to do its job, leaving harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources unchecked and threatening the health of our families and communities. Tell your senators that you expect them to protect you and your family, not big polluters.

New England states have shown leadership in passing progressive environmental laws to protect the health and homes of New Englanders. But it’s not just about us. Our region bears the brunt of pollution from power plants in the Midwest transported here by prevailing winds, which adds to pollution produced locally. Without federal EPA regulation, New England will remain vulnerable to harmful emissions literally blowing into our region.

Tell your senators today that you don’t take clean air for granted and that they shouldn’t either. Ask them to defend the EPA’s ability to do its job and enforce the Clean Air Act. Our region and our nation’s health, economy and environment depend on it.


CLF calls EPA’s “air toxics rule” critical for New England

Mar 16, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Today, the EPA announced the first national standard for emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. This rule will protect public health, preserve our environment and boost our economy, particularly for New England, which absorbs the downwind effects of air pollutants generated in other regions of the country. Jonathan Peress, CLF’s director of clean energy and climate change, responds.

“Right now, coal-fired power plants are allowed to poison the air we breathe with toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and lead. The EPA’s proposed ‘Air Toxics Rule’ will provide critical protection from major health impacts, including cancer, brain damage and birth defects, associated with this deadly brew of as yet unregulated pollutants.” More >

50 Bad Bills And That’s Not the Half of It

Mar 2, 2011 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

Photo courtesy of NRCM

At a press conference held yesterday, CLF and our colleagues at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) shined a spotlight on 50 bad bills that are now working their way through the state Legislature. If passed, these bills could:

  • Open up the three million acres of the North Woods to development
  • Repeal the ban on BPA and flame retardant chemicals that are hazardous to our health
  • Allow big polluters to not be held accountable for cleaning up their own mess

A list of those bills is here, as are some media clips from Maine Public Broadcasting Network, the Portland Press Herald and the Lewiston Sun Journal related to yesterday’s conference.

The assault on Maine’s environmental protections continues, and we will continue to fight back—but we need your help. If you haven’t already, please add your voice to the effort by contacting your local legislator, submitting a letter to the editor to your local paper, or by becoming a member of CLF.

Heavy-weight Growth Cities should be Linked Through ZOOM bus

Mar 2, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

A new report from the Washington, D.C. –based Brookings Institution found that two of Maine’s metro areas drive 54% of the state’s economic output, amounting to $2.7 billion dollars in gross domestic product.  Portland-South Portland-Biddeford and the Lewiston-Auburn areas are also responsible for creating 51% of the jobs here in Maine, despite only accounting for 47% of the population.  Currently, the ZOOM bus service provides limited yet very successful service between Portland and Biddeford.

Representative Moulton’s bill, LD 673, “An Act to Expand Fiscally Responsible Transportation Through Increased ZOOM Bus Service,” seeks to improve that existing service and add a much needed route up to the economic hub of Lewiston-Auburn.  This critical and long overdue link would connect 106,539 L/A residents with 266,800 jobs in the Portland-Biddeford area, according to the Brookings Institution report.  The report notes that 60.4% of the state’s innovation workers are located in the Portland metro area.   Doesn’t it make sense to connect major population hubs with innovative jobs?  That is what the ZOOM bus bill contemplates, all with the comfort of modern wi-fi access to provide for a better connected, more productive work force.

The report also credits the Bangor area with 11% of the state’s economic output.  Imagine increasing bus service to the Bangor area after the successful implementation of the current bill to reach a trifecta of economic growth, job creation and mass transit.  According to the report, these metropolitan areas represent the engines of state economic growth and concentrate the assets critical to building the “Next Economy.”  And while that is very exciting news, the fact is, we can’t afford to ignore the mass transit connections that will help move the people of the state of Maine forward in a competitive economy.

Source: Brookings Institution analysis of Census population estimates, American Community Survey, Moody’s Analytics, BEA, and BLS.

What’s next for LD1? CLF Maine speaks out against LePage “reforms”

Feb 17, 2011 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

This has been a busy week for CLF, as we continue to respond to the ongoing efforts of the LePage Administration to weaken Maine’s environmental protections. On Monday, February 14, immediately prior to the scheduled public hearing on the LePage proposals, the LePage Administration submitted an actual bill, LD1, that encompassed some but not all of the proposed “reforms.” The public hearing immediately following this announcement, held by the Legislature’s Regulatory Reform Committee, was attended by hundreds of opponents, including many members of CLF. At the hearing, CLF Maine Director Sean Mahoney submitted testimony to the Committee criticizing any attempts to drive a wedge between strong environmental protections and a vibrant economy. It is imperative that this Administration understands that much of Maine’s economy is built on its unique environment and quality of place.

At a separate press event at the State House on the same day, CLF Maine Board Member Hoddy Hildreth lent additional words to the CLF cause, stating his opposition to the rollbacks and calling the attempt to revive the false choice between pickerels and payrolls “hogwash.”

What now? CLF has filed additional requests to the Governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection under the Freedom of Access Act in connection with the new bill, LD1. Many of the original proposed “reforms” will now be the subject of separate bills that will be presented later in the session, and CLF will be providing updates as we get information.  An initial public hearing on LD1 is now scheduled for February 24 at the Cross Building at 10 a.m. We invite you to join CLF and our allies at this hearing, and show the Administration that the environment is important to the people of Maine.

LePage Administration Yields to CLF Call for Transparency, but with a Catch

Feb 12, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

In an ongoing battle between the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Administration of Governor Paul LePage over the release of public documents related to his regulatory reform proposals and “red tape audits,” the LePage Administration Thursday relented and agreed with CLF’s legal conclusion that Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) requires the Governor’s office to disclose documents related to the development of his regulatory agenda and staffing that were generated during his post-election transition.

Naturally, I am pleased that the Governor’s office has agreed to comply with the law that allows citizens access to their government’s records; however, I remain concerned that the Administration’s first reaction was to fight disclosure, and that even this agreement to adhere to the law comes with strings attached.

The Governor’s Office takes the position that “the Transition Team was under no obligation to preserve such documents” and says that it will not turn over documents in the possession of Transition Team members. So what shade of transparency is this? Well, I construe this statement to mean that documents that formed the basis for the Governor’s sweeping regulatory reform proposal were either destroyed or are in the possession of the Transition Team, and though those documents are accessible to the Governor’s Office, they will be withheld from the public.

That’s right, it seems that when Governor LePage declared the “most transparent transition in Maine history,”  he forgot to mention that he wasn’t beyond secreting policy documents using legal technicalities. So why doesn’t the Governor want the people of Maine to know who was really behind this effort to reverse Maine’s progress in protecting natural resources that are vital to our economy and our way of life? Is it possible that we might learn that it was lobbyists, out-of-state corporations and some of those special interests by which the Governor claims he cannot be taken hostage?

To borrow your words, Governor–“the Maine people deserve to know.”