Changing Tides in Maine’s Election

Sean Mahoney | @SeanCLF

Tides in Maine vary enormously along the coast – tides along the sandy southern coast in York range between 5 to 7 feet while the tides in Eastport range from 18 – 21 feet. This week’s election results in Maine were more like the Eastport tides than the ones in York.

Maine is the first state to enact a same-sex marriage law by a vote of the general public. Mainers chose to replace Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican long known for her independent streak, with an actual independent, former Governor and now Senator-elect Angus King. And Mainers also voted to replace the Republican majorities in the State House of Representatives and the State Senate with a Democratic majority in both houses. All of this is good news for Maine and for Maine’s environment.

Senator-elect King is an eloquent and thoughtful leader when it comes to climate change, an issue that received embarrassingly little attention in the Presidential election until the nation witnessed the devastation and loss of Superstorm Sandy, just the latest in a series of increasingly severe weather events that have caused death and destruction along the Atlantic coast. Prior to running for Senate, King not only talked the talk but he walked the walk, developing wind power projects here in Maine. While CLF is likely to have its disagreements with Senator-elect King on certain matters, his election to the Senate will provide that body with a strong voice for acting on climate change in a way that is both good for our communities and good for our economy.

Closer to home, the loss of one party rule at the State House in Augusta marks the end of the hegemony of the LePage Administration over the past two years. With control of both the House and the Senate, the LePage administration was able to push through many changes to Maine’s regulatory structure to the detriment of the environment with little benefit to the economy. Whether that was in limiting access to the Board of Environmental Protection, making it easier for a Canadian company to conduct open pit mining or eviscerating the Land Use Regulatory Commission, the track record of the current administration has been deeply troubling and well worth the D grade it received from the Maine Conservation Voters recently.  Indeed, had it not been for a few courageous and principled members of his own party, the damage would have been even greater.

With both chambers of the legislature now controlled by what the Governor calls the “opposition,” the LePage tide is now receding and one hopes that means that instead of trying to recreate the false dichotomy of environment vs. economy, Augusta can focus on the real challenges and opportunities for Maine’s environment and its economy.

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Maine

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