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May 8, 2021

Legislature hears LD 1567 Climate Change Equity bill testimony

On Ma7 7, 2021  the Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on  LD 1567  Act To Equitably Fund Maine's Climate Change Mitigation Efforts (pdf)

*Bill Introduction 13min

* Ant Blasi 3min

"This bill establishes the Maine Climate Change Equitable Mitigation Fund, a 44 nonlapsing, revolving fund administered by the Department of Environmental Protection "

"Money in the fund may be disbursed only for the cost of fund 50 administration, grants awarded to municipalities or counties for climate change 51 assessments and risk mitigation, loans or grants awarded to community action agencies to 52 supplement existing Efficiency Maine Trust programs.. "


PFOS Maine Legislature takes it up again in LD 1600. Public hearing 5/7/21

 LD 1600 An Act To Investigate Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Contamination of Land and Groundwater - Rep. Lori Gramlich of Old Orchard Beach

* Full hearing on LD 1600  1hr 12min

* Bill Lippincott  3min 26sec  ***  * Dawn Neptune Adams 5min35sec

BILL SUMMARY  " This bill creates the Land Application Contaminant Monitoring Fund to be used by the  Department of Environmental Protection to test and monitor soil and groundwater for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other contaminants and for other related  activities." 

"The fund is funded by a $10 per ton fee assessed on any disposal of septage,  industrial sludge, municipal sludge, bioash, wood ash or other residual, which is material generated as a by-product of a nonagricultural production or treatment process that has  value as a source of crop nutrients or soil amendment."

"This bill also requires the department  to test land that has received residuals for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other contaminants and to notify the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry of the findings of any contamination of land currently being used for the  production of agricultural products."

ME Legislature takes up Resolve to Analyze Impact of Sea Level Rise LD 1572

On May 7, 2021n the Legislature's Environment & Natural Resources Committee  held a public hearing  on LD1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise (pdf) LISTEN TO SELECTED SPEAKERS

The Resolve calls for  a coordinated interagency effort to  predict and mitigate damage to Maine's coastal property and industry by sealevel rise. The resolve focuses on an 18 inch rise by 2050, and a whopping4 foot rise  by 2100,

 LD1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

Listen to FULL  LD 1572  PUBLIC HEARING  51 minutes

SELECTED SPEAKERS  

* Bill Introduction  Rep Lydia Blume 3min

* Melanie Loyzim DEP Commissioner 2min46secr

ME State Geologist Bob Marvinney_5min30sec

Brian Ambrette. Office of Innovation 4min8sec 



May 7, 2021

Defending Maine against the Plastic Armada: LD 911 is getting traction.

 Want to keep waste from foreign nations out of Maine?

Excitingly , LD 911 is gaining much traction! We have an incredible opportunity to pass it and keep the the world's plastic waste bales out of Maine. Right Now! Below are details of how the worksession yesterday went and a recording of it. (28min) Read the bill and Listen to the 5/5/21 worksession .irst the audio: http://penbay.org/.../melegis_2021_enr_050521_ws_ld911...
Read the bill
Blow by blow description of the worksession

On May 5th LD 911 "An Act To Prohibit the Reception of Foreign Waste Plastic in Maine Ports" had a rollercoaster worksession that ended up with the bill being tabled to another work session.
After the committee analyst laid out the details, Rep Vickie Doudera shockingly moved immediately for Ought Not to Pass. But (spoiler alert) No second, and later she withdrew that motion.
Senator Bennett called instead for Ought to Pass as Amended. He noted that the only objection anyone had to the bill was a fuzzy definition of "other jurisdictions" that would be barred from shipping us their waste. Change it to just "other nations" They decided to take a caucus break
After the break Rep Doudera announced she withdrew her ONTP motion. Then it got tabled! Though committee members Rep Hanley and O'connor opposed the tabling.
Once they agreed to table it , the committee came up with a list of questions to be answered before the next worksession on LD911:
* What volume of plastic waste coming in to Maine - both weight and dollar value?
* What does the Atty general's office think as to the constitutionality of the bill? Can Maine law supercede international laws? A legislator: Never know till we try. We shouldn't be a world dumpsite!
Blume: This is about out of of country waste. Zero in on that. Not waste brought by land from other US states.
Also shouldn't we allow allow plastic trash that accumulated onboard from the crew's normal operations during the voyage to Maine - food wrappers etc to be taken by a municipal trash hauler?
So bay frfiends and others plases urge your legislators to help keep Maine free of foreign plastic waste by suppolrting LD 911 "An Act To Prohibit the Reception of Foreign Waste Plastic in Maine Ports"
Stay tuned!

May 3, 2021

Frenchboro: ME Legislature's Marine Resources Comm considers, carries over, bill to reduce the size of the Frenchboro Cable Zone

LD 332 An Act To Reevaluate the Frenchboro Area Dragging Exclusion Zone  is one of the bills  that the Maine Legislature's marine resources committee considered and ultimately decided to "carry over"  to a special session later this year.   Listen to interesting testimony and discussions  at  its Public Hearing  on March 9, 2021 (37minute  audio)  and its Work Session  March 16th  (30 minute audio). Zone is the reddish area on the chart    Positions for and against  reducing the size of the no-dredges-or drags zone protecting the Frenchboro power cable were strongly made..


Bill summary "This bill directs the Commissioner of Marine Resources to evaluate the size and 33 boundaries of the Frenchboro area, where dragging and scalloping are prohibited, to 34 determine whether the area should be modified. This bill also allows the commissioner to 35 modify by rule that Frenchboro area."


May 2, 2021

Searsport Plastic Waste Spill: MDEP's April 26th repliy to Sprague letter. Spill Timeline

On April 26, 2021 Maine DEP replied to Sprague's response to the agency  about  spilling at least two and a half tons of plastic waste into  Searsport Harbor on December ,2, 2020. Below read the documents that led up to that April 26th letter from DEP to Sprague.

Searsport Plastic Waste Spill Enforcement Timeline

12/2/20  Plastic waste bales spill  while offloading from  Sider London 

1/15/21 Maine DEP  sends Sprague a Notice of Violation

2/ 27/ 21 Sprague sends MDEP four documents in reply:

 Form 03 Ship Shore Safety Inspection  *  Form 19 Dry Cargo Risk Assessment

Terminal Operations Manual 302  *  Terminal Operations Manual 306

4/26/21   Maine DEP  Replies to Sprague's response to DEP's  2021 Notice of Violation

BACKSTORY  December 2, 2020, while the vessel Sider London was offloading shredded plastic waste  at Mack Point  an unknown numbers of baled plastic waste spilled into Searsport Harbor.  The bales broke up and washed ashore on Sears Island.  It  quickly got interwoven into the seaweed wrack along the island shore.  Sprague failed to report the spill.  

A week later reporter Ethan Andrews posted photos online of  plastic washing ashore on the island. I and others contacted DEP, which visited the island, December 9th. 

 Cleanup by Sprague contractors and the public commenced and continued for a month. On Jan 15th MDEP sent  Sprague the Notice of Violation linked above.


Apr 30, 2021

Governor Mills Salmon Tankfarm Exemption bills benefit more than Nordic

Governor’s RAS exemptions bill raises concerns among Nordic opponents

By Kendra Caruso | Apr 22, 2021
Janet Mills submitted emergency legislation that exempts land-based aquaculture facilities from the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code Requirement, which has alarmed Nordic Aquafarms opponents worried that the legislation might ease building requirements for the company’s proposed land-based fish farm.

The bill was submitted to the secretary of the Senate April 12 and was referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but no public hearing or work session for the bill has been scheduled for the committee, according to the Maine Legislature’s website.

It was presented on the governor's behalf by state Sen. Kimberley Rosen, R-Hancock, regarding Whole Oceans' land-based aquafarm project at the former Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport, and would exempt the company from certain building code requirements for a metal building that will house several large water tanks, according to Kate Foyet of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The state code as written would require the company to install an elaborate sprinkler system that is not necessary for the building, considering its use and nature, she said in an email. Her department and the state Fire Marshal’s Office worked together to get the bill to the governor.

Once signed by the governor, the measure, which requires a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate to pass, would go into effect immediately, Foyet said, so the project could go on as scheduled. It does not exempt land-based aquaculture developments from air quality and effluent standards, she said.

Nordic opponent Upstream Watch issued a press release against the emergency legislation stating that it is unclear which aquaculture project the bill is for and questioning why it is considered an emergency.

The organization said it is concerned that the bill could weaken protections for workers and contractors working for aquaculture developments. The code requires many building construction features like fire safety, minimum electrical ventilation requirements for wastewater treatment processes, and maximum thresholds for removing soil to satisfy the definition of stable soil that help protect workers and contractors, according to the press release.

“Partial recirculating aquaculture factories are not hay barns or cow sheds,” Upstream President Amy Grant said in the press release. “They must be properly built to code, and meet or exceed energy standards. At the very least the public has the right to a formal proposal and review process, and legislators have a duty to protect Maine’s workers and the climate.”

Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area, which also opposes Nordic’s project, issued a call to action through email April 13 asking people to contact state officials to express opposition to the bill that it claims will bring the company closer to obtaining all its construction permits necessary to start development.

Nordic received all its permit approvals from the Board of Environmental Protection and the Belfast Planning Board last year. There is a land dispute still pending in Waldo County District Court regarding ownership of the intertidal area where the company intends to lay its pipes.

Ending Plastic Waste exports: UK's down 83%. Germany's down 72% . USA down by only 12% .

Latest (April 30, 2021) from the Basel Action Network group fighting the shipment of plastic waste all around the world.   Megatons of useful info 

From: Basel Action Network <inform@ban.org>
Date: Fri, Apr 30, 2021 at 6:58 PM
Subject: Plastic Waste Trade Watch - April 2021
Plastic Waste Trade Watch
Greetings: This is the first edition of a monthly review of information from around the world on the international trade in plastic waste. It is produced by the Basel Action Network's (BAN) Plastic Waste Transparency Project. This project conducts campaigns, networking, research, and statistical analysis of the trade in plastic waste. The project publishes this newsletter summary each month, but also maintains the Plastic Waste Transparency Hub website, which serves as an overall clearinghouse for News, Data, Campaigns, and Resources.

To sign up new members: Join our newsletter mailing list by clicking here.
Photo of the Month
Target: Indonesia. Aeshninna Azzahra (Nina) 14, of the River Warriors, a girl-power environmental organization, is displaying Target department store's bags exported from the US to Indonesia, protesting the recent plastic waste arrivals from the US. Copyright Ecoton 2021.
Trade Summary Data
The Basel Plastic Waste Amendments, restricting exports of plastic waste to Non-OECD countries, became effective on January 1, 2021. The United States is now the largest exporter of plastic waste to Non-OECD countries.

Several exporting countries significantly reduced plastic waste exports to Non-OECD countries:

  • U.K.: 83% Decline in monthly plastic waste exports to Non-OECD Countries from 2020 (monthly average of 9.3 million kg/month) to 1.6 million kg/month in January 2021

  • Germany: 73% Decline in monthly plastic waste exports to Non-OECD Countries from 2020 (monthly average of 28.3 million kg/month) to 6.1 million kg/month in January 2021

  • Japan: 65% Decline in monthly plastic waste exports to Non-OECD Countries from 2020 (monthly average of 62.7 million kg/month) to 22.0 million kg/month in January 2021

Two countries did not significantly reduce plastic waste exports to Non-OECD countries:

  • Netherlands: 2% Increase in monthly plastic waste exports to Non-OECD Countries from 2020 (monthly average of 8.3 million kg/month) to 8.5 million kg/month in January 2021

  • United States: 12% Decline in monthly plastic waste exports to Non-OECD Countries from 2020 (monthly average of 28.4 million kg/month) to 25.1 million kg/month in January 2021

More detailed plastic waste trade information is available on The Hub.
Data Chart of the Month
Quotation of the Month
"We are exploring ways in which we can ratify the Basel Convention without accepting the Ban Amendment."
       
-- Mr. John Thompson of the US State Department at a Basel Convention
stakeholders briefing.

Note: The US is indicating that they do not want to accept the most important achievement in the 32-year history of the Basel Convention -- the full ban on the export of hazardous wastes to developing countries. As the Convention allows no exceptions or reservations to its obligations, it appears the US once again is willing to violate international law in order to continue a policy of environmental injustice. 
Graphic of the Month
Videos of the Month
The Story of Plastic - Short Version
Plastics: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Waste Trade Protest Indonesia by River Warrior
Key Campaign Updates
Call for US to Ratify Basel Convention: More than 100 organizations have signed a letter asking President Biden to press for full Ratification of the Basel Convention, consistent with the Administration's Environmental Justice Policy. Sign ons are being asked for until May 10. The letter will be mailed on the 13th. To view the letter and sign on, please visit the sign on form here.

Call for Italy to Take Back Household Waste They Dumped in Tunisia: Organizations are now signing onto a letter directed to the Italian government and the European Commission to return the 280 containers full of Italian waste illegally exported to Tunisia. You can still sign on here until May 3.

Data shows that US Exporters Continue their Criminal Trafficking in Waste: As reported in the New York Times, BAN found that US exporters continued in January to maintain their high export rates of plastic wastes to developing countries. Exports to Malaysia actually increased. This continued trade took place despite the fact that after January 1, because of the new Basel rules, it is illegal for the Basel Parties to receive them, to import from the US (a non-Party). BAN highlighted three suspect loads which were on ships steaming towards Malaysia, India, and Indonesia and warned the Basel competent authorities in the three countries. Upon arrival, Malaysia found the shipment to be legal but returned 300 of other seized containers of plastic waste -- allegedly to the country of origin. Indonesia returned one of 6 containers from the same exporter due to contamination, and India, which supposedly has banned imports of plastic waste, took no action whatsoever.

EU Waste Trade Manifesto Published: NGOs working to ensure the European Union's newly revised Waste Shipment Regulation will be far more strict with respect to exports of plastic waste have issued the waste trade manifesto and are seeking sign-ons to it from organizations and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). So far, 31 MEPs have signed on

Also in the News
Germany and other EU Countries Dumping Waste in Romania: Romania has recently become a dumping ground for plastic waste, e-waste, and household garbage, illegally exported to them. Recent discoveries of illegal waste shipments in Romania have originated in Italy, Portugal, the UK, and Belgium, and Germany, and all of these instances occurred in less than a month. The Romanian Minister of the Environment claims that these illegal shipments were facilitated by organized criminals and that all shipments entering the country must now be scanned to prevent more illegal traffic. Once in the country, this waste ends up in illegal dumps in villages of marginalized Roma gypsies. Lacking educational, financial, and infrastructural resources, these communities eke out a living extracting metals, and burning what is left -- pushing air quality to dangerous levels.

Interpol Releases Report Revealing 130 illegal exports in just 30 DaysA new Interpol Marine pollution survey involving 67 member countries and making over 34,000 inspections on land and on sea, have found 130 instances of illegal waste trafficking.  
New Studies and Reports
Upcoming Events
Plastic Waste Transparency Project