Jan 24, 2014

Maine legislation audio: Towns would form Mosquito Control Districts. State could declare mosquito emergencies & override towns.

Ever wonder who decides when where and why local mosquito conditions conditions warrant the use of aerial spraying of biocides? The State? Towns? People? 

That's what the fascinating  45 minute discussion below is about.  Listen to the Maine Legislature's Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee hold a work session on January 23, 2014 to discuss a report regarding three aerial pesticide spraying bills LDs 1567 , 1568 and 1569.  Report was done as required by a bill passed last session: LD 292 An Act To Protect the Public Health from Mosquito-borne Diseases  

. Details & background below the recordings 

Full LDs 1567-1568-1569 worksession 46min
Part 1. 13 minutes 19 seconds
Part 2. 13 minutes 35 seconds
Part 3.  8 minutes 55 seconds
Part 4.  to worksession end 9 minutes  6 seconds
Written testimony by MOFGA
* Written testimny by Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

Bill Summary:  "This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to conduct appropriate mosquito-control activities in response to mosquito-borne disease public health threats. In addition, the bill authorizes municipalities to cooperate in controlling mosquitoes through the formation of mosquito-control districts. It establishes the Maine Mosquito Control Fund to provide funding for mosquito-control activities. Finally, the bill authorizes the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to declare a mosquito-borne disease public health threat."

 Legislators sounded suspicious of giving the state the power to declare a "mosquito-borne disease public health threat" .and then to be able to overide all citizen and municipal objections, and "conduct appropriate mosquito-control activities in response to mosquito-borne disease public health threats"  Responding to its own alarms?  Scroll down and listen to the 

BACKGROUND. In May 2013, Governor Lepage signed into lawThe bill required, among other things, a Legislative Review be made on the effect of the bill on towns and citizens, and a report made to the legislators this session. In 2014 the Lepage administration introduced LD 1569  "Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 51: Notice of Aerial Pesticide Application, a Late-filed Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry".

Jan 21, 2014

Maine's response to Ocean Acidification continues: Ivory tower swings into action.

Links to  audio mp3s of recent scientific and legislative events on Maine ocean acidity that have taken place in January 2014.January 21, January 16 and January 13th. 
Links to mtg agendas etc, too. Please feel free to forward all or any parts of this update.

January  21, 2014  The American lobster in a changing climate”a presentation by Dr. Rich Wahle, UMaine research oceanographer  Wahle's UME webpage.  Webinar hosted by NE-CAN, Northeast Coastal Acidification Network. Recent NE-CAN webinars

* Dr Rick Wahle 1/21/14 presentation and Q&A 16 minute audio  * Audio begins  in midst of presenting the top issues facing lobsters and other crustaceans here and around the world  from acidification.  A short quote of Dr Wahle summing things up.

January 16, 2014. Meeting on Ocean Acidification. Governor Hill Mansion, Augusta
January 13, 2014
* Audio recordings of the 1/13/14  hearing on LD 1602 Ocean Acidification Bill by the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee. With a note on something each speaker raises.  Link to LD 1602  


Jan 13, 2014

Ocean acidification bill supporters make their case to Maine legislature.

Listen below to Maine marine environmental history in the making. It was standing room only at the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee as supporters of  LD 1602  the "Save Our Shellfish" bill, made their case for appointing of a coastwide multisector  committee to study how to reduce the impact of oceanic acidification on Maine species and what proactively to do, fishery by fishery.

Not only were clammers and shellfish farmers and scientific community evident, The groundfish industry called for the scope to be broadened to consider all Maine marine species from plankton up. A wastewater management too was represented, and a wide spectrum of Maine ENGOs weighed in as well.

Senator Chris Johnson  Audio  1 min32 sec Committee co-chair, gave the introduction to the public hearing

Representative Mick Devin Sponsor  Audio  3 min 30 sec laid out the issue and the case for spending time, money and energy getting up to speed on the impact acidification is having on maine marine and estuarine species.

DMR Commissioner Pat Keliher   Audio  3 min called for achievable outcomes, not only another report bottom line is produce something that will help us.

Suzy Arnold, Island Institute marine scientist   Audio   4 min 9sec  noted that some  Gulf of Maine waters is 30% lower than it was. If our blood went that that much lower we'd be in a coma, she said. Our shell species are in trouble. The increased acidity is dissolving shells of baby shellfish. Critical prey like zooplankton are affected too. Crabs seem  okay but for thicker shells and slower growth.  The California rockfish and other fish  exhibit & anxiety when acidified.

Arnold said that compared to bivalves, nothing known about lobster acidification. This must be a priority. This is agreed upon by the Seagrant & Cooperative extension.  There will be a daylong meeting Thursday in Augusta to ID priorities all are welcome.

Nick Battista of Island Institute  Audio 6 min 4sec recommended changes to the composition of the acidification study commission. Copy the Washington State process. Get more money. Washington state  convened a panel of  24 members. Met 12 days. Selecting strong co-chairs who are not politicians. This study should be joined with existing programs. Let all stakeholders get informed and involved. Nick suggested the legislature consider an authorizing account where this study can accept outside funding.

Joe Salisbury. South Portland Fisherman   Audio  7 min 38 sec Has fished for 50 years and is asst professor. He has been working with NOAA studying Ocean acidification.
 After a decade we've learned about effects of the rising CO2. Cooler
water temperatures from Canada - make it more sensitive to OA than the south. GOM is unusually  susceptible.  Decreasing pH increasing CO2. but the Omega factor is such that warming actually helps some seafood species deal with acidification.  

Meredith White, Bigelow Laboratory Boothbay  Audio 2min 39sec  She studies diatoms, especially cocolithophores, and planktonic larvae.  She said there are multiple  reasons  to be concerned:
1. A vast majority of states show that scallops, clams, oysters & mussels are vulnerable.
2. It is now widely recognized that estuaries are more effected than open oceans. GOM is as a whole more susceptible  as it is less buffered less resistant to pH changes than the southeast coast. There is hope: Study of larval scallops shows that acidification has limited impact on them after the first day of life.

Richard Nelson. Friendship lobsterman  Audio 4min 10sec   Nelson works with Island Institute and other people on marine spatial planning. He said there's an aspect to bring up that others haven't mentioned: We are first to see the effect. Also we will be the first that might be displaced by mitigating aspects of solving acidificaton - i.e. by  offshore ocean windpower tidal energy etc. Maine should create a voice in this process. We need to be like Rhode Island and Massachusetts and have actual ocean management.

Joe Payne. Casco Baykeeper Audio 6min 20sec  A Maine scientist documented Casco Bay pH changes. Ordinarily base , like 8.2 pH. But they found complete dissolution of larval clams when exposed to 6.8 pH.  They tested Casco flats and found 100% of the lower PH flats were non productive, while higher pH were productive.

Two years of study confirms the pH difference. Within a flat one part is low pH and some high pH. Harvesters say there is more and more dead mud. This must be happening in other places along Maine coast.

Friends of Casco Bay supports forming the commission There are "silos of information" out there.  The problem is here. Its now. There are mitigating measures to buy us time to help clammers continue.

Question from Kruger  Is there past data on Maine coastal pH. Answer: Lots of water pH  testing but not mud testing.  Prof Mark Green tested in the lab. Couldn't find any data.

John Melrose. Maine Wastewater Control Association. Audio 2min.
The WWCA are professional operators of sewage treatment plants. Neither for nor against .They suggested a wastewater professional be appointed to the committee. Such expertise is very useful. Have the MWCA involved from the beginning

Dave Cousens Maine Lobstermen's Association  Audio 2 min 12sec. We don't know the effect on lobsters, only that it affects  clams and other small species. A 30% increase in pH! . We arent going to stop OA in our lifetime. But we need answers on how to live with it

Patrice McCarron MLA  Audio 49sec She concurred with everything said by preceding speakers.  Maine lobster is a huge part of our economy, she stressed. This is very very important to look into.

Lisa Pullman NRCM Audio 1min 20sec  Noted that marine resources are essential to the Maine economy & brand.  Maine is more dependent on Marine resources than any other state in New England. Important to study acidification.

Bill Mook. Shellfish farmer, Damariscotta  Audio 6min 42se said his business is the canary in the mine shaft. He's been farming shellfish there since 1985 and supplies shellfish seed from Maine all the way south to Virginia. He also raises oysters for market in Maine restaurants.

Mook said businesses are doing well, but "the check-engine light is on". - a phrase he raised repeatedly. Sometimes their hatchery is has problems.  Every water change is a bioassay.

Oysters spend 14 days swimming creating tiny shells of calcium carbonate. Over the past 5-6  years, we've found serious mortality of nursery stock  after storm events with lots of runoff,  "Our crude pH studies" he said, show acidification. They lose $100,000 worth of hatchery spawn from a single freshwater storm.

Climate models suggest increase in intense storms. Mook is looking for the right technology Working with Joe Salisbury of UNH, we are sampling to see how larval performance suffers under acidity. What the actual chemical factor is.
One step Mook takes is pump reserve tanks full of water before storm and runoff events happen, use it for the nursery larvae stock during that time.  In extremis, Mook will adjust pH.

Tom Abuello of the Nature Conservancy  Audio 1min 50 sec  Agreed with prior speakers. An outreach plan is needed. People need to know what to do and what not to do. TNC is running a wild oyster  restoration effort.  Some are coming back but it would be foolish to continue until we know what is what about ocean  acidification.

Ivy Fernuka. Conservation Law Foundation Audio 5min 29sec
CLF has a strong oceans program.  "Its a total game changer!" she said. We can do something about source, particularly stormwater runoff . Stormwater can elevate  pH. We must control the stormwater better.  A disaster in a Washington state oyster larvae. one year every larvae died in the tank. Turned out it was acidic stormwater that diluted the larvae's water.

Becky Bartovics  Sierra Club   Audio 3min 18sec supported the bill.  She noticed a lot of impact.  There's an oysterfarm on North Haven she said.  Maine needs to do  something. Shellfish at risk, even from small changes in acidification. There must be ways for communities to do something. Maine should act quickly.

Taryn Hallweaver Environment Maine   Audio 2min 48sec Maine is more dependent than other states on marine resources. Can't imagine not having the steamers I enjoyed with my grandfather.
The changes are real: juvenile lobsters are developing thicker shells and stunted growth.

Lucy Van Hook of Maine Coast Fishermen's Association (MCFA)  Audio 4min MCFA called for the study to be expanded to include groundfish and forage species. MCFA has 35 groundfish permit holders among its members. The Gulf of Maine groundfishery is in trouble: a federal disaster declaration is in effect. The Maine shrimp industry has been shut down. More and more fishermen dependent just on lobstering: an unstable situation.

MCFA believe the resources can get rebuilt. There are warmer waters and acidity change. This makes it more difficult to set management plans. The rapid increase in acidity is pervasive through the Maine ecosystem.  Especially of concern are species at the base of the food web. How will they be effected? What to do ?

So expand the scope. Outreach plan must use existing outreach channels,
Given the diversity of fisheries affected, it is important that at least  two different commrecial fisheries  be represented on the committee.

Beth Ahearn. Environmental Priority Coalition Audio 1min 22sec Her son is a clammer. The Cnvironmental Priority Coalition with 28 members, meet yearly This bill has been identified as a priority of the EPC.

End of public hearing.

Jan 12, 2014

Maine's floating windpower project. The backstory & unfilled gaps in knowledge 2005 - 2014

Below find details about the Maine offshore windpower initiative from 2005 to the present:  government documents,  simulations, audio recordings of Maine's legislature, offshore wind industry fishermen and public; scientific/technical reports, birder concerns and more, relating to the proposal to set up floating windmills off Monhegan, Maine.

Agency and NGO Background Documents
Letters, memos, reports that the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands produced & received in 2009 & 2010 while selecting & approving the Monhegan offshore windpower site. 359 pages

Audio recordings. MP3s.

July 11, 2013 Webinar "Making History with Volturnus" (wmv) 
(Including Jake Ward of DeepCwind)
November 29, 2009 Maine Offshore Energy '09 
June 15-18, 2009 Energy Ocean 2009

Dr. Habib Dagher of UMaine has repeatedly stated the importance of siting ocean windmills sufficiently offshore that they are over the horizon from the mainland. Listen to two excerpted quotes and then the full recordings. 
* Two excerpts from audio statements by UME's Habib Dagher (May 20, 2010 & August  11, 2011)  
* August 11, 2011   Listen to Dr Dagher answer a question about siting the windmills 20 or more miles offshore. Island Institute presentation at Strand Theater, Rockland.
* May 20, 2010  Listen to Dr. Dagher's 45 minute talk at the Rockport Opera House calling for them to be 20 to 50 miles offshore.   45 minutes.   

Simulation of Volturnus floating windturbines' likely impact on Maine lobster larvae (1 min long)  Aqua Ventus floating windturbines location off off Monhegan will create a large windshadow and ocean current-slowing zone, where  induced upwelling and downwelling waters in the energy footprint of the turbines may divert downeast lobster larvae-bearing coastal current away from the midcoast.  See Jumars 2010 report, below, for details

University of Maine's "research cluster" of faculty scientists reviewing or taking part in the offshore wind process.

April 20, 2012  New ocean windfarm fishery impact study: drop in local species; increases in exotics.   The effect of floating wind on the plankton and other sealife that relies on  surface water currents.

* 2010 Report. Dr. Peter Jumars, Director of the UMaine School of Marine Sciences.  Read Page 13 of his report "Anticipated Environmental Effects of Offshore Windpower Development in the Gulf of Maine". Dr. Jumars cites Norwegian govt scientist Göran Broström's report "On the influence of large wind farms on the upper ocean circulation." (Norwegian Meteorological Institute, 2008) .Göran Broström wrote that the ocean windfarms  reduce wind energy striking the waters  surrounding the turbine  "sufficiently enough that the local ecosystem will most likely be strongly influenced by the presence of a wind farm". Dr Jumars wrote: "This effect could be important offshore because deep waters of the Gulf of Maine stratify in summer. Would it be bad or good?" 

* May 1, 2012 Study of the nature of the "Gigawatt wakes" that windturbines create behind them. Viewed from an efficiency point of view but useful to ecological point of view also.

Jan 9, 2014

Maine Rally for Unity at Maine statehouse 1/9/2014. Audio of speakers & music

 Rally for Unity, was held January 9, 2014  at the statehouse Hall of Flags. It was sponsored by the "Alliance for the Common Good".  

The gathering of people spoke about solving our carbon energy problems  about acidification and invader crabs. 

Full 94 minute recording

1. Shayna & Alex opening singers

2. Heidi Brugger  3min 45 sec

3. Maria Girouard, Penobscot Indian Nation Welcoming remarks 5min 38 sec

4. Morgana Warner Evans (music)

5. Iris Sangiovani 5min 32sec

6. Kelsey Oulette

7. Representative Brian Jones 5min 4sec

(More to come)

 Full list of speakers
1) Sheyne and Alex (music)
2) Heidi Brugger (chant)
3) Maria Girouard (welcome)
4) Morgana Wemer-Evans (singing)
5) lris SanGiovanni- divestment; South Portland
6) Kelsey Ouellette- divesting UNE; climate change
7) Representative Brian Jones- sponsoring divestment bill 1461
8) Vanessa Norman- single payer healthcare
9) Nicole Moreau- bring our war $$ home'?
10) Luke Sekera- fighting Nestle's water extraction
11) Ron Huber, Friends of Penobscot Bay
12) Sass Linneken— oil trains
13) Mathias Wells Deming- East-West Corridor
14) Meaghan LaSala- Southern Maine Worker’s Center
15) Dave Marshall- We the People Maine
16) Dan White
16) Chris Buchanan (closing, thank yous, chant)
17) Morgana Warner-Evans (singing)
18) Shayne and Alex (music)

Jan 6, 2014

Searsport mega dredge plan: state agencies start wading into the fray.

Maine state agencies that will consider the Searsport expansion dredge
proposal are starting to rouse. The time approaches when they must make decisions about the controversial Searsport Harbor expansion dredging plan, and send that information off to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Circular water zone is proposed dredge area
1. Maine DEP's Kathy Howatt wrote us  on 1/2/14
"The Searsport dredge project is an NRPA project, and will be managed by Maria Lentine-Eggett from the Department’s Eastern Maine Regional Office. I work on hydropower projects and so I won’t be involved in the water quality certification under the NRPA program. Maria can provide you more specific information regarding the Searsport project. Let me know if I can offer any additional assistance."
 Kathy Davis Howatt"
2. Maine Coastal Program Todd Burrowes  wrote on  1/2/14
 Thanks for your e-mail regarding the Army Corps of Engineers’ (“ACOE”) proposed Searsport Harbor dredging project.  We have not received the ACOE’s federal consistency determination for this project.  

Please be advised that under Maine’s networked coastal program the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) will be the lead agency conducting the CZMA consistency review of this project in conjunction with its review of the ACOE’s application for water quality certification and that DEP’s findings and conclusions will provide the basis for the State’s response to the ACOE’s consistency determination.  

"There will be a public notice of the ACOE’s consistency determination and opportunity to provide comments to DEP on the proposed project.  By this note, I’m asking Maria Lentine-Eggett, the DEP project manager for this project, to include the Friends of Penobscot Bay on DEP’s list of interested parties for this matter.  The basic period for review of a federal agency’s consistency determination is 60 days, with a 15-day extension at the State’s request and further extension of the review period as agreed by the federal agency.  We anticipate extension of the review period as needed to complete DEP’s review process."

3. Maine DEP's Maria Lentine-Eggett  wrote us on 1/6/14:

"Mr. Huber,
I will put your organization on the list of interested persons.  I am currently reviewing the Sprague application for completeness.  I hope to have it placed on the Department's FTP site for ease of public viewing.  If that is achieved, I will let you know."

Thank you,