On Thursday, January 20th, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, along with a number of other natural resource organizations, sponsored a forum on the environment with Governor Paul LePage. At the Governor’s suggestion, the event was titled “Roundtable on Maine People & the Environment”. Modeled after a similar roundtable for members of the business community in Maine, 28 different speakers from all walks of life in Maine with an interest in the environment were invited to make a brief, focused presentation of their primary concern for the Governor to listen to. Over 500 people attended this event at the Augusta Civic Center.
The roundtable participants included representatives from builders and developers, agriculture and farming, hunting and fishing, higher education, public health, families, foresters and loggers, recreation and tourism, Maine Indian tribes, manufacturing, software development, architects and engineers, and religious institutions. The comments offered to the governor during the nearly 2 hour session indicated a general support for the crucial need to maintain effective environmental protection and regulation to protect Maine’s natural resources and to promote sustainable economic development. Specific comments included the need to retain the Maine Uniform Building & Energy Code (MUBEC), support for existing fisheries regulation, support for the Land for Maine’s Future program (LMF), the importance of preserving public health through the reduction of pollution and the prevalence of toxic chemicals in the environment, the crucial link between the conservation of Maine’s unique natural habitat and sustainable economic development, the need to preserve Maine’s farmlands and farming traditions, and the significant economic cost of climate change. Many of the issues raised, particularly the need to retain the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, reflect the current legislative policies of GrowSmart Maine.
After the presentations from members of the roundtable were concluded, Governor LePage had the opportunity to make a few brief remarks. He indicated his intention to fight air pollution that is generated from out-of-state sources and his commitment to effective, strong environmental regulation that is based on common sense and good science. The governor also emphasized the need for environmental regulation to be less adversarial in nature and encouraged future partnerships between state government and the private sector in the effort to effectively regulate and protect Maine’s environment and natural resources.