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Testimony in support (with amendments) of LD 1679: An Act To Establish the Maine Climate Change Council To Assist Maine To Mitigate, Prepare for and Adapt to Climate Change (Governor’s bill)

May 17, 2019

Senator Carson
Representative Tucker
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay and Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) Steering Committee testimony in support (with amendments) of LD 1679: An Act To Establish the Maine Climate Change Council To Assist Maine To Mitigate, Prepare for and Adapt to Climate Change (Governor’s bill)

Dear Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Introduction to Support for Bill with Amendments:
Friends of Casco Bay and the Steering Committee of the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership submit the below testimony in support of LD 1679, An Act To Establish the Maine Climate Change Council To Assist Maine To Mitigate, Prepare for and Adapt to Climate Change (Governor’s bill). We support the bill but recommend four amendments to better address the impacts of climate change to Maine’s marine species and habitats. These amendments are set forth in the attached track-changes document and below:

  • Amend Section 11 (38 MRSA § 578) – which requires the Council or Department to provide evaluation reports to this Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT) Committee – to also require reports to the Marine Resources Committee (MRC) and to authorize the MRC to make recommendations to this Committee.
  • Amend Section 10 (38 MRSA §577-A) (8) to include recommendations for scientific monitoring and research to fill data gaps needed to spur action or evaluate remediation and adaptation strategies.
  • Amend Section 10 (38 MRSA §577-A) (6) to specify that the Scientific Subcommittee should provide technical support to the working groups and should contemplate creating subgroups of experts to support the working groups.
  • Amend Section 10 (38 MRSA §577-A) (1) to include representation by a fisherman and by an aquaculturist.

Who We are:
Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit marine stewardship organization dedicated to improving and protecting the environmental health of Casco Bay. We scientifically monitor and assess water quality, including parameters indicative of climate change and ocean acidification. We employ a Casco Baykeeper, who serves as the lead advocate, or eyes, ears and voice of the Bay. We engage in significant public outreach including citizen science and other actions to engage our members and volunteers in our work to improve the health of the Bay.1

Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) is a voluntary partnership formed to implement recommendations of the Ocean Acidification Study Commission authorized by the 126th Legislature (see study commission’s report).2
Friends of Casco Bay, the Island Institute, and Maine Sea Grant convened MOCA when the State failed to establish an on-going council to implement the Study Commission’s recommendations. Friends of Casco Bay has served on the MOCA Steering Committee since its inception and as its Coordinator for the last two years. MOCA has been most effective as an interim forum for coordinating and sharing research among public and private entities and as an information exchange.

Testimony on the Marine Aspects of LD 1679:
We support the overall concept of working across sectors to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Because our expertise is with respect to the health of marine waters, we will confine our testimony to those aspects of the bill.

To paraphrase Governor Mills’ inaugural address, we must act now. Climate change is already impacting Maine’s fisheries and habitats:

  • About a third of all carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, where it mixes with sea water to form carbonic acid and lower pH. This process is known as ocean acidification. In Casco Bay, pH has dropped from 8 to almost 7.8 from 2000-2012. The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that a decrease of an integer value changes the concentration by tenfold. Lower pH (more acidic water) can cause mollusk shells—including clams, oysters, and mussels—to pit and dissolve.
  • Annual precipitation in Maine has increased six inches since 1895, and we are experiencing more intense storms that deliver excess nitrogen to marine waters. The nitrogen fuels algal and phytoplankton blooms. The blooms have immediate negative impacts on marine species. For example, we have seen thick mats of nuisance algae smother clams. In addition, as blooms die, they release carbon dioxide which mixes with sea water to form carbonic acid. This process is known as coastal acidification and also lowers the pH of our coastal waters.
  • The temperature of Casco Bay rose about 1 degree Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1993 to 2018. Warmer ocean temperatures mean that green crabs are not dying back over the winter. The higher populations of green crabs prey on soft-shelled clams and other mollusks. They also demolish eelgrass beds, a critical marine habitat. Rising ocean temperatures also cause shifts in species and can contribute to an increase in lobster shell disease.
  • In 2016, we began measuring the amount of calcium carbonate available for mollusks and other organisms to build their shells. We learned that for most of the year, there is not enough calcium carbonate in the water for shell-building.

Prior to news that Governor Mills would introduce her comprehensive Climate Change Council bill, Representative Lydia Blume worked with MOCA to draft LD 1284: An Act To Create the Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species. The MRC held a hearing on that bill on April 2, about a month before the Governor’s bill was printed.

135 people from Friends of Casco Bay, MOCA, and other entities submitted testimony in support of LD 1284. No one testified against the bill. The Environmental Priorities Coalition selected the bill as a priority; industry leaders such as Mook Sea Farm and the Maine Aquaculture Association supported the bill; and leading marine research institutes, including Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Island Institute, Downeast Institute, and University of Maine, offered their support. The Ocean Conservancy‘s CEO sent a letter of support and separately authorized retired Congressman Tom Allen to appear and testify on their behalf.3

Commissioner Keliher testified and asked the MRC to delay further consideration of LD 1284 because the Governor intended to incorporate it into her bill. The MRC honored that request. We have reviewed and support LD 1679; it incorporates most of the intent of LD 1284 but fails to require progress reports to the MRC and afford opportunities for the MRC to make recommendations to this Committee.

We respectfully request that you amend the bill in that respect, and consider and address the other suggested amendments and comments on the attached track-changes document. Thank you for your attention to our testimony.

Sincerely,
Ivy Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

A PDF of this testimony and the attachments can be found here.

1 For more information about Friends of Casco Bay, please refer to our website: https://www.cascobay.org/.
2 For more information about MOCA, please refer to: https://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/extension/maine-ocean-andcoastal-acidification-partnership.
3 This link directs you to the testimony submitted in support of LD 1284:
http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=1284&PID=1456&snum=129&sec3#.

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides

May 1, 2017

Senator Paul Davis
Representative Danny Martin
State and Local Government Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides

Dear Senator Davis, Representative Martin, and Distinguished Members of the State and Local Government Committee:

Please accept this letter as the testimony of Friends of Casco Bay in opposition to LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides. We ask this Committee to vote that LD 1505 ought not to pass because: (1) under existing state law, pesticide use has escalated and threatens human and environmental health; and (2) it voids existing lawful municipal ordinances that seek to limit harmful pesticide use and eliminates municipal “home rule” authority to pass any future pesticide-related ordinances.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed over a quarter century ago to protect and improve the health of Casco Bay. Our work involves education, advocacy, water quality monitoring programs, and collaborative partnerships. We test ambient water quality conditions and for the presence or absence of specific pollutants.

1. Concern that pesticides already are present in our coastal waters

Both by definition and by their very nature, pesticides are products which kill, control or repel living things. Pesticides are toxic by design; they are the only chemicals we release purposely into our environment to kill living things. Federal and state laws permit the use of pesticides only with strict adherence to the label directions which accompany every pesticide product.

No label cites marine habitat as a permissible site for lawn care/ornamental plant care pesticide use. Meanwhile, Friends of Casco Bay detects routine trespass of lawn care/ornamental plant care pesticides into Casco Bay.

Between 2001 and 2009, we collected rain water flowing into the Bay and analyzed the samples for a suite of pesticides. Our goal for this project, in collaboration with the Maine Board of Pesticide Control, was simply to determine “presence” or “absence” of pesticides. Lab results identified 10 different pesticides in 14 locations all around the Bay.

Pesticides Detection around the Bay
Friends of Casco Bay, working in conjunction with the Maine Board of Pesticide Control, has detected pesticides in stormwater running into Casco Bay from fourteen neighborhoods. Chemicals we found are shown on this map.

With this information we were able to state with confidence that pesticides were getting into our coastal waters. Determining the impacts of pesticides on our marine ecosystems has been beyond the scope of our work, but clearly, especially in regard to our iconic Maine lobster, more research needs to be done.

Consider these six toxic pesticides detected in our waters:

  • 2, 4-D: banned in five countries, this herbicide is toxic to aquatic invertebrates and may be linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in humans
  • Clopyralid: this herbicide has been linked to birth defects in animals
  • Diazinon: banned from being sold to U.S. consumers but still legal for use, this insecticide has a high aquatic toxicity and is linked to reproductive problems
  • Dicamba: found in groundwater throughout the U.S., this herbicide is toxic to fish and zooplankton
  • MCPP: along with 2, 4-D, this herbicide is in the same family of chemicals as Agent Orange and is highly toxic to bay shrimp
  • Propiconazole: this fungicide is a possible carcinogen

Overall, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent chemicals in existence are pesticides. <sup>1</sup> Children exposed to pesticides in homes, schools, lawns, and gardens can develop lower IQs, birth defects, developmental delays, and higher risks of autism, ADHD, and cancer.<sup>2</sup>

Pesticides also harm wildlife. For example, neonicotinoid pesticides have gained notoriety lately for leading to the demise of bees, causing them to forage less and produce fewer offspring.<sup>3</sup> Neonicotinoids that reach surface waters, including marine waters, adversely affect survival, growth, emergence, mobility, and behavior of many sensitive aquatic invertebrates, even at low concentrations.<sup>4</sup> Other pesticides may sicken shellfish and possibly harm lobster larvae. Our understanding of the impacts of pesticides on marine life is still evolving and is compounded by other threats to marine health. For example, scientists have found that larval oysters and hard clams can withstand low levels of pesticide use, but become more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides if their ecosystem is suffering from local climate stressors such as hypoxia and acidification-conditions, which occur on occasion in Casco Bay.<sup>5</sup> The impacts of pesticides on lobsters still require further study, but Pyrethroids have been implicated in lobster die-offs in Long Island Sound.<sup>6</sup>

Current state law does little to restrict the use of pesticides, and as a result, pesticide use has surged. Lawns are where families play, picnic and relax. Unfortunately, the desire for the perfect lawn is leading residents in our communities to use toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to make their yards green. In 1962, Rachel Carson sounded the alarm about pesticide pollution in her landmark book, Silent Spring. While some pesticides have been banned since then, household use of pesticides has increased dramatically. According to the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, more than 6 million pounds of lawn care pesticides were used in 2007 alone, nearly an eight-fold increase over 1995 (see chart). This exceeds the amount of pesticides used by all agribusinesses in Maine, including farmers and foresters.

Pesticide Purchases Graph
Source: http://maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/yardscaping/lawn/index.htm

2. Maine municipalities take steps to ban or limit pesticides

In 1987, this legislature passed 22 MRS § 1471-U requiring the Maine Board of Pesticide Control to maintain a centralized listing of municipal ordinances that apply to pesticide storage, distribution or use. Section 1471-U does not affect or limit the ability of municipalities to enact ordinances.

The Maine Board of Pesticide Control web site contains links to 27 municipal ordinances. A review of these ordinances shows the thoughtful process each city or town employed to study its need and illustrates how the municipality tailored its ordinance to address a specific local health concern. The cities and towns that have passed ordinances range from Allagash to Wells, and include both rural and urban regions. Some ordinances apply to agricultural uses, others to forestry, and others to sensitive environmental areas.

Along Casco Bay, Harpswell has passed a pesticide ordinance that bans the use of neonicotinoids (blamed for bee die-offs) and insect growth regulators (used to kill browntail moths and linked to harming lobsters). The ordinance bans use of pesticides or fertilizers within 25 feet of the shoreline. South Portland has passed an ordinance that phases in a pesticide ban on public property after one year, on private property after two years, and requires a comprehensive review of the ordinance in year three. Education will be emphasized over enforcement. More recently, the Portland Pesticides Task Force came out in support of an ordinance that bans the use of pesticides on lawns, patios and driveways, and within 75 feet of water. The draft ordinance would also have Portland form an advisory committee to develop data on pesticide use. Most recently, Falmouth has begun its work to study and develop a pesticides ordinance.

LD 1505 would void all 27 ordinances and revoke the authority of towns – like Portland and Falmouth – to pass future ordinances related to pesticides. This Committee should not sanction this infringement on the broad “home rule” powers granted to cities and towns by the Maine Constitution.

In light of the alarming increase in pesticide use, Maine cities and towns are leading the way by passing ordinances that limit pesticide use, in ways that safeguard public health, safety and welfare, and protect natural resources.<sup>7</sup> There are no state or federal laws in place that provide comparable protections.

Please keep these municipal ordinances in place. Please encourage continued protections for our children and for our environment. Please vote that LD 1505 ought not to pass. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Ivy Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper, Friends of Casco Bay

CC: Rebecca Harvey, Clerk

<sup>1</sup> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_pesticides (citing scientific studies at notes 5 and 6).
<sup>2</sup> http://www.panna.org/human-health-harms/children.
<sup>3</sup> www.hiveandhoneyapiary.com/Honeybeesandpesticides.html.
<sup>4</sup> https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/WillapaBay.pdf.
<sup>5</sup> http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2014/20140609_mosquitoinsecticide.html.
<sup>6</sup> https://ctmirror.org/2012/07/10/pesticides-found-li-sound-lobsters-first-time-more-study-planned/.
<sup>7</sup> 22 MRS § 1471-A (stating intent of law to ensure pesticides are applied safely to protect public and
environmental health)

Friends of Casco Bay testimony opposing LD 1518 to the extent it seeks to enact 22 MRSA § 1471-CC

April 22, 2019

Senator Jim Dill
Representative Craig Hickman
Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony opposing LD 1518 to the extent it seeks to enact 22 MRSA § 1471-CC

Dear Senator Dill, Representative Hickman and Distinguished Members of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry,

Please accept the following as the testimony of Friends of Casco Bay opposing LD 1518 to the extent it seeks to enact 22 MRSA § 1471-CC. Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting marine water quality.

We regret being unable to appear in person and respectfully request that you consider our written testimony in your deliberations regarding LD 1518: An Act to Establish a Fund for Portions of the Operations and Outreach Activities of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and To Increase Statewide Enforcement of Pesticide Use.

Embedded in this bill about the UME Cooperative Extension Lab is an unrelated rider intended to restrict or eliminate municipal home rule. That rider is Section 3, which would enact 22 MRSA § 1471-CC:

A political subdivision of the State that wants to eliminate use in the political subdivision of a pesticide registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shall submit a request to eliminate use of the pesticide to the board. The board shall determine whether the pesticide should be further regulated based upon the board’s expertise in toxicology and available scientific information relating to the adverse environmental, health and other effects of the pesticide under Title 7, section 610, subsection 1. The board’s review must include participation of the officers of the political subdivision and board staff
and may include experts and other interested parties as the board determines appropriate.

We strongly oppose this unrelated rider and request that LD 1518 be amended to strike Section 3.

In support of our testimony opposing Section 3 of LD 1518, we have attached testimony that we submitted to the State and Local Government Committee in 2017 and 2018 opposing similar attempts to limit or eliminate municipal home rule to regulate pesticide use. Our prior testimony highlights research we conducted between 2001 and 2009. We collected rainwater flowing into Casco Bay and analyzed it for a suite of pesticides to determine “presence” or “absence” of pesticides. Lab results identified 10 different pesticides in 14 locations around Casco Bay. We detected the following six toxic pesticides:

  • 2, 4-D: banned in five countries, this herbicide is toxic to aquatic invertebrates and may be linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in humans
  • Clopyralid: this herbicide has been linked to birth defects in animals
  • Diazinon: banned from being sold to U.S. consumers but still legal for use, this insecticide has a high aquatic toxicity and is linked to reproductive problems
  • Dicamba: found in groundwater throughout the U.S., this herbicide is toxic to fish and zooplankton
  • MCPP: along with 2, 4-D, this herbicide is in the same family of chemicals as Agent Orange and is highly toxic to bay shrimp
  • Propiconazole: this fungicide is a possible carcinogen

Current state law does little to restrict the use of pesticides, and as a result, pesticide use has surged.

Fortunately, Maine’s Constitution grants Home Rule to municipalities.1 Home Rule allows municipalities to exercise any power or function that the Legislature confers upon them, and that is not denied expressly or by clear implication.2 With respect to pesticide ordinances, the Legislature requires a municipality to notify the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) when it intends to adopt an ordinance. The law also requires municipalities to conduct considerable public process before adopting ordinances.3 Of Maine’s nearly 500 municipalities, only 29 have enacted pesticide ordinances, and all are carefully crafted to improve localized public health and safety.4 None of the ordinances out-right ban the use of pesticides.

For example:

  • Brunswick prohibits use or storage of most pesticides other than for households and agriculture within the aquifer protection zone. The town also prohibits aerial applications other than public health applications performed under the auspices of the Town or State. Exceptions may be approved by Codes Enforcement Officer.
  • Harpswell prohibits the use of the insect growth regulators (IGRs) diflubenzuron and tebufenozide and the aerial application of all IGRs and any insecticide whose product label indicates that it is harmful to aquatic invertebrates [for example, lobsters]. The town also restricts the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.
  • South Portland curtails the use of pesticides for turf, landscape and outdoor pest management.

These examples highlight that existing law works well to ensure municipalities engage in a thoughtful process and tailor pesticide ordinances to meet local needs. Section 3 of LD 1518 usurps municipal home rule and should not be enacted.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee recommend that LD 1581 ought not to pass as written. If the Committee does decide to consider the remainder of this bill, we respectfully request that LD 1518 be amended to strike Section 3.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,
Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

1 Maine Constitution, Art. VIII, pt. 2, § 1.
2 CMP v. Town of Lebanon, 571 A.2d 1189, 1192 (ME 1990); 30-A MRSA § 3001.
3 See e.g. 30-A MRSA §§ 3001 et seq.
4 https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/public/municipal_ordinances.shtml.

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 1284: An Act to Create the Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species

April 2, 2019

Senator Miramant
Representative McCreight
Marine Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333
MAR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1284: An Act To Create the Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species

Dear Senator Miramant, Representative McCreight, and Distinguished Members of the Marine Resources Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter in full support of LD 1284: An Act To Create the Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species. Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting the health of Casco Bay. We have been monitoring the health of the Bay for nearly 30 years. We also have played a leadership role in Maine’s efforts to address the impacts climate change on the marine environment.

Based on our data and the data of colleagues, we know Maine’s marine waters are changing fast due to climate change. Those changes are harming our marine species. We must act now to slow the rate of change, understand what we can save through adaptation, and prepare for some inevitable losses. LD 1284 provides a comprehensive framework to achieve these goals.

LD 1284 was born out of a meeting last November hosted by the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership1 and attended by many of Maine’s top marine researchers, DEP and DMR staff, members of the original ocean acidification study commission formed by the legislature in 2014,2 about 20 members of Maine’s coastal caucus, commercial fishermen and sea farmers, and others. Friends of Casco Bay helped organize the meeting. The group discussed what we had learned since 2014 and what actions we need to take now. Their two recommendations were to: (1) create an advisory council on the impacts of climate change on Maine’s marine species and (2) create an action plan to bridge the gap between the 2014 study commission and now. MOCA is working on a proposed action plan that we hope will inform the work of the marine advisory council.

It is up to this Legislature to create the recommended advisory council. It may do so with this Marine Resources Committee’s recommendation that LD 1284 ought to pass as written or ought to be incorporated into the Governor’s climate change council structure. The text of LD 1284 was developed by Representative Blume with the aid of MOCA. Its scope and format flow from work since 2014 and recommendations of some of the state’s top marine scientists. Governor Mills’s proposed climate change council is intended to include subcommittees on marine and coastal environments and on science. We have been told that many elements of LD 1284 have been incorporated into the Governor’s proposed council bill, but have not yet seen it.

The most important consideration for this Committee is to ensure that the intent of LD 1284 is not diluted or ignored. The impacts of climate change on our iconic marine waters and species are here and must be addressed now. The necessary science must be done by researchers with expertise in monitoring marine environments. Policies must be designed by marine experts that contemplate impacts on our fisheries and those who depend upon them.

By way of example, here are some ways climate change is impacting Maine’s marine waters and fisheries:

  • About a third of all carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is absorbed by the ocean where it mixes with sea water to form carbonic acid, lowering the pH of the ocean. This is ocean acidification and is evident in Casco Bay where pH dropped from 8 to almost 7.8 from 2000-2012. The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that a decrease of an integer value changes the concentration by a tenfold. Lower pH can cause mollusk shells—including clams, oysters, and mussels—to pit and dissolve.
  • Precipitation in Maine has increased six inches since 1895, and we have more intense storms that deliver excess nitrogen to our waters. The nitrogen fuels algal and phytoplankton blooms. The blooms have immediate negative impacts on marine species. For example, we have seen thick mats of nuisance algae smother clams. In addition, as blooms die, they release carbon dioxide which mixes with sea water to create carbonic acid. This is coastal acidification and also lowers the pH of our coastal waters.
  • The temperature of Casco Bay rose about 1 degree Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1993 to 2018. Warmer ocean temperatures mean that green crabs are not dying back over winter. The higher populations of green crabs prey on soft-shelled clams and other mollusks. They also demolish eelgrass beds, a critical marine habitat. Rising ocean temperatures also cause shifts in species and can contribute to an increase in lobster shell disease
  • In 2016, we began measuring the amount of calcium carbonate available for mollusks and other organisms to build their shells. We learned that for most of the year, there is not enough calcium carbonate in the water for shell-building.

We have attached our Bay Paper on Climate Change to provide more information on why we must act now.

Given that climate change already is harming marine species, we must create a climate change marine advisory council as a means to act now in a concerted and coordinated manner.

For the above reasons, we respectfully request that the Committee unanimously recommend that LD 1284 ought to pass. In the alternative, the Committee should ensure that LD 1284 is meaningfully incorporated into the Governor’s climate change council structure in a manner that does not dilute the intent of LD 1284.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy L. Frignoca

Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

 

To see this testimony attached as a PDF, click here. 

A call to action before Tuesday: make your voice heard

Photograph by Kevin Morris

Casco Bay needs your help! Please take a few minutes to let legislators know you are concerned about climate change and the health of Casco Bay.

On Tuesday, April 2, at 1 p.m., the Committee on Marine Resources of the Maine Legislature is holding a public hearing on a bill we strongly support: LD 1284, “An Act to Create the Science and Policy Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species.”

The bill will establish a council made up of legislators, scientists, resource harvesters, and other stakeholders, with a mission to evaluate the impacts of climate change on Maine’s marine species and to make statewide policy recommendations.

This bill moves Maine to action on addressing and adapting to climate change, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and other threats to the health of our coastal waters. We believe Maine must act now to protect coastal habitats and marine species.

We ask you to urge the Committee on Marine Resources to vote in favor of LD 1284. Let them know you are concerned about climate change and its impacts on Casco Bay and on all of Maine’s marine resources.

Please email the committee by Tuesday morning, April 2.

Committee Members to email:

For a quick and easy way to share your support click here to email the Committee Clerk at MAR@legislature.maine.gov,.

To email the committee members directly, can copy and paste these into the “to” line of your email. This will work better on some devices and email platforms than others.

MAR@legislature.maine.govDavid.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov, Dana.Dow@Legislature.Maine.gov, Eloise.Vitelli@legislature.maine.gov, Jay.McCreight@legislature.maine.gov, Robert.Alley@legislature.maine.gov, Pinny.Beebe-Center@legislature.maine.gov, Lydia.Blume@legislature.maine.gov, William.Faulkingham@Legislature.Maine.gov, Allison.Hepler@Legislature.Maine.gov, Sherman.Hutchins@Legislature.Maine.gov, Kathy.Javner@Legislature.Maine.gov, Genevieve.McDonald@Legislature.Maine.gov, Will.Tuell@legislature.maine.gov, Michael.Russo@Legislature.Maine.gov, Deirdre.Schneider@legislature.maine.gov

Add an subject, being sure to mention that you support LD 1284.

Here are suggested talking points for your email — we strongly recommend that you put these in your own words. Links below provide more information.

Dear Senator Miramant, Representative McCreight, and Members of the Committee on Marine Resources:

I am writing to you to urge you to vote in favor of LD 1284, “An Act to Create the Science and Policy Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species.”

Maine’s coastal waters are changing and changing quickly. Friends of Casco Bay has been tracking water temperatures for over 25 years. On average, the data show a 2.5° F increase in water temperatures since 1993.

About 30% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is being absorbed by the ocean. This is increasing the acidity of our marine waters and reducing the availability of the material (calcium carbonate) that clams, mussels, and other shellfish need to build their shells. Recent data indicate that for nearly half the year, levels of calcium carbonate in Casco Bay are not sufficient for shell-building.

Our marine heritage and economy depend upon healthy coastal waters. The Science and Policy Council that LD 1284 will create will help move Maine forward on addressing and adapting to changes that threaten our marine resources.

Thank you for your time and service to Maine.

Sincerely,

–Your name and town you live in

Once you have emailed the committee, please let us know by emailing me back at keeper@cascobay.org. I will be testifying at the hearing on Tuesday, and it would be great to know that we have your support.

Thank you for making your voice heard for Casco Bay!

 

More information:

We have a wealth of information about the impacts of climate change on Casco Bay: https://www.cascobay.org/climate-change-ocean-acidification-and-you/

LD 1284 was proposed by Representative Lydia Blume (York), who is a member of the Committee on Marine Resources. You can read the official language of the bill here.

LD 1284 has been selected by the Environmental Priorities Coalitiona group of 34 environmental organizations, as one of its five priority bills to address climate change in Maine.

As we shared with you at our Casco Bay Matters event, Governor Mills has proposed an all-encompassing Climate Change Council. Her proposal, which will be considered in separate legislation, will likely incorporate the council created by LD 1284 into a subcommittee of her omnibus council. We support the Governor’s plan and want to be sure that there is adequate focus on the marine environment — which is why it is so important that you make your voice heard on this issue.

Here is the official web page for the Committee on Marine Resources: http://legislature.maine.gov/committee/#Committees/MAR.

You can listen live to the hearing on Tuesday by clicking here: http://legislature.maine.gov/Audio/#206

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 559: Ac Act to Restore Regular Mapping of Eelgrass Beds in the State

March 1, 2019

Senator Carson
Representative Tucker
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: LD 559: An Act To Restore Regular Mapping of Eelgrass Beds in the State

Dear Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and Esteemed Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Please accept this letter as the testimony of Friends of Casco Bay in support of LD 559: An Act To Restore Regular Mapping of Eelgrass Beds in the State. Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our work involves science, advocacy, and engaging the community in efforts to protect our coastal waters.

We support LD 559 because eelgrass: (1) provides critical habitat for marine life; (2) is an indicator of clean, healthy marine water which is used to set limits in pollution discharge permits; and (3) mapping is relied upon by oil spill responders to make decisions about habitats to protect and/or restore after a spill.

Because of the importance of eelgrass, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) used oil spill response funds to hire an oil spill response coordinator who mapped each segment of the coast twice, once from 1992-1997, and again from 2001-2010. That position and funding no longer exist. Since then, only Casco Bay has been mapped, in 2013 and 2018. To fund this mapping, DEP took funds away from other monitoring efforts and solicited money from outside organizations. Such a model is not sustainable. Without funding for mapping, Maine is missing critical information needed to protect its valuable marine resources.

Eelgrass as Habitat:

Eelgrass grows in shallow marine environments with clear water and plenty of light. It forms a base of food production, provides shelter for juvenile fish, invertebrates and mollusks, and stabilizes unconsolidated sediments and shorelines.

Eelgrass as Indicator of Clean Water:

Eelgrass needs clean, clear marine water. If water is clouded with suspended solids or other pollutants, eelgrass dies off. If too much nitrogen from land sources, such as effluent pipes and stormwater pipes regulated under the Clean Water Act, flows into water near eelgrass, it grows less densely and looks slimy, as it will be covered with epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). This growth impedes the ability of eelgrass to photosynthesize.

Nitrogen pollution is a serious issue in nearshore environments. In addition to harming eelgrass, it fertilizes blooms of large mats of green algae on clam flats. We have seen this in coves of Casco Bay and in the Fore River which flows into the Bay. We have found that some of these blooms smother clams and other marine organisms, lower the pH of the sediments, and kill juvenile clams that get entangled in the algae when they try to settle onto the flats. Further, as these algal blooms die, carbon dioxide is released, which contributes to acidification of marine waters in the very areas relied upon as habitat by our valuable shellfish species.

DEP uses the health of eelgrass as an indicator of nitrogen pollution. If the receiving water near a wastewater discharge pipe has a concentration of .32 mg/l of nitrogen, then DEP examines nearby eelgrass beds to see if they are healthy. If the beds are thin and slimy in appearance, DEP determines whether the effluent from the discharge pipe could be contributing to the ill health. DEP can then limit the allowance for the amount of nitrogen that can be discharged from the pipe to restore water quality.

DEP cannot properly analyze and protect the health of our marine waters without the funds and staff to routinely map eelgrass beds.

Oil Spill Response:

In the event of an oil spill, the US Coast Guard, in coordination with other federal and state officials, sets up a command center and brings in trained experts to aid response. DEP’s maps are critical to these efforts. Eelgrass maps are used to make decisions regarding where to set out booms and can be used to make habitat restoration decisions.

Ought to Pass:

DEP should not have to cobble together resources for sporadic and incomplete mapping of eelgrass. DEP should be funded and staffed to provide on-going mapping of the entire coast in 5 years cycles. In this manner, DEP can best meet its regulatory obligations and protect our valuable marine waters. Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this committee unanimously recommend that LD 559 pass.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy Frignoca,

Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

Cc: Caleb Roebuck

 

To see this testimony as a PDF, click here.

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 430: An Act To Establish and Promote a System of Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares

February 25, 2019

Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 430: An Act To Establish and Promote a System of Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares

Dear Senator Deschambault and Representative Warren

Please accept this letter as the testimony of Friends of Casco Bay in support of LD 430: An Act To Establish and Promote a System of Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares. Friends of Casco Bay supports the legislation because, in addition to enhancing public safety, this solves an environmental problem that protects the health of our marine waters.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization founded in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our work includes science, advocacy, and community outreach. One issue that we, our members, and other commercial and recreational users of the Bay face is how to safely and properly dispose of expired marine flares.

Expired flares cannot be thrown out. They are a hazard class 1.4 explosive. They also contain toxic chemicals, including potassium perchlorate which can leach into ground water and cause health problems, especially to citizens with thyroid conditions. The only way to neutralize the perchlorate is to incinerate it at high temperatures. When subjected to high levels of heat, the potassium and chlorine in the perchlorate – KClO2 – remain bonded to become potassium chloride, an essentially harmless compound. The O2 separates from the potassium and chlorine and is released into the air as oxygen

Maine has no protocol for the disposal of expired flares. Some Mainers store boxes of expired flares in their garages and barns because they know they cannot discharge them or throw them out. Others, contrary to law, light them off over the ocean or throw them in the garbage where they create an explosive fire hazard.

LD 430 presents a common sense solution to these problems. It sets up targeted weeks for collection of expired marine flares and a safe system for collection with key collection points. It establishes education and messaging to inform the public of the need to properly dispose of flares and how to do so. We strongly believe that this common sense solution will solve an environmental problem in a costeffective and efficient manner.

In 2017, we supported LD 252, An Act To Improve Safety in the Disposal of Expired Marine Flares. The legislature passed the bill, but the Governor vetoed it. Since then, the State Fire Marshal has voluntarily directed his staff to collect, transport, and incinerate expired marine flares in its EPA-approved mobile incinerator. Under this system, each individual calls the Fire Marshal’s Office and that office dispatches trained staff to pick up the flares. While we remain deeply appreciative of these efforts, our volunteers have reported that this is not working well. The system appears to be overwhelmed by both the number of requests and the number of flares. LD 430 will address part of this problem by setting up targeted times and locations for collection.

The remainder of the problem requires additional resources – a second incinerator. We have been told that the Fire Marshal has a backlog of flares and would like another incinerator to keep up with demand. We support any fiscal note associated with this bill that will finance that purchase in whole or in part. Maine has 3,478 miles of coastline, and over 5,000 miles of coast if all of the island coastlines are included. Having two mobile incinerators to cover 5000 miles of coast is not excessive. This will allow the Fire Marshal to protect public safety as well as the health of our marine waters for years to come.

We urge you to vote that LD 430 ought to pass. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy Frignoca

Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

CC: Cynthia Fortier, Clerk

 

To see this testimony as a PDF, click here. 

Ocean Acidification, Climate Change, and You: A Casco Bay Matters Event

Climate change is affecting the health of Casco Bay faster than anyone could have predicted. Warming temperatures and increasing acidity threaten the ocean and the livelihoods of those who depend on the sea. Research is showing that changes in our coastal waters from climate change are putting lobstering, clamming, and aquaculture at risk.

Friends of Casco Bay invites you to attend Ocean Acidification, Climate Change, and You, a free event, open to all.

Staff scientist Mike Doan will talk about the warning signs we see in our monitoring data. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca will share some of the impacts to our marine species and how Mainers are working together to respond to these threats. They look forward to your questions following the presentation.

Healthy marine waters are vital to Maine’s economy and quality of life.This is such an important issue that we are hosting this presentation at three locations in the coming weeks: Portland, South Portland, and Brunswick.

Ocean Acidification, Climate Change, and You

Come to the event nearest to you, or all three!

Weather cancellations will be posted here on this page on our website, and our Facebook event page.

All events are free and open to the public.

Portland Event

Monday, March 18, 2019
5:30 – 6:30 pm
Portland Public Library,
5 Monument Way, Portland, ME 04101

Add to Calendar

Please note: this date was listed incorrectly in the Forecaster. March 18 is the correct date.

South Portland Event

Monday, March 25, 2019
5:30 – 6:30 pm
Southern Maine Community College,
Jewett Hall, 77 Fort Rd, South Portland, ME 04106

Add to Calendar

Brunswick Event

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
5:30 – 6:30 pm
Curtis Memorial Library,
23 Pleasant St, Brunswick, ME 04011

Add to Calendar

You can see our Bay Paper on these topics here.

Cover photograph by Kevin Morris

Casco Baykeeper Boat trip

Can a boat change perspectives?

Casco Baykeeper Boat trip
Taking our partners out on the Bay provides them with a different perspective on problems that affect the health of Casco Bay. Photo courtesy: Beth and Steve Westra

We are fortunate to have several platforms and partners to help our work to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We’ll be highlighting each one in the coming weeks. One of those platforms is our Baykeeper Boat.

Our Baykeeper boat is where science, policy, and public engagement converge. As a marine organization, we are on or by the Bay year-round, and we take others there, too, to see the threats to the health of the Bay firsthand.

Our Research Vessel Joseph E. Payne provides a safe, reliable platform to conduct scientific studies, bring stakeholders together to work for clean water, and reach out to those who care about the health of the Bay. This 28-foot Baykeeper boat provides a water-level view of issues such as stormwater runoff and combined sewer pipes that disgorge polluted water into the Bay, suspicious algal blooms never detected here before, coastal flooding from sea level rise and historic storms, and a working waterfront clogged with toxic sediments that displace boat berths.

We convene floating meetings of policy makers from different departments and agencies to foster new working relationships and new approaches to issues we all care about. We provide an alternative perspective, all too rare, to examine issues that threaten the health of the Bay, from being on the Bay itself. We bring government officials and regulators, including staff from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Casco Bay municipalities. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca says, “Many of our concerns are best understood from the water.”

We guide reporters, film crews, and donors around the Bay to show them the resource we all are responsible for protecting.

The Joseph E. Payne is foremost a research vessel, from which we monitor the health of our waters, study how acidification may be impacting our marine resources, assess new technologies for measuring nitrogen and sampling for microplastics, and follow up on reports of pollution, nuisance algal blooms, and other threats to the health of the Bay.

July 26—The Day the Poop Hit the Bay

Out and About with the Casco Baykeeper

On July 26, 1.69 million gallons of partially-treated wastewater overflowed from Portland’s East End Sewage Treatment Facility into Casco Bay. This story made the news and captured our attention. That same day, 9.85 million gallons of combined sewer overflows (CSOs), containing raw sewage and toxic chemicals, also entered the Bay. Not a single news outlet reported that fact.

So while swimmers—especially those preparing for the Peaks to Portland Swim—worried about the impact of the partially-treated discharge from the East End plant (wastewater that had already had solids removed and been chlorinated to kill bacteria), we worried about the close to 10 million gallons of a far more toxic slurry that entered the Bay.

On that day, the combined sewer overflow at Mackworth Street discharged 824,000 gallons of untreated water and the CSO at Dartmouth Street discharged 833,000 gallons into Back Cove. The India Street CSO discharged 415,000 gallons and the Long Wharf CSO released 563,000 gallons of untreated water into Portland Harbor.

Polluted water gushes into Casco Bay from a combined sewer overflow beneath Portland’s busy waterfront.
Photo credit: Dave Laliberte

What is a Combined Sewer Overflow?
Combined sewer systems are relics of the past that we are still using today. In Portland and many cities across the county, these systems were designed to collect—and combine— sewage and stormwater in the same pipes. Most of the time, the pipes transport all the collected wastewater to a sewage treatment plant, where it is treated and then discharged into a body of water. But when we experience heavy rains or snowmelt, the runoff entering the system exceeds the capacity of the pipes. When the pipes fill to certain levels, these antiquated systems are designed to dump a mix of stormwater, untreated waste, toxic materials, and debris directly into the ocean, or into nearby streams and rivers that flow into the Bay.
 
 
 

These periodic discharges are far more concerning to us than a one-time breach at the East End facility. For over 25 years, Friends of Casco Bay has been pushing the City to eliminate these combined sewer overflows. We are very supportive of Portland’s current work to separate combined pipes, build storage tanks, and eliminate CSOs. Over the next two years, as Casco Baykeeper, I will represent Friends of Casco Bay as a member of the stakeholder team that helps shepherd a process called integrated planning, which will enable the City to meet these objectives efficiently and in ways that best improve water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency created the integrated planning approach to help municipalities such as Portland meet multiple Clean Water Act requirements by identifying efficiencies from separate wastewater and stormwater programs and sequencing investments so that the highest priority projects come first. This approach can also lead to more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, such as green infrastructure, that improve water quality and provide multiple benefits that enhance community vitality.

We will continue to participate, as we have for over 25 years, to help ensure that these combined efforts achieve more effective and timely improvements in water quality in Casco Bay.

 

What you can do to reduce stormwater and sewage pollution

  • Support communities’ efforts to upgrade their wastewater and stormwater systems.
  • Employ “green solutions” to reduce stormwater runoff from our own properties:
    • install permeable pavement on driveways and patios, so water percolates into the soil below
    • reduce the size of the lawn; plant shrubs and ground cover, which hold water better then turf
    • use rain barrels to catch runoff from roofs
    • Boaters should use shoreside bathroom facilities or pumpout services to keep raw sewage out of the Bay.
      Our pumpout boat operates from Memorial Day to Halloween. Contact pumpout [at] cascobay [dot] org.