Home » Baykeeping » Advocacy » Testimony

Category: Testimony

Testimony in Support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

May 7, 2021

Senator Stacy Brenner
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

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

Please accept this letter as Friends of Casco Bay’s testimony in support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise. The actions called for by this bill are critical to making our coastal communities and resources resilient to climate change.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization dedicated to improving and protecting the health of Casco Bay. We monitor water quality, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in our efforts.

We support LD 1572 because it requires state agencies that manage and regulate coastal land use, to review the laws and rules they administer and recommend changes to this Committee, by January 1, 2022, that:

  1. Incorporate consideration of 1.5 feet of relative sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet of relative sea level rise by 2100; and
  2. Implement “Strategy F3” in the state climate action plan.

With these changes, Maine law will have a forward-thinking lens that considers how our coast will look with sea level rise (SLR) and how it will be affected by more intense storms. With this perspective, we can be plan for change.

We must act now because our coastal communities already suffer the effects of SLR, higher tides, and more intense storms. Our Water Reporter network uses an app to photograph and document the effects of these changes. We have attached an example from a Water Reporter on Great Diamond Island. Our water quality data confirm that Casco Bay is receiving larger loads of stormwater pollution from more intense storms, including excessive nitrogen that is causing nuisance and harmful algal blooms and contributing to coastal acidification.

As Casco Baykeeper, I serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council (MCC) and helped form some of the recommendations proposed by LD 1572, which are more fully detailed in Strategy F3 of the state climate action plan and Appendix A of the Community Resilience Working Group report. That strategy requires the State to update its coastal land use regulations, laws, and practices by 2024, to set a foundation f municipalities revise their comprehensive plans and ordinances to meet changing conditions.

There’s no time for delay. The Science and Technical Subcommittee of the MCC has advised that Maine must commit to manage for 1.6 feet of SLR by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. They further advised that we must be prepared to manage for 8.8 feet of SLR by 2100. These levels of SLR, coupled with the Highest Astronomical Tide,¹ have staggering consequences:

  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, six of ten Maine waste water treatment facilities currently within the 100-foot floodplain will be permanently inundated.
  • With 1 foot of SLR, the frequency of nuisance flooding that already impacts coastal Maine will increase 10-15 fold, from an average of 14 hours to about 142 hours per year.
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 26 miles of coastal public roads, 6 miles of rail, and 977-1022 crossings and culverts will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 116 miles of roads, 23 miles of rail, and 1128-1180 crossings and culverts will be flooded. (ERG Summary, p. 11).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 61% of undeveloped dunes and 85% of developed dunes will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 93% of undeveloped dunes and 96% of developed dunes will be inundated. (STS Report, Table 17, p.99).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 43% of protective dry beach will be lost, and with 3.9 feet of SLR, 74% of dry beach will be lost. (STS Report, Table 15, p. 98).

If we do not revise our laws now, we will not have the guidance we need to properly site or modify infrastructure, protect working waterfronts, and adapt our coastal communities. Without management that considers shifts in habitat, we will lose valuable resources.

Friends of Casco Bay requests that this Committee unanimously recommend that LD 1572, A Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise, Ought To Pass.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

¹ As referenced by the Maine Geological Survey, the Highest Astronomical Tide is the elevation of the highest
predicted astronomical tide expected to occur at a specific tide station over the National Tidal Datum Epoch.

Your Voice is Needed! Rising seas in Casco Bay

Casco Bay needs your voice!

A crucial bill is making its way through the Maine Legislature: “LD 1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise.” We hope you will lend your voice in support of this bill.

This bill will require state agencies to incorporate sea level rise and other climate change factors into Maine’s coastal land use laws, a top recommendation of the Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan. Even with reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, scientific consensus predicts Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Without planning and action, rising seas will permanently flood coastal wastewater treatment plants, roads, beaches, and sand dunes, which could cost up to $17.5 billion in damages by 2050.

We can take measures to minimize this harm if we revise our coastal laws, site and build infrastructure differently, and employ natural solutions such as living shorelines. LD 1572 provides a roadmap for Maine to take action to mitigate and adapt to rising seas.

The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on LD 1572 on May 7 at 9 a.m. It is important that the Committee hear from you.

What you can do:

Submit written testimony in favor of LD 1572 to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, via the Maine Legislature’s Testimony Submission and Sign-up page. This testimony page can be confusing, so we have included below detailed instructions for submitting testimony.*

Here are a few talking points you may want to include in your testimony (it would be best if you could put these into your own words):

Dear Senator Stacy Brenner, Representative Ralph Tucker, and the Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee:

I am writing to ask that the Environment and Natural Resources Committee vote that LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise, ought to pass because:

  • Seas are rising. Scientific consensus predicts Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Maine’s coast will see increases in nuisance flooding, loss of coastal habitats and beaches, and inundation of coastal infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment plants, roads, culverts, and crossings.
  • Flooding and storms are surging. 1-foot of sea level rise alone is projected to result in a 15-fold increase in nuisance flooding, and climate change is expected to increase the frequency of “100-year” storms to occur once every 10 years. These impacts will cause substantial disruptions for coastal communities and the fishing, tourism, and port industries that support them.
  • Coastal ecosystems may drown. 1.6-feet of sea level rise is anticipated to submerge 67% of Maine’s coastal sand dunes, reduce our dry beaches by 42%, and devastate saltmarshes. All three of these ecosystems provide invaluable ecosystem services and economic benefits to our communities.
  • Economic consequences will be staggering. 3.9-feet of sea level rise is estimated to cause over $671 million in cumulative building losses and $665 million in gross domestic losses in Maine. Economists hired by the Maine Climate Council predict that by 2050, Maine’s coastline will sustain damages of up to $17.5 billion if we do not adapt now.
  • We can’t wait. LD 1572 will enable us to make our communities resilient now before the worst impacts of sea level rise affect our coast.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

If you need help submitting your testimony through the Maine Legislature’s website you can reach out to our Staff Writer, Robby Lewis-Nash, for help [email robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org or call (413) 695-3306].

Thank you for using your voice to help protect the health of Casco Bay.

Ivy Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

*Instructions for submitting testimony
To submit written testimony, you must use the same online form as signing up to testify live. The language on the page does not make this clear that the form allows you to submit your written testimony and provides the option to sign up to testify live. The numbered steps below correspond with the red arrows in the photo.

1. To submit testimony, first select “public hearing” as the type of hearing.

2. Then select “Environment and Natural Resources Committee.”

3. Select May 7 at 9 a.m., the date and time when the LD 1572 hearing is scheduled.

4. You will then have the option to select LD 1572 as the bill you want to submit testimony for.

5. You can write your comments directly into the form, attach the file of your written testimony, or copy-and-paste your words into the form.

6. You will then need to put your name and contact information into the form.

7. Check the “I am not a robot” box.

8. Finally, click the “submit/register” button.

Here’s a visual overview of the eight step process.

Implementing Maine’s climate plan helps Casco Bay

Climate change threatens the health of Casco Bay. In March, more than 335 Friends of the Bay joined us for Sea Level Rise, Storms, and Surge Oh My! and told us the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms are a top concern.

We agree.

With climate change being such a large issue, to protect Casco Bay and the communities that depend on it, we need effective policies at the state level.

Friends of Casco Bay has worked hard to help ensure threats to our coastal waters were addressed in Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s climate action plan.

Now, we are supporting legislation to implement the plan and its strategies. Through collaborative efforts, such as the Environmental Priorities Coalition, we are supporting efforts designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find solutions to impacts of climate change.

For Casco Bay, here are three climate-related bills we support:

LD 1572, Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

This bill requires state agencies to incorporate sea level rise and other climate factors into Maine’s coastal land use laws. Current laws do not take into account the scientific consensus that Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Without thoughtful planning and action, rising seas will permanently flood numerous coastal wastewater treatment plants, roads, culverts and crossings. A public hearing for this bill is scheduled for May 7. Stay tuned for more information about how you can use your voice to help protect the Bay!

LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise.

This bond would provide $50 million to address sea level rise through improvements to municipalities’ waterfront and coastal infrastructure. Access to these funds will help towns and cities leverage other funding to relocate, modify, or overhaul existing infrastructure. See our testimony on this issue here.

LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation
This bond proposal would provide $80 million over a period of 10 years to purchase coastal land for the public. Lands purchased will conserve critical coastal habitats and ensure public access to Maine’s coast — after all, Casco Bay belongs to everyone. See our testimony on this issue here.

State action is only one piece of the climate change puzzle. We look forward to sharing more about what local communities around the Bay are doing to mitigate and address climate change. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on our work, we love hearing from you.

Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay.

LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

April 26, 2021

Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

RE: LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

Dear Senator Breen, Representative Pierce, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation, and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation. We support both bills but believe the funding and longer time frame set forth in LD 983 will best help Maine become resilient to climate change through conservation and will best achieve environmental justice by helping to ensure access to our natural resources.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters.

Our data show that Casco Bay is changing because of climate change. As a member of the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, we strongly advocated for measures to conserve valuable marshes and other coastal habitats necessary to sustain marine life, provide carbon storage to reduce our carbon footprint, and serve as buffers from storm surges and sea level rise. We also supported recommendations to protect working waterfront and promote the survival of our rich maritime economy.

Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) funds already have conserved vital lands along the shores of Casco Bay and ensured public and commercial access to our waters. For example, LMF funds financed the purchase of .77 acres at Holbrook’s Wharf in Harpswell. We have just deployed a continuous monitoring station off that wharf that will collect data every hour of every day, for years to come. These data allow us to track changes in water chemistry, including, but not limited to, temperature, salinity, pH, and the amount of calcium carbonate available for shell formation. There are few public access places in eastern Casco Bay where we can monitor water quality, so this site is critically important to our work. Moreover, the wharf is a vital and busy community hub, where we often see lobstermen, tourists and locals.

LMF funds also purchased public land at Mere Point in Brunswick, which allows deep water boat launching and recreational use. We monitor water quality seasonally at Mere Point. We frequently see boats launched for fishing or oyster farming, wormers digging on the flats, and families enjoying picnics and recreational boating. Again we rely upon this public access to do our own work, which in turn protects the health of the Bay for all users.

LMF must be funded at sufficient levels for the long term. As the “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan acknowledges, we must conserve and rely upon our natural resources to help us be resilient to climate change. We must preserve access to those resources to protect our way of life, which relies upon nature for sustenance and solace.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee support strong and long term funding for LMF.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise

Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

April 26, 2021

RE: LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise

Dear Senator Breen, Representative Pierce, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise. This bond would provide $50,000,000 in funding to improve waterfront and coastal infrastructure in municipalities to address sea level rise.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters.

Our data confirm that the biggest threat to the health of Casco Bay is climate change. We serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group (CMWG) of the Maine Climate Council (MCC), and whole-heartedly agree with the MCC that we must act quickly to curb the causes and be resilient to the consequences of climate change. The “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan is based upon sound science and calls for swift action. The plan recognizes that municipalities will need technical and financial assistance to implement resilience solutions. The funding must occur now so that timely changes can be made to address current consequences and prepare for the future. Sea level rise (SLR) poses one of the biggest and most visible threats to our coastal communities.1 In our recent program, “Sea Level, Storms and Surges, Oh My,” attended by about 350 participants, Mainers identified SLR and its impacts on both built and natural environments as their top coastal concern. (See footnote 1 below.)

Based on projections calculated by the Science and Technical Subcommittee and adopted by the MCC, we must commit to manage for 3.9 feet of SLR and be prepared to manage for 8.8 feet of SLR by 2100. We likely will have 1.6 feet of
SLR by 2050.

If we couple those levels of SLR with the Highest Astronomical Tide,² the MCC projects that:

  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, six of the ten waste water treatment facilities currently within the 100 foot floodplain will be permanently inundated.
  • The nuisance flooding that already impacts coastal Maine will increase 10-15 fold with just 1 foot of SLR, increasing from average flooding of about 14 hours per year to about 142 hours per year.
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 26 miles of coastal public roads, 6 miles of rail, and 977-1022 crossings and culverts (ERG Summary, p. 11) will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 116 miles of roads, 23 miles of rail, and 1128-1180 crossings and culverts will be flooded (ERG Summary p. 11).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 61% of undeveloped dunes and 85% of developed dunes will be inundated. By 2100, 3.9 feet of SLR will inundate 93% of undeveloped dunes and 96% of developed dunes. (STS Report, Table 17, p.99).
  • In addition, 1.6 feet of SLR will inundate 43% of protective dry beach, and with 3.9 feet of SLR, we will lose 74% of dry beach. (STS Report, Table 15, p. 98).

The economic consequences of these changes will be staggering for municipalities. Economists hired by the MCC estimate that by 2050, Maine’s coastline will sustain damages of up to $17.5 billion. The costs to redesign or move wastewater treatment facilities, raise or relocate roads, move infrastructure in dunes, and replace and resize crossings and culverts will be staggering.

Yet, we continue to be a state that gravitates to coastal living and coastal livelihoods. Providing $50,000,000 now will provide municipalities with a chance to leverage additional funds so they can address current infrastructure failures related to SLR and prepare for a more resilient future.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully and ardently requests that this Committee support LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

¹ For an overview of the science behind SLR and the actions Maine must take, please watch
https://www.cascobay.org/rising-seas-and-storm-surges-in-casco-bay/.

² As referenced on the web page for the Maine Geological Survey, the Highest Astronomical Tide is the elevation of the highest predicted astronomical tide expected to occur at a specific tide station over the National Tidal Datum Epoch, or NTDE. The NTDE is a specific 19-year period adopted by the National Ocean Service as the official time segment over which tide observations are taken and reduced to obtain mean values (e.g., mean lower low water, etc.) for tidal datums. It is necessary for standardization because of periodic and apparent secular trends in sea level. The present NTDE is 1983 through 2001 and is actively considered for revision every 20-25 years.

Testimony in Support of LD 618 and 1023

March 23, 2021

Senator Stacy Brenner
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 618 and 1023

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

Please accept this letter as Friends of Casco Bay’s testimony in support of LD 618: An Act Regarding the Outdoor Release or Abandonment of Balloons and LD
1023: An Act to Define Intentional Balloon Releases as Litter. Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect and restore our coastal waters. Our volunteers clean the shores of Casco Bay and remove thousands of pieces of plastics each year. That plastic can include balloon debris.

Birds, turtles and marine mammals commonly mistake balloons for food. The tattered ends and floating pieces of balloons may resemble jellyfish or other prey of sea turtles, fish, and dolphins. When these bits and pieces are mistaken for food and ingested, they can lodge in the digestive tract of turtles, fish and marine mammals, causing a slow and painful death by starvation. Marine animals and coastal birds can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle or hurt them.¹

At least five states and two dozen municipalities, many of these coastal communities, have already banned outdoor balloon releases to eliminate the unintended but harmful consequences of these releases on wildlife.² Maine should follow suit and protect our valuable marine and coastal wildlife.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee review both LD 618 and 1023 and recommend that one of them or an amended bill that consolidates elements of each OUGHT TO PASS.

Thank you for considering our testimony.
Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

¹ https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/balloon-releases-are-killing-animals/.

² https://balloonsblow.org/balloon-laws/.

Testimony in Support of LD 514: An Act To Establish and Promote a System of Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares

March 22, 2021

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 514: 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 514: An Act To Establish and Promote a System of Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares. Friends of Casco Bay supports the legislation because it solves an environmental problem that threatens the health of our marine waters and because it enhances public safety.

Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our work includes science, advocacy, and community engagement. 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 causing potential harm to our marine waters or throw them in the garbage creating an explosive fire hazard.

LD 514 presents a common sense solution to these problems. It sets up a program for the convenient and safe collection of expired flares. It establishes education and messaging to inform the public of the need to properly dispose of flares and of how to do so. Finally, it creates a modest fee of 25 cents per flare to offset the cost of proper collection and disposal of expired flares, which must be collected and transported by trained personnel and burned up in EPA-approved incinerators. We strongly believe that this common sense solution will solve an environmental problem in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

We have supported prior versions of this bill and will continue to support the intent of this bill until its passage through the legislature. The State Fire Marshal tried voluntarily to collect, transport, and incinerate expired marine flares in its EPA-approved mobile incinerator. The State Fire Marshal Office’s mobile incinerator cannot handle the volume of flares that need to be incinerated, and this voluntary collection program has slowed. Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas reports that he now has a backlog of more than two tons of expired flares that have been collected and need safe disposal. The State Fire Marshal’s Office needs funding for a new incinerator and to cover the costs of transporting flares for proper disposal.

For the above reasons, we urge you to vote that LD 514 ought to pass. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy L. Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

CC: Deborah Fahey, Clerk

Testimony in Support of LD 593: An Act to Restore Regular Eelgrass Mapping in the State

March 05, 2021

Senator Stacy Brenner
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 593: An Act to Restore Regular Eelgrass Mapping in the State

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

Please accept this letter as Friends of Casco Bay’s testimony in support of LD 593: 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. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect and restore our coastal waters.

We wrote to you a year ago, in support of the predecessor of today’s bill, LD 559. Coast-wide eelgrass mapping is now even more important. This mapping is critical to achieving goals set forth in Maine’s Climate Action Plan, particularly strategies put forth by the Coastal and Marine Working Group (CMWG). This mapping is also necessary to Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) mandate to develop nutrient criteria for coastal Maine, a process they have just commenced.

As the Maine Climate Council and its working groups recognized, healthy eelgrass beds are a natural solution to shoreline erosion and flooding as they stabilize sediments and dissipate wave action. Moreover, eelgrass can capture and store high amounts of carbon, serving as a carbon sink or way to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions. By storing carbon in the near shore environment, eelgrass beds also buffer against ocean acidification which is detrimental to Maine’s valuable shellfish.

When you add these critical functions to the reasons we previously supported funding eelgrass mapping, we hope you will agree this work must occur and must be funded. Those prior reasons include that eelgrass: (1) is a federally-designated Essential Fish Habitat; (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.

Historically, 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 had to divert funds from other monitoring efforts and solicit additional funding from outside organizations. Such a model is not sustainable. Without funding for mapping, Maine is missing critical information it needs to protect its valuable coastal and marine resources. Without mapping, Maine cannot achieve goals set forth in its Climate Action Plan and be resilient to climate change. Without mapping, DEP is missing critical information it needs to set appropriate discharge limits in pollution discharge permits issued under its federally delegated authority.

Maine’s Climate Action Plan
The CMWG recommended that eelgrass be mapped, restored and protected as part of a blue carbon strategy and a nature-based solutions strategy. Both of these recommendations are in the Climate Action Plan. In relevant part, eelgrass and salt marsh grasses have a higher capacity to store carbon than our forests, although they are not as abundant. Conversely, if we allow our eelgrass beds to degrade, they will release carbon into the near shore environment and contribute to the acidifying of our coastal marine waters. Ocean acidification can cause problems for the development of larval shellfish, slow growth and pit shells. Eelgrass also serves as a natural solution to buffer our coastline from the impacts of more intense storms. Healthy, natural coastal environments, such as eelgrass beds have more capacity to absorb storm surge and hold sediments in place. Underlying these recommendations, the CMWG acknowledged the critical importance of eelgrass as an essential fish habitat and indicator of clean healthy water.

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 near shore 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, from South Portland to Harpswell. We have found that some of these blooms smother clams and other marine organisms, lower the pH of the sediment, and kill juvenile clams that get entangled in the algae when they try to settle onto the flats. In addition, as these algal blooms die, they release carbon dioxide 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 amount of nitrogen that can be discharged from the pipe to restore water quality. In January 2021, DEP convened stakeholders to develop Maine’s first set of coastal nitrogen criteria. This work occurs under a legislative resolve issued in 2007, and has been delayed by historic lack of funding and staffing to complete necessary work. One fundamental underlying basis for the criteria will be to set a threshold limit for the Greater Portland Harbor area, above which eelgrass cannot thrive. DEP cannot set this threshold limit without the funds and staff to routinely map eelgrass beds.

Eelgrass as Habitat:
Eelgrass is designated by the federal government as an Essential Fish Habitat. It grows in shallow marine environments with clear water and plenty of light. It forms a base of food production and provides shelter for juvenile fish, invertebrates and mollusks, including lobsters, winter flounder, and cod.

Oil Spill Response:
In the event of an oil spill, the US Coast Guard, in concert with other federal and state officials, sets up a command center and calls 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 restoration decisions.

Ought to Pass:
DEP should not have to cobble together resources for sporadic and incomplete mapping of eelgrass. It should be funded and staffed to provide on-going mapping of the entire coast on five year 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 593 ought to pass.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

Testimony in Opposition to LD 39, LD 108, and LD 244, which seek to repeal the plastic bag reduction law, 38 M.R.S.A. § 1611

February 22, 2021

Senator Stacy Brenner
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 39, LD 108, and LD 244, which seek to repeal the plastic bag reduction law, 38 M.R.S.A. § 1611

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in opposition to LD 39: An Act to Remove the Plastic Bag Ban, LD 108: An Act to Improve Public Safety by Repealing the Single-use Plastic Carry-out Bag Ban, and LD: 244: An Act to Repeal Maine’s Single-use Plastic Bag Law. These bills seek to repeal the plastic bag reduction law (38 M.R.S.A. § 1611) passed by the 129th Legislature with strong support and firm recognition of the harms plastic bags pose to human and environmental health. That law did not go into effect as intended, due to preliminary uncertainty about whether the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted via reusable bags. We now know that the spread of disease is uncommon through reusable bags, and the harm done by single-use plastic bags remains pervasive and severe.¹ The plastic bag reduction law is slated to be enforced this summer. Please do not repeal this much-needed ban before it even goes into effect.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization whose mission is to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of the Bay and use our data to inform our advocacy and community engagement. We engage our volunteers in coastal cleanups, and in recent years have tracked the debris they remove using the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program.² In 2019 alone, our volunteers and others removed over 1000 plastic bags from the shores of Casco Bay. This total does not account for the bags that were not cleaned up or that went unreported to the Trash Free Seas Program. These data illustrate a fraction of the problem caused by plastics pollution.

Plastics pollute our coastal waters and kill marine life. Plastic never degrades; once added to the ocean, it stays there forever. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals die each year from ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it.³ Plastics also litter our beaches, making them unattractive for tourism, to the detriment of Maine’s economy.⁴

Plastic bags harm human health.⁵ Plastics do not degrade, but can break into smaller and smaller particles, known as microplastics. These can end up in our drinking water and food.⁶ As plastics breaks down, they releases toxic substances,⁷ the cumulative effects of which can be substantial.⁸ These toxins are carcinogenic and contribute to developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders.⁹

Recycling plastic bags is not a solution. In 2018, for example, only 10% of plastic bags were recycled.¹⁰ That means, nationally, 3.8 million tons of plastic bags ended up in landfills or in our environment. Now, China has stopped recycling 700,000 tons annually of U.S. plastic refuse. As a result, more plastic waste is getting burned or put in landfills, increasing pollution from plastic particles and toxic substances.¹¹ The FDA and CDC do not promote single use plastic products to prevent the spread of COVID-19.¹² Dr. Benjamin Locwin, a CDC consultant, opined that “you . . . are almost at nil risk of getting a surface contact transmission of COVID-19.”¹³ The FDA Guidance on Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Delivery Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic recommends social distancing, washing and sanitizing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers.¹⁴ The Guidance does not mention threats posed by reusable bags, cups, cutlery or other reusable products.¹⁵

Conclusion
For the reasons set forth above, Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee vote that LDs 39, 108, and 244 Ought Not To Pass. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

¹ https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html

² https://www.coastalcleanupdata.org/

³ https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/.

⁴ https://www.mainebiz.biz/article/maine-fishing-industry-to-receive-201m-in-federal-aid.

⁵ https://business-ethics.com/2010/09/17/4918-plastic-grocery-bags-how-long-until-they-decompose/

⁶ https://blog.marinedebris.noaa.gov/clean-water-our-homes

⁷ https://www.ibanet.org/Article/NewDetail.aspx?ArticleUid=76F8D2A9-1A1D-4A2F-8A6F-0A70149FD4D5.

⁸ https://sites.psu.edu/taxtheplastic/statistics-3/

⁹ https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/marine-plastics

¹⁰ https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/frequent-questions-regarding-epas-facts-and#PlasticBags

¹¹ https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/13/702501726/where-will-your-plastic-trash-go-now-that-
china-doesnt-want-it

¹² https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/best-practices-retail-food-stores-restaurants-and-food-
pick-updelivery-services-during-covid-19

¹³ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKGDRAwIxPw&feature=youtu.be

¹⁴ https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/best-practices-retail-food-stores-restaurants-and-food-
pick-updelivery-services-during-covid-19

¹⁵ https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/best-practices-retail-food-stores-restaurants-and-food-
pick-updelivery-services-during-covid-19

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony neither for nor against LD 1942: An Act to Protect Water Quality by Prohibiting Consumer Fireworks in the Shoreland Zone. The bill should be strengthened

January 30, 2020

Senator Brownie Carson
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony neither for nor against LD 1942: An Act to Protect Water Quality by Prohibiting Consumer Fireworks in the Shoreland Zone. The bill should be strengthened

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

Friends of Casco Bay offers the following testimony and recommends that LD 1942: An Act to Protect Water Quality by Prohibiting Consumer Fireworks in the Shoreland Zone be strengthened. As written, LD 1942 restricts but does not prohibit the use of fireworks in the shoreland zone. Its language is actually less restrictive than protections in place in almost every community along the coast of Casco Bay.

For 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay. We monitor water quality to identify problem areas, and use our data to inform and support our advocacy. Our volunteer community helps us, by using a smartphone app to report pollution and track other water quality issues. Our volunteers also perform beach cleanups through the spring, summer, and fall. After July 4th celebrations, we receive photos and complaints of debris from fireworks in our waters and along our shores.

Municipalities around Casco Bay know that fireworks negatively impact the health of marine waters and wildlife, including disturbing sea birds and killing fish (if an explosion occurs in the water).

Almost every community that borders Casco Bay prohibits consumer firework displays or restricts them more than what is proposed in LD 1942.

  • Most Casco Bay shoreland communities prohibit all consumer
    fireworks: Brunswick, Bustins Island, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport, North Yarmouth, Portland, South Portland, and Yarmouth.
  • Other Casco Bay towns restrict fireworks to far fewer days than LD 1942: Cumberland, Harpswell, Long Island, and Scarborough (just outside Casco Bay). These towns only allow consumer fireworks on July 3-4 and December 31-January 1 for limited hours. LD 1942 allows consumer fireworks to be used in the shoreland zone during the calendar week that includes July 4th, from New Year’s Eve until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day.

The prohibitions and restrictions in place along Casco Bay exist for good reason. Fireworks cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours and days. The particles that fall to the ground (chemicals and actual physical pieces of waste) often contain propellant chemicals and colorants, which find their way into soil and water systems. These particles often include perchlorates, which are used to produce the oxygen needed for an explosion and known to be a source of water pollution. Some newer, ‘cleaner’ fireworks replace perchlorates with safer alternatives, or use compressed air to reduce smoke created.

LD 1942 should be strengthened to follow the lead of Casco Bay’s shoreland towns: All consumer fireworks should be prohibited in the shoreland zone.

Moreover, this committee should consider measures requiring permitted, non-consumer firework displays to use only newer, cleaner fireworks and to clean up debris from the land and waters
within 24-48 hours after a display. Those displays should be limited to certain hours on July 3-4 and December 31-January 1

.
Thank you for considering our testimony and the recommended amendments to LD 1942.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Office: (207) 799-8574 ext. 202
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org