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Many eyes keep watch on Casco Bay

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca is our watchdog on the health of the Bay. She is on or along the water as much as possible, even in her spare time. But she can’t be everywhere. Ivy says, “We rely upon our volunteers to be our extra eyes on the Bay. Increasingly, volunteers are joining me in using the Water Reporter app to share what they are seeing. These reports make a difference!” Over the span of a year, more than 190 volunteers have made 837 posts about the Casco Bay Watershed.

Here are some examples:

A Water Reporter captured a potential pollution incident–a large accumulation of fish scales in the water. The posting, complete with the time, location, and photo, led to action by a state agency to stop discharges of fish processing wastewater into the Fore River.

In keeping with our focus on climate change, we encourage volunteers to use Water Reporter to monitor sea level rise. Chronicling King Tides, the highest tides of the year, gives us a glimpse of the future. The photos document current coastal flooding, such as submerged streets and eroding beaches. These images help us all visualize what the “new normal” high tides may look like as sea levels continue to rise, such as the disappearing beach at Winslow Park, Freeport, on August 4 and the pier at Little Diamond island on the same date.


Says Ivy, “Water Reporter is a two-way conversation about protecting Casco Bay.” For example, a Water Reporter post on July 10th caught the attention of Angie Brewer of the Marine Unit staff at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP staff went out to investigate themselves. Here’s the post and the exchange with a Water Reporter that followed. Click on the image to be taken to the Water Reporter website for easier reading.


Another DEP staff person, Wendy Garland, Nonpoint Source Program Coordinator, asked for more details after spotting a post by our summer intern Alexis Burns who regularly monitored algae growth at several sites around South Portland last summer.

You can join our Water Reporter network to share observations of things you are seeing on the Bay, both good and bad, all year long. The more of us who are keeping watch on the health of the Bay, the better protected our waters will be.

Ivy Frignoca appointed to the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council

Friends of Casco Bay’s Ivy Frignoca appointed to the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council

On September 26th, Governor Janet Mills officially launched the Maine Climate Council. She challenged the 39 members of the Council, and the many others who will serve on its subcommittees and working groups, to create a climate change action plan to make Maine a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the people she was speaking directly to was Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca, who had been appointed to the Coastal and Marine Working Group.

“Casco Bay is already experiencing the impacts of climate change,” said Ivy, “including warming waters, increasing acidity, more nuisance algal blooms, and changes in water chemistry that make it harder for shellfish to grow their shells.”

The Maine Climate Council and its working groups will be meeting monthly through next summer. Collectively, they will develop an action plan for the next four years with strategies to understand, mitigate, and adapt to climate change. The report will be submitted to the Governor in December 2020, as required by the bill passed last session, An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council.

“It’s time to roll up our sleeves and act. This Council is not just producing a report that will sit on a shelf somewhere. The statute demands action to address climate change,” responded Ivy. “We applaud our Governor and the bipartisan Climate Council tasked with creating an action plan to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to inevitable climate change.”

Bill Mook, founder of Mook Sea Farm and one of the Council members, echoed that sentiment, “Problems are the raw materials of innovation.”

Said Cathy Ramsdell, Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay, “We are honored that our chief advocate has been asked to serve on the newly-created council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group. Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca has been instrumental in helping to create and guide the all-volunteer network, the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership, which presaged the Governor’s Climate Council. As climate change threatens our oceans, Friends of Casco Bay will continue to shine the spotlight on ways we all can work together to protect the health of this shared resource.”

And how is your summer going?

Summer is going swimmingly here at Friends of Casco Bay, and we have a lot of good news to share:

  • Our priority legislative bill to create a state-level Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Council was incorporated nearly word-for-word into the Governor’s comprehensive Climate Change Council bill. An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council passed with strong bipartisan support. In recognition of her yeoman’s work on this issue, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca was invited to attend the bill signing by Governor Janet Mills on June 26th.

 

  • Our water quality sampling season is well underway, as we continue to add to our long-term dataset at 22 shoreside and deepwater sites around the Bay. You may see Research Associate Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy making the rounds by land and by sea every few weeks from April through October.

 

  • Photo by Kevin Morris

    Since early June, Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell has been attending bi-weekly meetings of the South Portland Fertilizer Working Group to assist the City in drafting a fertilizer ordinance.

 

  • July 20 marks the third anniversary of the launch of our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth. Our Monitoring Station is fondly nicknamed the “Cage of Science” because its high-tech sensors are housed inside a transformed lobster trap. The instruments measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, and carbon dioxide.
    Photo by Kevin Morris

    Together, they collect data once an hour, every hour, year round.  At this time of year, Mike has to scrape off a new array of marine hitchhikers whenever he hauls up the Cage of Science to download data.

 

  • ‘Tis the season to think about what not to put on your lawn! With five workshops behind her, Associate Director Mary Cerullo has scheduled another five BayScaping presentations for August and beyond. She is happy to talk with neighborhood groups about green yards and a blue Bay.

 

  • There has been such a demand by community groups to volunteer for coastal cleanups and storm drain stenciling projects that Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman and summer intern Alexis Burns have been very busy. They already have hosted seven events with 106 participants who collected an estimated 238 lbs. of trash and stenciled 238 storm drains!

 

  • Photo by Kevin Morris

    Our new pumpout boat, Headmaster, was launched on June 10th to pump raw sewage from the marine toilets of recreational boats. Captain Jim Splude, our congenial pumpout boat coordinator, can go about his business more efficiently now with a new boat that has more than twice the holding capacity of the old one.

 

  • Our Water Reporter volunteer project is expanding as we hoped and planned. Nearly 40 enthusiastic volunteers attended our Water Reporter training on June 24. Volunteers continue to sign up to keep watch over specific areas of the Bay.
    July 10 was the first anniversary of Friends of Casco Bay’s launch of the Water Reporter app. To date, 162 volunteers in this observing network have made more than 500 posts. We call that a great start!

Maine takes a BIG step forward to address climate change

Photograph by Kevin Morris • Aerial support provided by LightHawk

We have good news to share: on June 19, 2019, the Maine Legislature passed LD 1679, Governor Janet Mills’ bill to establish the Maine Climate Council.

We fervently supported the Governor’s bill because it focuses on the root causes of climate change and recognizes that we must act now to remediate and adapt to inevitable change. The Governor’s bill incorporates many elements of a bipartisan bill that Friends of Casco Bay and the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership championed: LD 1284: An Act To Create a Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impacts of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species. Many Friends like you contacted the Legislature in support of that bill.

Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper and the coordinator of MOCA, says, “We could not be more excited about the Governor’s Climate Council bill. It takes on the herculean but necessary task of drastically reducing carbon emissions while setting up a council with subgroups of experts to help us address and adapt to inevitable changes. As the voice of Casco Bay, we strongly commend those portions of the bill that address the impacts of climate change — including ocean acidification — on Maine’s iconic marine resources.”

The Governor’s bill establishes six working groups, including a Coastal and Marine Working Group and a Scientific and Technical Working Group. We anticipate that many of the aspects of our collective efforts to address coastal and ocean acidification will be addressed by these groups. To aid that process, Friends of Casco Bay, as coordinator of MOCA, will meet with other partnership members this summer to create a marine climate change action plan. We look forward to sharing that plan with the Governor’s Council and will stand ready to serve as a resource to the Council.

Aquaculturists, resource harvesters, and lobstermen supported passage of this legislation. Bill Mook, owner of Mook Sea Farm, says “For those of us whose livelihoods are so tightly linked to a healthy environment, the passage of Governor Mill’s climate bill has rekindled hope. We must now show the rest of America how the path to a clean energy future will not only lead us to a healthier environment, but it will also take us to a vibrant, inclusive, and healthy economic future.”

Richard Nelson from Friendship, Maine, applauds the positive approach the state is taking on climate change, “As a lobsterman and, at times, spokesman for climate’s ill effects on the ocean’s realm, I would readily shed that position as harbinger and turn instead to being a participant in the real actions to combat it, as put forth in the Governor’s bill.”

The comprehensive bill sets tough goals to reduce Maine’s carbon footprint. It provides that by 2050, Maine must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and get 100% of our electricity from renewable sources. The bill sets a pathway for achieving the goals in a statewide plan in order to turn these targets into actions. At a time when the federal administration is resistant to exploring mitigation and resiliency efforts, Maine is joining a growing number of states taking the lead to address climate change to collectively make a difference.

Governor Mills is expected to have a signing ceremony for the bill soon, and the Climate Council will likely begin its work this fall.

Mike and Ivy on the Boat

Casco Bay Matters: Advancing the conversation—and action—on climate change

Mike and Ivy on the Boat

Living close to the ocean, Casco Bay residents are witnessing the effects of climate change happening here now: warming water temperatures, increasing ocean acidity, and more severe storms. We too are seeing the changes in our data and when we are out on the Bay.

From April through October, our Research Associate Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca are on the Bay frequently to monitor water quality, follow up on pollution reports, or meet with partners on issues best understood from the water. Their vigilance gives them a firsthand view of changes happening in our coastal waters.

Mike, Ivy, and Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell shared these and other observations in our first-ever Casco Bay Matters series. Nearly 400 people attended Ocean Acidification, Climate Change and You presentations about what we are learning about a changing Casco Bay.

They shared how Mainers are working together to shape policies and actions to respond to these threats. Ivy is coordinating the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership, a diverse coalition of scientists, lawmakers, aquaculturalists, and seafood harvesters, who collaborate on research and strategies to confront the threats that climate change and acidification pose to Maine’s marine resources. We also are working with legislators to pass a bill to create a state-sponsored Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species.

Video Recordings of Casco Bay Matters:

Casco Bay Matters Intro Video

If you missed our Casco Bay Matters presentations of Ocean Acidification, Climate Change and You, you are in luck — our stalwart volunteer Deb Dawson recorded and edited videos of our South Portland (March 25, 2019) event. See the series of three videos on our YouTube channel.

Highlights from Casco Bay Matters:

Warmer waters: Friends of Casco Bay has been tracking water temperatures for over a quarter century. On average, water temperatures in Casco Bay have risen 2.5°F (1.4°C) since 1993. The growth, reproduction, and survival of marine life are influenced by temperature.

Rising Water Temperatures in Casco Bay

More carbon dioxide in our coastal waters from air and from land: We know that burning fossil fuels adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, trapping heat and warming the planet. Nearly 30% of atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. Carbon dioxide mixes with water to form carbonic acid, making the water more acidic. This is ocean acidification.

Maine’s nearshore waters are also at risk from coastal acidification. Excess nitrogen from sewage treatment plants, polluted stormwater, and fertilizers can stimulate massive algal growth. When the algal blooms die, decomposition depletes the area of lifegiving oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, further acidifying the water.

Threats to the ocean food web: More carbon dioxide in our waters means less shell-building material (calcium carbonate) for clams, mussels, and planktonic creatures that support the ocean food chain. Data from our Continuous Monitoring Station enable us to calculate the calcium carbonate saturation state — what scientists term omega aragonite — which can tell us whether, at any given time, enough calcium carbonate is readily available to shell-building creatures. Shell formation becomes more difficult for some species when the amount of available calcium carbonate falls below a 1.5 aragonite saturation state.

Our data indicate that for part of the year, levels of calcium carbonate in Casco Bay fall below the threshold for optimal shell-building for some species.

Sea level rise: As water warms, it expands, and the seas encroach on our coastline. Coastal observers and property owners are reporting more erosion.

Increasing precipitation: Maine has seen a six-inch rise in average annual precipitation since 1895, further threatening coastal properties. Torrential rains intensify erosion and flush overloads of nitrogen, pollutants, and sediments into coastal waters.

Those who depend upon the sea can attest to the fast pace of change. What do these changes mean for Casco Bay?

  • As oceans become more acidic, we can anticipate more pitting or thinning of the shells of many commercially viable species in Casco Bay, such as clams, mussels, and oysters.
  • Voracious green crabs — which eat juvenile shellfish — thrive in warming waters.
  • Rising water temperatures are linked with shell disease in crustaceans, directly impacting Maine’s iconic lobster fishery.
  • Scientists and lobstermen are documenting lobster populations shifting north and east.
  • Copepods, tiny crustaceans that are the main food source for juvenile lobsters, may not be as plump as they once were. In laboratory experiments that simulate climate changes now happening in the Gulf of Maine, copepods were less fatty. With a less nutritious diet, young lobsters must divert energy from growth and resisting disease to finding enough food to survive.

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