It was a packed session at the 130th Maine Legislature this year. With no shortage of bills to be considered, Augusta has seen a flurry of activity over the past seven months – between the hundreds of bills that hit a dead-end when the pandemic arrived in Maine last spring, to all of the new policies proposed in the time since.
By the session’s close last week, Casco Bay and Maine’s environment won many substantial victories. These victories would not be possible without the passionate support of our members and volunteers, as well as the broader collection of environmental advocates, activists, and organizations across the state working toward an environmentally healthier future.
At Friends of Casco Bay, we are celebrating the passage of:
Sea Level Rise Resolve: LD 1572 will require state agencies to account for sea level rise projections and update coastal land use and planning laws to be more resilient to the future impacts of more intense storms and increased precipitation. That process will likely begin this fall. Thank you to all Friends of Casco Bay who submitted testimony in support of this bill.
Expired Marine Flare Disposal: LD 514 was passed and funded in order to establish a safe system for the disposal of expired marine flares and educate the public about this important safety and environmental issue. You can read more about the five-year odyssey it took to get this law in place here.
Eelgrass and Salt Marsh Mapping: LD 593 will restore state initiatives to map eelgrass beds and salt marsh vegetation up and down Maine’s coastline. This means that Casco Bay’s eelgrass beds and salt marshes will be mapped every five years! Eelgrass beds and salt marshes provide critical coastal habitat and valuable ecosystem services, including much needed carbon sequestration and storage.
Land for Maine’s Future: Several bills this session proposed bond funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program. In the end, the Governor added $40 million in program funding to the budget that passed the legislature. The Land for Maine’s Future program purchases and secures public access to outdoor spaces and resources, including coastal access points on Casco Bay that enable Friends to sample and monitor water quality.
Balloon Releasing Defined as Littering: LD 1023 redefines the intentional release of balloons as littering in a win for Maine wildlife. In Casco Bay, this means that it is less likely that marine wildlife and coastal birds can become entangled in balloon strings or mistake balloon debris for food, causing unintentional harm and even death.
Lastly, seven out of nine of the Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition’s (of which Friends is a member organization) priority bills were passed, including the sea level rise resolve and Land for Maine’s Future funding discussed above.
All in all, it was a big year at the legislature for Casco Bay!