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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.

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

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

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 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. 

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

March 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eelgrass as Habitat:

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

Eelgrass as Indicator of Clean Water:

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

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

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

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

Oil Spill Response:

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

Ought to Pass:

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

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy Frignoca,

Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

Cc: Caleb Roebuck

 

To see this testimony as a PDF, click here.

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

February 25, 2019

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

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

Dear Senator Deschambault and Representative Warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Ivy Frignoca

Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

CC: Cynthia Fortier, Clerk

 

To see this testimony as a PDF, click here.