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To B or not to B…that is the question for the Presumpscot

Photo provided by Michael Shaughnessy, Friends of the Presumpscot River.

The Presumpscot River is the largest tributary into Casco Bay. The healthier the river is, the healthier the Bay will be.

We have been working to upgrade the Clean Water Act classification for the lower Presumpscot River, which runs from Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook to head of tide, where the river turns salty before flowing into the Bay. Under the Clean Water Act, bodies of water are classified as Class AA, A, B, or C based on their health. Upgrading a body of water’s classification matters because it strengthens the legal protections it receives.

On February 28, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee of the Maine Legislature considered amending a sweeping water reclassification bill (LD 1964) to upgrade the lower Presumpscot from Class C to Class B status.

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca testified before the Committee. Her expert statement focused on the specifics of local discharge permits and water quality regulations, but her final comments spoke to the heart why this issue matters.

“I don’t know if any of you have been along the river lately, but I’ve been hiking it and I skied along it this weekend,” said Ivy. “There are eagles soaring and people enjoying it everywhere. What an amazing river! It went from the dirtiest little river segment in the state to the jewel it is today in Maine’s most urbanized area. This is the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Please, upgrade this segment of the river and preserve it for generations to come.”

Despite favorable scientific data and expert testimony from Ivy and others, the Committee did not approve the Presumpscot amendment. For now, the lower Presumpscot River will retain its status as Class C water.

The Committee’s decision largely hinged on a single data point. That data point showed that on one day last summer, for one fifteen minute increment, the lower Presumpscot dipped just below Class B dissolved oxygen standards.* How to interpret this data point is a judgment call. At Friends, we believe this data point is scientifically insignificant. Yet the Committee was concerned that if the lower Presumpscot were upgraded to Class B status, a dip like this one could trigger regulations that would impact the Sappi mill and the Westbrook wastewater treatment plant, which both discharge into the river.

As it became obvious that the Committee would not consider the Presumpscot amendment, Ivy met with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The Department agreed to collect more data from the lower Presumpscot in response to the Committee’s concern. We, too, plan on collecting data in this segment of the river. Gathering more data will help to further assess the lower Presumpscot’s health.

If the data show that the river continues to meet Class B standards, we will stand ready to help push for this important Clean Water Act upgrade next year.

If you were one of the many Friends who submitted testimony in support of the Presumpscot amendment, thank you. Our continued efforts to advocate for the river will be strengthened because legislators heard directly from you. We also want to thank our partners at Friends of the Presumpscot River for introducing the proposal to upgrade the lower Presumpscot, and the many other groups who wrote supporting testimony. You are all Friends of Casco Bay.

*Over the summer of 2021, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection deployed a data sonde in the lower Presumpscot and set it to collect data every 15 minutes. To meet Class B standards, the river must maintain dissolved oxygen levels at or above 7 parts per million (ppm) or 75% of saturation, whichever is higher. At all times, the dissolved oxygen saturation remained well above 75%. On or about July 2, one data point shows dissolved oxygen dipped for less than 15 minutes to 6.98 ppm. This slight dip is not cause for alarm. It is scientifically accepted that a 0.02 dip falls within the statistical margin of error.

Testimony in support of LD 1970, with amendment

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1970, An Act To Implement Agency Recommendations Relating to Sea Level Rise and Climate Resilience Provided Pursuant to Resolve 2021, Chapter 67 with Blume amendment

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following testimony in support of LD 1970, An Act To Implement Agency Recommendations Relating to Sea Level Rise and Climate Resilience Provided Pursuant to Resolve 2021, Chapter 67. We further support the amendment introduced by Representative Blume that clarifies that a “local climate action plan,” should: (1) include an evaluation of options for building resilience to natural hazards; and (2) be based on a vulnerability assessment that analyzes risks to protected natural resources, as that term is defined under the Natural Resource Protection Act.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor water quality and use data to inform how we act to keep the Bay healthy. Our data show that climate change poses the greatest threat to maintaining healthy marine and coastal ecosystems.

Because of our expertise, we serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, and strongly supported the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Resolve passed last session. The SLR Resolve tasked state agencies with identifying where to incorporate uniform SLR projections and make other changes to our coastal land use laws and regulations to foster climate resilience. LD 1970 implements the agency recommendations. The bill will be strengthened by incorporating the modifications proposed by the amendment.

First, the amendment expands the elements of a municipal climate action plan to include an evaluation of options to build resilience to natural hazards. Building resilience is at the heart of climate action planning. This sensible edit clarifies that intent.

Second, the amendment clarifies that municipal growth management program elements should include building resilience to natural hazards and the potential effects of risks on protected natural resources. We support planning that considers impacts both to valuable infrastructure and valuable natural resources.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that the Committee vote that LD 1970 as amended Ought to Pass.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

Testimony in Support of LD 1616: An Act To Enhance the Ability of Municipalities to Address Climate Change Impacts by Protecting and Restoring Threatened Natural Resources

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1616

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 1616, An Act To Enhance the Ability of Municipalities to Address Climate Change Impacts by Protecting and Restoring Threatened Natural Resources.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has monitored Casco Bay and advocated to improve and protect its health. We recognize climate change as the biggest threat to the continued vitality of our coastal and marine resources. We further recognize that how we prepare for coastal resilience is complicated by the fact that so much of our coast is in private ownership.

LD 1616 expands existing law so municipalities may appropriate public funds to repair private roads, ways or bridges to protect and restore coastal bluffs or protected natural resources including coastal sand dune systems, coastal wetlands, significant wildlife habitat, fragile mountain areas, freshwater wetlands, community public water system primary protection areas, great ponds or rivers, streams or brooks. Current law only allows municipalities to appropriate public funds to repair private roads, ways or bridges to prevent storm water runoff pollution from reaching a great pond, for purposes of protecting or restoring the great pond.

LD 1616’s expansion of current law may help municipalities implement climate resilience plans and protect natural resources for the greater good. It does not mandate expenditures of public funds for private benefits, and it includes threshold conditions that must be met.

For these reasons, we support LD 1616. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

Testimony in Opposition of LD 1979

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in opposition to LD 1979

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following testimony in opposition to LD 1979. This bill compromises Maine’s ability to require adequate fish passage at hydropower dams. For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Fish passage, such as that required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at dams owned by Sappi on the Presumpscot River and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), is essential to a healthy Bay. Friends of Casco Bay opposes any efforts that would diminish DEP’s authority.

We oppose LD 1979 for the following reasons:

  • Section 1 requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry (DACF) to develop river management plans for every major river in the state. DACF lacks the expertise or the staff to do this. It already has this authority and is not fulfilling it.
  • Section 2 of the bill prevents our natural resource agencies from recommending fish passage standards that are stricter than FERC’s fish passage recommendations. Maine needs this authority to protect endangered species. Section 2 also prevents DEP from denying a license to dams that do not meet state water quality standards because FERC failed to require adequate fish passage requirements.
  • This bill threatens Maine’s delegated authority under the Clean Water Act. EPA will review Maine’s program later this year. EPA could consider this bill in contravention to Maine’s delegated authority and revoke it.

For these reasons, Friends of Casco Bay requests that this Committee vote that LD 1979 Ought Not To Pass.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

Testimony in support of LD 1964, with an amendment to upgrade the Presumpscot River

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1964, An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State, with an amendment introduced by Representative Bell to upgrade the Presumpscot River from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater to Class B

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter and enclosed fact sheet in support of LD 1964. We support the bill overall, but most ardently support an amendment to LD 1964 that would upgrade the Presumpscot River from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater from Class C to Class B.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. The Presumpscot River drains the bulk of our watershed, flowing from pristine headlands through some of Maine’s most urbanized areas. The fact that the lower stem, from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater, has been restored from being the most polluted river segment in the State to one that meets Class B standards is completely joyful and strikes at the very intent of the Clean Water Act.

The fact sheet contains the analysis supporting the upgrade. We most ardently hope you will support the amendment to upgrade the lower Presumpscot. We can think of no better way to celebrate this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

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

FOCB Fact Sheet in support of Presumpscot Amendment to LD 1964

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