AUGUSTA, ME – Today, Maine Conservation Voters unveiled its 2022 legislative scorecard highlighting state legislative environmental and voting rights victories and the elected officials who made them possible — including 84 state senators and representatives who received our coveted 100% score.
“From keeping out-of-state waste out of Maine’s landfills, to holding our utilities accountable to climate change and ratepayers, to raising water quality standards for more than 800 miles of rivers and streams, Maine people have a lot to celebrate from the 2022 legislative session,” said Beth Ahearn, Director of Government Affairs at Maine Conservation Voters. “We’re proud to shine a light on some of the legislative victories for our state and communities — as well as the people who made them possible.”
This year’s scorecard includes a special spotlight on tribal sovereignty, a report on the Mills Administration’s record on climate action over the past four years, and an examination of seven bills that address issues of environmental justice, out-of-state waste, utility accountability, water quality, PFAS contamination, election security, and climate education.
“At this moment, we are celebrating a banner year for Maine’s environment, climate, and our democracy,” continued Ahearn. “Together with Governor Janet Mills, the Maine Legislature passed significant policies that equitably tackle climate change, invest in healthy communities, protect our environment and democracy, and advance environmental justice. Maine Conservation Voters and its members will continue working to fight climate change, invest in renewable energy, reduce pollution in the communities most harmed, and safeguard Maine’s air, land, and water for future generations.”
Highlights of the 2022 Environmental Scorecard:
Of the 35 Maine State Senators…
- Conservation Champions (100% score): 21
- Score of 86%: 1
- Score of 17% or lower: 0
Of the 151 Maine State Representatives…
- Conservation Champions (100% score): 63
- Score of 83%: 13
- Score of 17% or lower: 30
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Bills scored this legislative session include:
Securing Access to Clean Drinking Water
LD 906: For decades, the public water supply delivered by the state-regulated Passamaquoddy Water District has often been discolored, odorous, and tainted with high levels of carcinogens – and systemic barriers have blocked efforts to address the unsafe and deteriorating water system. LD 906 is a victory in the fight for clean drinking water for all communities. It assigns jurisdiction over Passamaquoddy drinking water to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, not the State of Maine, enabling the tribe to regulate its own drinking water under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It also opens the door to new federal funding opportunities and gives the Passamaquoddy Water District critically needed financial support.
Closing the Out-of-State Waste Loophole
LD 1639: This legislation closes the loophole in Maine’s waste management laws that allowed Massachusetts and other New England states to truck their construction and demolition waste to the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. Rapidly filling landfills require expansions and lead to increased pollution, which disproportionately impacts the Penobscot Nation, residents living near the landfill, and the Penobscot River and Bay. This legislation will help protect Maine’s environment and public health.
Planning for the Electric Grid of the Future
LD 1959: This legislation holds Maine’s large electric utilities accountable to ratepayers and our climate future. It requires Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant to develop integrated grid plans to improve electric system reliability and resiliency; enable the cost-effective achievement of the greenhouse gas reduction obligations and climate policies in Maine’s Climate Action Plan; nd assist in the transition to a clean, affordable, and reliable electric grid; requires separate climate change protection plans including specific actions for addressing the expected impacts of climate change; and mandates that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) publish quarterly report cards on utility performance and impose administrative penalties for a utility’s poor performance, and provides for a process for divesting an underperforming investor-owned utility of its utility assets to a qualified buyer. The PUC must also report back to lawmakers how it can best support this work, including an assessment of staffing and resource needs and its potential use of competitive procurement of goods and services by the utilities and the resource.
Upgrading Water Quality Standards for Rivers and Streams
LD 1964: Every three years, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) makes recommendations to upgrade the water quality classification on Maine’s rivers and streams, according to the federal Clean Water Act. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and DEP recommended upgrading the water quality classification on 800 miles of rivers and streams. In a fitting tribute, the Legislature unanimously approved the recommendations.
Preventing PFAS Contamination of Farmland
LD 1911: LD 1911 makes Maine the first state in the nation to ban the application of PFAS-contaminated sludge and sludge-derived compost in order to prevent the further contamination of farmland. These dangerous chemicals have been so widespread for so long that they contaminate our wastewater – and PFAS-contaminated wastewater sludge has been spread on farmland as fertilizer for decades.
Securing Election Transparency and Audits
LD 1155: This legislation establishes post-election audits to ensure that Maine’s elections remain secure and accessible. Though the bill itself did not become law, key provisions and language were incorporated into the supplemental budget, making Maine the 45th state to require post-election audits. Other provisions adopted include a requirement that the Secretary of State develop a streamlined election complaint process and produce and publicly disseminate a guide to election procedures.
Expanding Opportunities for Climate Education in Schools
LD 1902: This legislation establishes a three-year pilot program within the Department of Education to provide grants for professional development for K-12 educators on climate science, encourage partnerships between schools and community organizations, and support the preparation of courses on interdisciplinary climate education. The state budget allocates $2 million to the pilot and the Department of Education may supplement that with outside funding.
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The 2022 Environmental Scorecard also includes a spotlight on legislative efforts to recognize the inherent sovereignty of the Wabanaki Tribes (p. 4-5).
“There is no better way to protect tribal lands and waters than to restore tribal sovereignty,” said Beth Ahearn. “Maine Conservation Voters is part of a growing movement committed to the critical and urgent work of recognizing the inherent rights and sovereign powers of the Wabanaki Nations.”
Additionally, the annual report highlights the Mills Administration’s record on climate action over the past four years (p. 24-25).
“Governor Mills charted a bold new course for protecting Maine’s environment, climate, and democracy after eight years of harm under the previous Administration,” said Beth Ahearn. “Notably, she acted decisively through legislation and executive action to demonstrate that Maine Won’t Wait to tackle the effects of climate change, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and build the state’s renewable energy future.”