Days before what they are billing as the biggest anti-tar-sands rally ever in the Northeast, environmental activists gathered first at Portland City Hall and then outside of the Portland Pipe Line Corporation headquarters in South Portland this morning.
At City Hall, mayor Michael Brennan and city councilor Dave Marshall spoke in support fo a new Environmental Performance Policy that would make the city "tar-sands free" by directing city manager Mark Rees "not to purchase any oil-based fuels from refineries that process tar sands."
In last week's Going Green column, I wrote about smart meters, the somewhat controversial devices intended to make our electric grid more efficient. I reported that anti-smart-meter activist Ed Friedman had written to Maine Attorney General William Schneider, claiming that Central Maine Power's opt-out fees (up to $144 per year, plus a one-time charge of $40) were extortion due to the fact that customers were being forced to pay to avoid/prevent harm, Friedman argued.
A group of environmental organizations is calling attention to the fact the ExxonMobil -- the world's largest company by revenue -- is the majority owner (at 76 percent) of the oil pipeline that runs through Maine, past the Androscoggin and Crooked rivers, and Sebago Lake. This is the pipeline that I wrote about earlier this summer -- the one that oil giants want to use to pump tar sands from Western Canada to the Portland Harbor.
In this week's Phoenix, out tomorrow, Lance Tapley talks to state senator Justin Alfond about several troubling pieces of legislation still up for debate in Augusta (there are just two weeks left until the end of the legislative session).
One of those is LD 1853, An Act To Improve Environmental Oversight and Streamline Permitting for Mining in Maine, which would change the state's mining laws, making them more lenient.
Anyone who thinks that January's much-hyped news about the Keystone XL pipeline is the ultimate victory against tar sands oil is sorely mistaken. In fact, there is a plan in the works to potentially pump such heavy, viscous oil into Portland.
Next week, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine will bring national enviro experts to the University of Southern Maine to outline about what this could mean for Maine, our environment, and our drinking water (Bill McKibben, who was in town just recently and is a leading activist against Big Oil, will supposedly be Skyping in).
The man being hailed as key in killing the Keystone XL pipeline is speaking in Westbrook tonight. Deirdre Fulton spoke with him this week; read the piece here. If you can't make the talk, which is at 6 pm at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 471 Stroudwater St, Westbrook, here's the link to UNE's livestream of the event
Drew Steinbeiser's article about blue bags and garbage disposal in Portland generated a lot of feedback. Now it looks like Cape Elizabethians will be grappling with the same issues. The CE Town Council will take public comment tonight on a paid-bag system like the one Portland has, according to the Forecaster. The article publishes some interesting statistics:
Local sustainable transportation activists are making noise about tonight's Portland City Council meeting, which takes place at 7 pm at City Hall. Fees in lieu of parking, which are described eloquently here and here, basically encourage developers to opt out of the city's parking requirements (which require builders to provide a certain amount of parking spaces depending on the building's size and use) and pay a $10,000 fee instead.
We've all seen the interactive map that places the Gulf oil spill on top of your hometown or region. (Around here, it would span from Lawrence, Mass, to Calais -- and westward into New Hampsire and Vermont.)
Here's another way of reconceptualizing the BP disaster: in terms of energy wasted. EnergySavvy.com, a Web site that provides energy-efficiency resources for home owners and energy contractors, calculated that "the energy contained in the biggest oil spill in US history is equal to the energy that just 75,000 homes waste in a single year," which "represent less than 0.
A group of activists gathered on Wednesday outside the Nickelodeon to educate the public about toxic chemicals in cosmetics and fragrances, and to promote the Safe Chemicals Act, which calls for more rigorous EPA testing of consumer products.
Chemicals linked to cancer, allergic and immune-system reactions, and reproductive disorders show up in everything from nail polish to lotion to hairspray, they said.
Here's a cool mapping program that lets you see how bad it is - here's the oil spill laid over the map of Maine. If you center the spill on Augusta, it reaches from Casco Bay to the border of Washington County, with outlying areas as far away as Vermont.
(You can also enter other locations, to see how much of other areas of the globe it would cover.)
In next week's Going Green column, I'll talk about what goes into raising eco-friendly, healthy, pasture-raised, organic meat. Today I met these fellows:
Yup, those are one-and-a-half-week-old piglets! Alice and Rufus Percy, of Treble Ridge Farm, were great hosts and I'm looking forward to writing this piece.
Portland has had a car-sharing program for approximately one year. While experts are still analyzing the numbers and what they mean for U-Car Share in Maine, here's some raw data, brought to you courtesy of Excel spreadsheets (I remember how to find averages! thanks college!) and transportation advocate/city councilor Kevin Donoghue:
Seriously, this is ridiculously revisionist history in the service of environmentalism.
We just got an e-mail from them with five tips for a "green" holiday season.
Here's tip number 1: "Think global, eat local - The Colonials didn’t get their meal from the freezer case at the local supermarket. Why should you?"
This overlooks the fact that the Colonials nearly didn't get their fucking meal at all.
The Maine Department of Transportation is planning how to make traffic (car, bike, and foot, presumably) flow more safely and smoothly at Exit 7, off 295. But several groups, including the League of Young Voters, the Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation, and the Franklin Reclamation Authority, are expressing disappointment that the most recent MDOT plan does not include a scheme to connect Franklin with Back Cove for pedestrians.