Last night, the city's Transportation, Sustainability, and Energy Committee unanimously approved a resolution calling upon the state legislature, US State Department, US Congress, US Environmental Protection Agency, and President Barack Obama to "require a thorough analysis of the potential impacts of any tar sands oil pipeline proposal through Maine including evaluation of the health, safety, and environmental risks and spill response techniques and impacts."
There are 44 solar companies in Maine, employing 270 workers, according to a new report by the non-profit Solar Foundation.
"These are the first credible solar jobs
numbers for all 50 states," the Foundation boasts on its blog. "Solar employs 119,000 people in every state
in the nation, and employment grew 13.2% last year alone."
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.
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).
Over the past few weeks, friends have posted pictures of defaced BP signs, or empty BP lots, on Facebook. There's a pretty big Boycott BP Facebook group. There have been anti-BP rallies across the country, including here in Portland. People, understandably, want to take out their fear and anger about the oil spill on something -- especially when their attempts to help are rebuffed
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.