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Community Activism Across Maine in 2015: Congrats to all the amazing leaders working for a healthier Maine!
We at Toxics Action Center wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season. As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, we also take time to celebrate the work of heroic residents across the state protecting their neighborhoods and families from toxic pollution and making all of our communities more democratic and more sustainable. Maine and all of New England is a healthier place because of their work. Certainly cause for celebration!
Fighting for Maine’s Special Places
The Friends of Lamoine continue to win victories to protect their town from the destructive effects of gravel mining. This year they defeated an ordinance written to benefit the gravel companies. It was a heated campaign, and people started paying attention when Friends of Lamoine campaign signs were stolen by unknown parties. Despite the dirty tricks, the people prevailed in a vote of 425 to 185. The victory was the result of the hard work of group leaders Kathie Gaianguest, Carol Korty, Bruce Gillett, Kathleen Rybarz and others. Congratulations on this step forward to protect Lamoine from noise, dust, truck traffic, and environmental destruction!
Reducing Toxic Pesticide Use
One of the most inspirational stories from Maine this year is the continuing grassroots activism in South Portland. Last year Protect South Portland (PSP) won a historic victory to prevent tar sands and other crude oil from polluting local air and jeopardizing human health.
This year, the same people made huge strides in moving South Portland towards a future without dangerous pesticides and other polluting lawn chemicals. Members of Protect South Portland started Bees, Bays and Backyards (BBB) to address this important issue. BBB is made up of experienced leaders from the tar sands fight including Rachel Burger, MJ Ferrier, Cathy Chapman, Linden Thigpen, and Roberta Zuckerman. This group has been bolstered by PSP members who are stepping up into leadership roles including Jayne Schiff-Verre and Abby Huntoon. So far the campaign has resulted in a unanimous directive from the South Portland City Council for the city staff to write an ordinance that will end the use of toxic lawn chemicals.
Now BBB and Toxics Action Center are making connections with surrounding communities interested in passing similar ordinances. Kudos to the Portland Pollinator Partnership and the Portland Protectors working to similarly reduce pesticide use. Avery Yale Kamila and Maggie Knowles have brought a pesticide ordinance to the Portland City Council and organized speakers to provide testimony in support of the ordinance at the first public hearing. Portland residents are standing up to the chemical lawn care companies. This regional movement has the potential to make a bigger impact on Casco Bay and inspire communities around Maine and beyond to take positive steps to protect pollinators, local environments and health.
Stopping New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Rockland is facing a new proposal for a power plant on the site of their city hall that would burn fracked gas. An eclectic group of activists from Rockland and surrounding communities has come together to oppose this environmentally destructive plan. Sandra Schramm worked with Toxics Action Center years ago on fumes from diesel trains. Ron Huber has been working to protect Penobscot Bay from other threats including dredging and legacy contamination and was more than happy to join in the fight against the gas plant. So was Vivian Newman from the Friends of the Weskeag who doesn’t want the headwaters of the Weskeag River to be threatened. We’re proud to be working with all of you on this important issue. Toxics Action Center has been working across the region to stop new fossil fuel proposals and encourage renewables. Rockland is one more community that is saying no to a dirty energy future.
Moving Beyond Burning and Burying
Long-term activists in Old Town and Orono continue to hold the line against Casella’s plan to further expand its mountain in Old Town. Ed and Cheryl Spencer of Old Town have been watch dogging this latest expansion from the beginning. Paul Schroeder and Bill Lippincott have been involved in waste issues in for years and they are not sitting this fight out. Maria Girouard of the Penobscot Nation has also been a key coordinator of the people’s response to the DEP’s slow rubber-stamping of the expansion application. Public hearings will happen next year and activists are building a movement to say no more landfills and yes to a zero waste future.
Thank you to everyone that joined us at our Maine Activism Celebration at Rising Tide Brewery! We were thrilled to have chef-owner of Vinland, David Levi as our guest speaker.
From all of us here at Toxics Action Center, we wish you the very best in the upcoming year.
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