Preserving Maine’s Environment

By State Senator Bill Diamond

Maine is an incredibly beautiful place, and its pristine environment is one of our greatest assets.

With the change in parties in power, many people (myself included) were very concerned that a lot of the improvements made in Maine over the last few decades would be lost. I am pleased to say that, at least after the first session of the legislature, most of these fears were unfounded.

This doesn’t mean that there weren’t attempts to make some potentially disastrous changes. It was more a case of cooler heads prevailing. By and large, the two parties were able to work together to defeat the more extreme proposals and even make some improvements. One proposal that, at least so far, has been laid to rest was an attempt to gut the bottle bill. I am convinced that the major reason our roads are so relatively free of trash compared to some other states is our bottle bill. Not only does this bill help keep our streets and highways clean, but the redemption centers keep many people employed and it promotes recycling of the containers. There were several bills to alter or remove the bottle bill proposed, but none passed.

For decades we have had very strong laws prohibiting billboards on our highways. As a result, when you drive in Maine you can enjoy our beautiful scenery without having your views blocked by enormous ads. This year two bills were proposed that would have made billboards a part our scenery again. These bills came before my committee, the Transportation Committee, where I was proud to be one of the leaders in the successful effort to defeat them.

The governor made much of his belief that there was no reason to ban BPA, a chemical used in the production of plastic that has been shown to affect hormone production in animals. Repealing the ban, enacted last year, was a legislative priority for the governor, yet that was stricken from the bill on regulatory reform by the time it came out of committee. As a matter of fact when the rule calling for the ban of BPA came before the legislature, it was overwhelmingly upheld. In the Senate the vote was 35-0, and in the House it was 145-3.

While some damaging bills were held over, and others could yet come up, overall I am heartened by the way the parties were able to come together to make sure that Maine continues to safeguard our environment. After all, it is really a priceless treasure.

If you want to comment on any of these bills, or have any issues with the state, please call my office at the State House at at 287-1515 or visit my website at www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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