Governor proposes cuts on 63 health and environmental laws
Maine’s new governor, Paul LePage (R-Maine), the former mayor of Waterville, proposed 63 regulatory rollbacks last month that would reverse over four decades’ worth of clean energy, public health, and environmental protection bills. Among the laws that could potentially be repealed is the Kid-Safe Products Act, which regulates the amount of toxic chemicals in everyday products.
LePage’s plan also calls for the opening of at least 30 percent of the North Woods and formerly protected areas to development projects. Various recycling and anti-air pollution initiatives could also be eliminated from the state budget, and the Maine Board of Environmental Protection could be permanently disbanded.
Environmental groups who have been monitoring the situation, not only worry that the rollbacks could threaten the state’s natural resources, but also that they could hinder greenhouse gas and climate change initiatives that were signed into law by former Governor John Baldacci.
“Maine has been a real leader when it comes to these issues…and [the proposals] would put us at the back end,” Nathaniel Meyer, a field associate from Environment Maine, said in a press release.
LePage argues that Maine is falling behind the rest of the country with regard to job creation and new investment opportunities. He accuses the state’s standards of being too strict for businesses to operate successfully.
“My message to the regulators in the state is that family-owned businesses, mid-size businesses and large businesses in the state of Maine are on the endangered species list; and that we must defend the private sector the same way that the environmentalists are protecting the tree frogs and Canadian lynx,” LePage said in a press release.
In his acceptance speech as governor of Maine, LePage was known for chanting his mantra: “People before politics!” However, with these proposed rollbacks, some constituents wonder whether he is putting economic development before Maine people by cutting down on health, education and environmental standards.
“Climate change is going to be a huge threat to Maine’s identity and to maintaining a strong economy and man’s quality of life,” Meyer said in a press release. “There is no room for a backslide because there is so much more work to be done.”
LePage’s proposal has been met with an uproar from Maine’s environmentalists and concerned citizens. A public hearing was held last Monday, giving local residents the opportunity to voice their concerns. Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Gail Carlson and several students attended the hearing.
As the event corresponded with Valentine’s Day, some attendees brought heart shaped valentines for their legislators to emphasize their belief that the acts are important to the future of a healthy Maine.