(UPDATED) LePage Fires Back at Maine Conservation Voters: Scorecard Deserves ‘I’ for “incomplete, irrelevant and inaccurate”

Posted on October 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Apparently the Governor disagrees strongly with the Maine Conservation Voters’ Report Card grading of a “D” for LePage and his administration earlier today. Late this afternoon, he and his staff fired back with a press release:

LePage Administration Continues to Protect Maine’s Environment and Natural Resources
Governor LePage calls out MCV for politically-charged grade

AUGUSTA Today, the Maine Conservation Voters (MCV) released a scorecard which unrealistically reflects the efforts of the LePage Administration relating to Maine’s clear air, water, land and wildlife. However, the ‘D’ rating from “A Report Card to the People of Maine” is no surprise to the Governor because MCV is known to be a politically motivated group.

“This scorecard deserves an ‘I’ for incomplete, irrelevant and inaccurate,” commented Governor Paul LePage after learning of the report. “I am disappointed that despite my Administration’s hard work on the natural resources areas over two years and our willingness to engage that this is the result. Our natural resource-based agencies continue to be committed to promote good stewardship of our natural resources and ensure a sustainable economy through pragmatic protections.”

According to the Maine Conservation Voters website, the organization’s 2012 political endorsements reflect support for Democrats 82 percent of the time with 90 percent approval to non-republican candidates. However, political intent aside, the information provided in “A Report Card to the People of Maine” is inaccurate. The LePage administration continues to protect Maine’s environment and natural resources through various initiatives among which effectively implement safer chemical regulations, improve product stewardship programs, and protect clean water for Maine’s natural resource-based industries.

“The hardworking people of Maine, our fisherman, farmers and loggers, understand how our administration is working toward policies that encourage a sustainable industry and prosperous Maine,” said Governor LePage. “While Maine Conservation Voters attempts to sway a handful of voters my administration will continue to work for all Mainers.”

UPDATED (5:30pm): Not satisfied with his own office’s response, the Governor issued a press release from the Department of Marine Resources moments after the above LePage retort to MCV:

    Department of Marine Resources Response to MCV Report Card

    The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) welcomes Maine Conservation Voter’s acknowledgement of our accomplishments with regard to development of a rotational management plan for scallops, establishment of a permit bank to protect Maine’s access to the groundfishery, and the Department of Environmental Protection’s oil-spill preparedness activities.

    However, the department strongly disagrees with MCV’s characterization of the LePage Administration’s efforts on two key issues: 1) protection of clean water for Maine’s shellfish industry, and 2) the removal of the Great Works dam in the restoration of the Penobscot River.

    Under the LePage Administration, the Department of Marine Resources has made access to safe shellfish a key priority. Legislation was passed in early 2012 (with an emergency preamble signed by the Governor) which changed the structure of the opening and closures of shellfish areas from an emergency rule process to a notification under the Commissioner’s authority, saving staff time that could be redirected to other activities of benefit to the shellfish industry, as well as making the process more understandable and user-friendly for the general public. The phytoplankton species that has the most impact on coastal Maine shellfish resources is Alexandrium (red tide). This species of phytoplankton occurs well offshore where established cyst beds exist. It is important to note and there is no direct connection between localized nitrogen pollution and the abundance or duration of red tide blooms in coastal Maine waters. DMR, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and Department of Health and Human Services have made a concerted effort to improve communications to resolve known fecal pollution issues, as sources of fecal pollution have the single largest impact on our shellfish resources.

    Additionally, on June 11th, the Great Works Dam removal on the Penobscot River commenced. Commissioner of Marine Resources, Patrick Keliher, whose personal work history on this project is extensive, attended the ceremonies on behalf of Governor Paul LePage, noting in his address that the day was “celebration of a project which is the embodiment of many of the goals of this Administration: increased hydropower production, improved business certainty, and the provision of a wealth of economic prospects through rebuilt fisheries.” He also noted that while the Governor has previously expressed his concerns about dam removal in the context of our broader energy needs, he appreciates the long history of collaboration among numerous and diverse interests that have advanced the Penobscot project over many years, and the positive outcomes for both energy and environment that resulted from the Great Works Dam removal.

    “I am disappointed that Maine Conservation Voters has so egregiously mischaracterized the LePage Administration’s efforts to protect Maine’s marine resources industry,” said Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “We have made great efforts to collaborate with other departments and the general public to ensure the health and safety of our marine environment and the industries which depend on it. Although we appreciate MCV has recognized our work in some areas, we believe their criticisms do not accurately represent our efforts to preserve Maine’s environment.”

*Related: Maine Conservation Voters Release 2010-12 Report Card On Governor LePage…

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One Response to “(UPDATED) LePage Fires Back at Maine Conservation Voters: Scorecard Deserves ‘I’ for “incomplete, irrelevant and inaccurate””

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Dept of Conservation weighed in: http://www.maineenvironews.com/Home/tabid/97/mid/628/newsid628/23743/Default.aspx

ACF Responds to MCV Report Card
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) responded today to inaccuracies outlined in a scorecard released by the Maine Conservation Voters. “A Report Card to the People of Maine” is not a factual representation of the efforts of ACF to improve Maine’s environment and natural resources.

“Governor LePage’s leadership in merging the departments of Conservation and Agriculture puts the sustainable use of farm, forest and recreation resources in the best position to utilize scarce public dollars,” said ACF Commissioner Walter Whitcomb. “Unlike all the previous governors who tried to merge natural-resources departments, Governor LePage repeated instructed us to keep efficiency savings and use those funds to grow our natural-resource economy.”

The LePage Administration took the lead and actually completed what had only been squabbled about in other administrations – the merger and consolidation of two major natural-resource agencies into one comprehensive, cost-efficient department focusing on Maine’s land-based sectors, including agriculture, forestry, natural landscape, outdoor recreation and public-access interests.

Nowhere in the MCV report is this significant accomplishment acknowledged or even mentioned.

The combining of the departments of Agriculture and Conservation into the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry already is supporting the state’s natural resource economy, improving and supporting existing land-based industries, and streamlining the use of funds.

The Department has continued to provide excellent customer service during the merger process; it is facilitating team work in land-use planning, conservation and economic activity; and it is working with all the many constituencies that have a strong interest in our land-based natural resources.

Maine Conservation Voters fails to acknowledge additional efforts of the LePage Administration as well. Those include:

· The Administration’s support for the joint invasive insect purple-trap survey now under way within the ACF department. More than 900 bug traps have been set out and are being collected and examined to determine if the highly destructive emerald ash borer, found in Massachusetts and Connecticut, has entered Maine.

· The LePage Administration, through the ACF Commissioner, has initiated a number of category refinements that provided increased opportunities for small fruit growers and farm-to-school programs to qualify for federal research funding in the 2012 round of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

· Efforts to grow and market Maine produce from all size of producers continue on a daily basis.

· A number of efforts surrounding proper use of pesticides and pesticide monitoring have taken place under the LePage Administration. The Administration, through the ACF department, strongly supported a combined effort of the Maine Farm Bureau and Maine Organic Farmers to require more safe handling training for pesticide use. This is especially important new training for users of organic pesticides.

· The LePage Administration supported the repeal of an extremely burdensome and redundant law regarding pesticide-application notification. Stakeholders now are working to reach consensus on a new version that meets the needs of both land managers and those interested in being notified about pesticide application.

· The Administration recently appointed the two public members on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, one a PhD ecologist and the other a licensed arborist.

· Regarding the Maine forests, the LePage Administration was particularly supportive of new legislation creating “chop-and-drop” procedures – putting wood in streams to enhance cold water fisheries.

· Under the LePage Administration, the consolidation of most Forest Practices Act regulation enforcement has been turned over to the Maine Forest Service from LURC and DEP. This is a significant efficiency for the agencies.

· Under this Administration, the Maine Forest Service has begun issuing reports on the conditions of Maine’s spruce/fir and hardwood forests. This is a great benefit to all interested parties, including landowners.

· Through the efforts of the LePage Administration, significant reform took place on the management, development and conservation of Maine’s 10.4 million acres of unorganized territories. The Land Use Planning Commission is better positioned today to engage in meaningful, prospective planning for the future of the unorganized and deorganized areas of the State, including Maine’s North Woods. The need for and importance of this forward-looking planning process is recognized in the LUPC’s 2010 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. With the transfer of many permitting responsibilities to the Department of Environmental Protection, the LUPC now will have an opportunity to focus on this important planning.

· The recent reform legislation (LD 1798), which the Governor supported, enhances the qualification requirements for county nominees serving on the Land Use Planning Commission and recognizes the importance of the unorganized and deorganized areas of Maine to regions across the State. An individual nominated by a county to serve on the Commission must have expertise in commerce and industry, fisheries and wildlife, or forestry or conservation issues as they relate to the Commission’s jurisdiction. This is a new mandatory requirement. Each of the eight counties with the most acreage within the unorganized and deorganized areas has the opportunity to nominate an individual to serve on the Commission, this citizen board will be diverse and better positioned to represent and be responsive to individuals throughout these areas and across the State.

Posted on Monday, October 01, 2012 (Archive on Monday, October 22, 2012)


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