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.
Maine Conservation Voters fails to acknowledge the multiple measures the LePage Administration has endorsed to improve Maine's environment and economy. Among the initiatives include:
Governor LePage re-launched the Annual Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence, to recognize projects and programs that have resulted in environmental protection as well as economic benefits that include infrastructure investments and jobs
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is upholding environmental regulations through decisive enforcement to send a strong message that Maine is not a place for polluters, including issuing the largest penalty in 20 years
DEP is issuing licenses and permits that are fully in keeping with state and federal standards for air, land and water protections
DEP is cleaning up hundreds of long-term remediation sites and replacing dozens of at-risk home heating oil tanks to prevent future impacts to public and environmental health
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation (ACF) 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.
Through ACF efforts, The Maine Wild Blueberry Commission, Maine Small Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association were encouraged to collaborate in partnership to broaden their research and grower outreach in the face of a potentially devastating invasive insect (the Spotted Wing Drosophila). As a result their grant application received the highest scoring in the 2012 round of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources work together providing appropriate levels of oversight for both inland and tidal species of fish, weighing public demands with the health of the resource. The Governor has supported an Adaptive Management Plan, developed by both agencies for the controlled restoration of the alewife runs in the St. Croix watershed, which helps protect the important Downeast smallmouth bass fishery while allowing for monitored alewife restoration.
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 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."