We hope to make climate justice a priority in the State House. Below are three legislative priorities of our Earth Day Climate Strike. If you are inspired by the mission of our Strike, you can read about these bills and advocate for them! Click here to find your State Senator and State Representative and how to contact them. Make your voice heard!
Earth Day Strike Demands
Consumer Owned Utility - A Pine Tree Power Company
Mainers deserve clean, affordable energy. Consumer-owned utilities (COU) are nonprofits–rather than corporations–that provide residents with power. Instead of CEOs, they are run by a board of elected members. COUs are, on average, both cheaper and more reliable than for-profit energy companies. Because consumer owned utilities are accountable to their customers, not a CEO, the customers have the power to demand that a higher percentage of their energy come from clean sources.
As of 2016, only six U.S communities ran completely on renewables; all got their power from COUs. Municipalities in our state that already have COUs are benefiting financially. Mainers who get their power from investor-owned Central Maine Power and Versant pay 49% more on average for residential service than customers of Maine’s consumer-owned utilities. A Maine COU, the Pine Tree Power Company, advances the principles of climate justice by lessening the burden of expensive power on residents and hastening the transition to renewable energy. Maine can run on renewables!
Maine’s people rely on our natural environment for our livelihood and recreation. A government for and by the people has a duty to respect the land we live and work upon. A Pine Tree Amendment would enshrine the right of every Mainer to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment in our State Constitution. The text of the Amendment is as follows:
“The people of the State have the right to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural and healthful qualities of the environment. The State may not infringe upon these rights. The State shall conserve, protect and maintain the State’s natural resources, including, but not limited to, its air, water, land and ecosystems for the benefit of all the people, including generations yet to come.”
The state of Maine will have to ensure all laws, permits, and contracts uphold protections of the earth. Preserving a healthy and clean environment will become “a guiding principle and obligation for all government action from the local town council to the state legislature.”
Transportation is Maine’s largest source of carbon emissions. Public transit helps reduce emissions and equitably serves commuters. LD 1170 directs the Department of Transportation to study what improvements could be made to the Amtrak Downeaster to better serve commuters and reduce emissions. The bill will create a roadmap to make passenger rail more accessible and attractive to Maine commuters along our current passenger rail corridor, to and from Brunswick, Freeport, Portland, Saco-Biddeford, and Wells-Sanford. The public hearing for LD 1170, will be April 12th at 1pm! This means that we need your testimony to show youth and grassroots support for this bill. For a guide on how to write and submit testimony, check out our testimony template. With your testimony, we can improve the Amtrak Downeaster and promote equitable, sustainable public transit. Testimony submitted past April 12th is still beneficial.
Protect Ancient Forests is a Maine-based grassroots environmental organization committed to protection of the nation’s remaining mature and old-growth forests.
Serving as the lungs of our nation, old-growth forests naturally sequester enormous amounts of carbon, reduce wildfire risk, supply clean drinking water, and provide refuge to threatened and endangered species.
By promoting the arts and sciences, Protect Ancient Forests seeks to inspire the creation of a permanently-protected network of mature and old-growth forests along our nation’s northern tier that they are calling the "Curtain of Green.”
To learn more about this energized movement and to make your voices heard, please visit protectancientforests.org
The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 (MICSA) allowed the State of Maine to prohibit Maine tribes from receiving the benefits of federal Native American policies. Federal policy largely allows Native Americans the right to self-government. This self-government had led to economic prosperity and representational dignity for native tribes. However, Maine’s native tribes have been stripped of this right to self-government and subsequently of its benefits.
A report by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development finds that “tribal self-determination through self-government has resulted in a quite remarkable economic, social,
and political resurgence in Indian Country.” Maine’s tribes lack the right to self-governance.
The study also finds that self-governance of native tribes not only increases prosperity for tribal members, but the surrounding communities as well: “surrounding off-reservation economies and communities have quite consistently, if not absolutely always, experienced net benefits as tribes have taken the reins of self-government and conditions have improved on reservations under Self-Determination.”
Tribal sovereignty means returning the full rights of self-determination to Maine’s native tribes. Maine’s tribal members and their neighbors deserve the benefits of a self-determined tribal government.