Maine Conservation Voters released their bill on Tuesday Scorecard for 2022, calling this year’s session “a banner year for Maine’s environment, climate and democracy” but acknowledging that “IAt the same time, much of what we value is at risk.
The group Mark how Maine lawmakers voted on seven bills this year, including a measure to provide access to drinking water for the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Sipayik and an invoice to close a loophole which allows trash from out of state to end up in the Juniper Ridge landfill.
The group also scored an invoice intended to raise standards of accountability for utilities and facilitate network planning, a prohibition of the application PFAS-contaminated sludge to protect Maine farmland, legislation to improve water quality standards for Maine’s rivers and streams, bill to increase opportunities for climate education in schools and legislation guaranteeing the transparency and security of elections in Maine.
Each of these bills passed the Legislature and became law with the support of Governor Janet Mills. However, the road to getting the measures approved has not always been easy. Original mills opposition expressed to the Passamaquoddy Water Rights Bill before negotiating an agreement and signing the legislation. As for the utility liability measure, utility proponents worried that the legislation wouldn’t do enough to hold Central Maine Power and Versant accountable, but eventually reached a deal that included other performance standards for utility companies.
“Together with Governor Janet Mills, the Maine Legislature has passed important policies that fairly address climate change, invest in healthy communities, protect our environment and democracy, and advance environmental justice,” Maine wrote. Conservation Voters as part of the dashboard.
A total of 84 lawmakers received a score of 100% from the group, meaning they supported each of the bills that Maine’s conservation voters demanded. No Republican has received a perfect score from the organization. The highest score for a GOP lawmaker went to Sen. Rick Bennett (R-Oxford), who scored 86%. The only priority bill that Bennett opposed was the climate education measure.
To view your legislators’ scores, click here.
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers received perfect marks, including Senate Speaker Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) and Deputy Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland) . The House party leadership team — Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford), Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy (D-Old Town) and Deputy Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) — also received scores of 100%.
Five Republican lawmakers received a score of zero, meaning they did not vote for any of the Maine Conservation Voters’ priority bills. Those lawmakers were Richard Cebra (R-Naples), Josanne Dolloff (R-Milton Township), David Haggan (R-Hampden), Frances Head (R-Bethel), and Dwayne Prescott (R-Waterboro). These scores combined anti-environment votes with absentees, which the scorecard weighed in the same way as a vote against a priority bill.
Rep. Braden Sharpe (D-Durham) and Rep. Chad Grignon (R-Athens) also received scores of zero due to their absence from each of the votes on the environmental measures included in the scorecard.
As Maine’s Conservation Voter Scoreboard shows conservationists crossed the finish line in the 2022 session, some activists were disappointed with what they felt was missed opportunities to combat climate change and protect the state’s ecosystem during the first session of the 130th legislature in 2021.
One area of frustration was Mills’ veto of a bill to replace CMP and Versant with a consumer-owned utility — a move supporters say would help spur Maine’s transition to clean electricity. Conservationists have also criticized the governor’s veto of a bill to ban the aerial spraying of dangerous herbicides such as glyphosate and Mills’ opposition to a measure that would strengthen Wabanaki sovereignty and to affirm the right of tribes to regulate natural resources and land use within their territory.
But while activists and green groups have had their disagreements with Mills – a Democrat – the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund warned that the progress made over the past two years would be put in danger if his Republican opponent, former Governor Paul LePage, is elected in November.
Criticizing LePage’s anti-environmental legacy as governor, the group recently approved Mills for re-election.
Photo: A rally for climate justice in Augusta | Courtesy of 350 Maine