Maine’s existing laws have not reduced pollution. The Pine Tree Amendment will help.

The Opinion BDN section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Luki Hewitt lives in Penobscot and is a member of the Narramissic Valley Friends in Orland. This column was submitted on behalf of the Friends of the Narramissic Valley, Quakers.

People come to Maine because of its outdoor beauty. Most of us live in Maine for the same reason. We now have the opportunity to increase the state’s environmental protection.

In January, the Maine legislature will reconsider the Maine pine modification project. LD 489, Section 25, reads “Environmental rights. The people of the State have the right to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural and healthy qualities of the environment. The State cannot infringe these rights. The State conserves, protects and maintains the natural resources of the State, including, but not limited to, air, water, land and ecosystems for the benefit of all people, including generations future.

Existing laws, while well intentioned, have not effectively reduced pollution of water, soil and air. Laws set standards and create a licensing process that industries must adhere to. However, businesses with enough legal clout and money may find loopholes in the law or a weak person in the bond to help them achieve their goals despite the intent of the law.

We know that efforts have been made by our state and federal governments, and that there has been progress. The Clean Air Act became federal law in 1970. It was amended in 1977 and 1990. The Clean Water Act became federal law in 1948 and was subsequently amended in 1972. Unfortunately, due to the goals of parties and legal interpretations, both laws have been reinterpreted each year. year after year, and modified by nationwide administration after administration. The consequence was a game of ping-pong with an environment where no one wins and everyone loses.

We are fortunate to live in a state that has over 6,000 lakes and 41,000 miles of rivers and streams. It is vital that we protect these waters for our health, our recreation, the health of nature and our economy. Yes, the salmon has returned but the following ratings given by the American Society of Civil Engineers are not very encouraging. In Maine, drinking water went from a C-plus in 2016 to a C in 2020, and wastewater for both years was rated D-plus. The report went on to say that solid waste for both years received a C-minus and that hazardous waste went from C-minus in 2016 to D-plus in 2020. Where is the progress in those years? laws?

According to the World Health Organization, there are 7 million deaths each year from air pollution. According to a United Nations report, 40 percent of the planet will not have access to fresh water by 2030. The UN also says polluted environments kill 1.7 million children a year.

We’ve all heard the numbers, and most of us feel helpless to do anything about it. It is overwhelming. We are tempted to block the loss of life, the destruction of our natural world and become numb to the numbers.

In Maine, much of our air pollution floats on prevailing winds from other states. We have become the tailpipe of the Northeast as refineries pump their emissions into the air of other states. The American Lung Association measures air quality through ozone (smog) and particulate pollution (soot). Bangor continues to rank among the cleanest cities in the country and the Portland / Lewiston area ranks among the top 100 most ozone polluted cities. Air quality is a major contributor to premature death, asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.

Fortunately, some states are taking action. Montana and Pennsylvania have had green amendments in their constitutions since the early 1970s. On November 2, voters in New York City approved adding a green amendment to their constitutions. Ten other states have already submitted green amendment proposals, and five other states have expressed interest in developing their own proposals. The Rockefeller Institute of Government webpage lists these states. Now is our turn.

By adding environmental protection to our state constitution, we elevate it as a core value, a right for all Mainers. By adopting this amendment, we will no longer be dependent on someone else to fix the problem. We will no longer feel helpless. We will raise the bar for business, but we will attract businesses that care about living in a healthy environment and are proud to help create a healthy future for our children and grandchildren. We will protect our state for future generations and set an example for other states.

Speak with your legislators. Support the pine amendment! After all, the winds and the waters are shared by all living creatures. For more information, visit pinetreeamendment.org.

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