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Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher says research is crucial to the future of the lobster fishery, and he says lobstermen are relieved Gov. Paul LePage now wants to fund that research with state surplus funds instead of fee increases.

“The money we have asked for will allow us to do some really critical research on lobster,” Keliher says. “We’re riding high right now — we set another new landing record of almost 131 million pounds, but we all know there is a decline coming.”

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - An oil pipeline company wants the $44.7 million assessed value of its real estate and personal property in South Portland to be reduced 42 percent.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the Portland Pipe Line Corp. requested discounts on holdings stretching more than 200 acres, including its oil tanker pier on Casco Bay.

The tax abatement application says the city's Clear Skies law significantly reduced the value of the company's pipeline.

Maine Port Authority

President Donald Trump told Congress this week that he wants to see a trillion dollars spent on the nation’s infrastructure through an unspecified public-private partnership.

Now states, including Maine, are putting down markers for where they see the biggest needs. Maine’s to-do list includes a plan for new barge service between here and New York.

Yellen Signals the Fed Will Likely Raise Rates This Month

Mar 3, 2017

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is signaling that the Fed will likely resume raising interest rates later this month to reflect a strengthening job market and inflation edging toward the central bank's 2 percent target rate.
 
Yellen also says in a speech in Chicago that the Fed expects steady economic improvement to justify additional rate increases. While not specifying how many rate hikes could occur this year, Yellen notes that Fed officials in December had estimated that there would be three this year.
 

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

ROCKPORT, Maine -  The value of the Maine lobster fishery continues to grow, and landings continue to climb.

"Maine certainly is experiencing kind of a sweet spot in terms of its lobster fishery," says Jeff Nichols, of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Nichols says Maine lobsters in 2016 were worth more than $533 million dollars - some $30 million more than the year before. It's the seventh year in a row that the catch value has increased. Nichols says not only are lobsters plentiful, but they're desirable for a number of reasons.

An animal rights organization has filed a complaint against the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, claiming that mice at the research facility are being subjected to pain and suffering.

Alka Chanda of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals says this is the first time her agency has filed a complaint with the National Institutes of Health against the Maine research facility, but Jackson has been on PETA’s radar for several years.

Gov. Paul LePage is in Washington this week promoting Maine as a good place to do business.

LePage took his message to the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, a group advocating for biofuels development, urging biofuels developers to consider coming to Maine.

Speaking to the conference in Thursday morning, LePage said the state’s abundant forests could provide the raw material needed for biofuels production. He says Maine has wanted to tap into the Marcellus pipeline project for natural gas, but an alternative would be making gas and other fuels from wood.

BANGOR, Maine - Officials with the town of East Millinocket say they're relieved that a judge has granted a temporary restraining order that keeps buildings at the former Great Northern Paper Mill property from being demolished.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," says Select Board Chair Mark Scally.

Scally says an investment group has been working to create a biofuels facility on that site, and any set-back, such as the loss of important infrastructure, would not have been good news for that project.

A Portland firm that specializes in connecting employers with workers has expanded its website to included student internships into the mix of options for job seekers.

The Live + Work in Maine website is operated by Pro Search of Portland. College administrators, such as James Westhoff at Husson University in Bangor, say students are increasingly using internships to secure employment opportunities.

Short-term rental company Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will start collecting sales taxes from customers in April. That puts the company — and its hosts in Maine — on the same page as Gov. Paul LePage.

LePage says he wants to update the tax code to better account for the burgeoning short-term rental market. The company now says it’s voluntarily agreeing to automatically collect sales taxes on Maine rentals, starting April 1.

Maine's unemployment rate fell last year, to 3.9 percent from 4.4 percent in 2015.   

That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the percentage of Mainers in the workforce climbed from just below 60 percent to just above.

The state's jobless rate for last year was a full percentage point below the national rate and the New England average.

Maine was one of 27 states where unemployment fell last year.

ROCKPORT, Maine - The Maine Lobstering Union has voted to spend $4 million to buy a lobster business in a move members hope will give fishermen a bigger share of profits.

The union voted Saturday to buy the wholesale side of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Trenton. The Portland Press Herald reports that the pound includes a tank that can hold up to 180,000 pounds of lobster.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

It’s a dirty job, but digging for blood and sand worms along the Maine coast can pay well, particularly in areas of the state where it can be hard to make a living. Maine’s annual harvest of these popular bait worms, however, continues to decline, posing a quandary for marine biologists who cite climate change and predation as possible factors.

Wormers, as they’re called, would like to work with marine biologists to ensure a healthy and robust industry.

Central Maine Power’s customers will see some significant savings on their bills starting this summer, thanks to the end of expensive, long-term power contracts.

The contracts originated under a federal law that aimed to hedge against price surges seen in the 1970s energy crisis. Maine Public Utilities Commission spokesman Harry Lanphear says decades-long contracts Maine utilities signed with Maine-based biomass generators ultimately locked them into rates that were far above market rates.

Fishermen at Odds over Impact of Trump Executive Order

Feb 23, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine -Fishing groups are divided over whether President Donald Trump's "one in, two out'' approach to federal regulations will benefit their industry, harm it or affect it at all.
 
Trump issued an executive order in January that says when a public agency proposes a new regulation, it must also identify two regulations to be repealed. The order caused a flurry of debate, and a lawsuit from political opponents, over whether it's a wise idea or even possible.
 

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