Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

In a rare, joint action, a member of the LePage administration has teamed up with the Maine attorney general to file a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor, the lawsuit says the agency has failed to approve state water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

A Maine Superior Court judge has sided with Brunswick residents in a dispute over a planned maintenance and layover facility for the Amtrak Downeaster rail service.

Neighbors of the proposed facility contended that the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority - or NNEPRA - which operates the Downeaster, failed to notify them about an application for a state storm water management permit.  

BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ The state of Maine is suing the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the federal agency has failed to approve the state's water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.
    The state filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor. The suit says EPA is responsible for approving Maine's revisions to its water quality standards or identifying changes needed for federal approval.

Bowdoin College is constructing what it says is the largest solar installation in the state. The school has already broken ground on the complex, which officials say is seven times the size of the state's largest existing solar installation.

The project consists of five different solar installations, including a 700-kilowatt array on land at the former Brunswick Naval Air station that's owned by the college.   

South Portland councilors postponed their meeting and vote on an ordinance to block tar sands crude from being shipped through the city. The council acted after more people showed up for last night's meeting than could be safely accommodated at South Portland's council chambers.

The new ordinance is supposed to be more narrowly tailored than zoning changes rejected by voters last November. But Burt Russell, vice president of Sprague Energy, says that's not what he sees in the new ordinance.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ The South Portland City Council is considering an ordinance that prohibits loading crude oil in bulk onto marine tank vessels.
    The vote was scheduled for Monday night.
    The proposal is narrower in scope than one voters rejected last year. That ordinance was designed to prevent Portland Pipe Line Corp. from bringing tar sands oil into the city from Canada via underground pipe.

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) _ Animal rescuers say they have disentangled a large leatherback sea turtle that was trapped in fishing gear off of Cape Cod.
    Fishermen spotted the turtle off the Sandy Neck section of Barnstable on Sunday. The fishermen reported the sighting to the U.S. Coast Guard who notified the Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement response team.
    A spokeswoman for the center says the turtle was in good condition upon release and swam away promptly.

The town of Harpswell has closed almost 15 acres at the mouth of Strawberry Creek to the harvesting of shellfish and marine worms for the rest of the year.

The closure is being done to study the effectiveness of removing a couple of predators that are taking their toll on clams: invasive European green crabs and milky ribbon worms.

State environmental officials are asking people boating in Maine waters to check their boats before and after they float.  

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection says heavier boat traffic during the summer season increases the risk of spreading invasive plants and animals.

Department officials say boaters should check their vessels for invasive species after they leave one body of water and before launching into another.  DEP biologist John McFedron says, for many environmental issues, prevention is the best bet.

A new report indicates that what are being called "tried-and-true industry tactics" have been used by opponents of an ordinance aimed at keeping tar sands oil out of Maine.  

Environment Maine released it's report as the South Portland City Council prepares to vote on a new ordinance that would prevent tar sands oil from being loaded onto tanker ships in Casco Bay.

Wikimedia Commons

State forestry officials want people to know why many white pines in Maine, and throughout the Northeast, have turned yellow and brown and lost a lot of needles over the past two to three weeks.  

The culprit is White Pine Needle Disease, which is caused by one of several needle fungi.  Maine Forest Service Pathologist Bill Ostrofky says needles that come out in early June are infected, but don't drop off until the next growing season.   

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ State forestry and entomology experts say a fungal disease affecting white pines is growing worse.

William Ostrofsky, forest pathologist for the Maine Forest Service, said Wednesday that white pine needle disease, possibly exacerbated by above-average rainfall, has reached epidemic proportions in Maine, mostly in southwestern and central-western parts of the state.

Canadian Officials Search for Injured Whale

Jul 2, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Canadian fishery officials are searching for a badly injured North Atlantic right whale that appears to be entangled in fishing lines.

North Atlantic right whales are severely endangered, with the population believed to be about 400. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada began an aerial search for the injured whale on Tuesday.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials spotted the whale on Sunday entangled in multiple fishing lines and in poor condition.

Smilla 4 / Creative Commons

An analysis by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finds that American eel stocks are being depleted.  The group was in the state today, taking testimony on ways to preserve the species over the long term. But Elver fishermen and dealers say strict measures like additional quotas aren't needed to protect eels along the eastern seaboard.

Courtesy Friends of Acadia

Marissa Gray of Mount Desert Island stepped off an Acadia National Parks Island Explorer Bus to discover that she was the system's 5 millionth passenger.

Park representatives, along with officials with retailer L.L. Bean, the Maine Department of Transportation, the group Friends of Acadia, and Downeast Transportation presented Gray with a goodie bag and an L.L. Bean gift card, along with a membership to Friends of Acadia.