Maine Public

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press File

Maine’s two U.S. senators say they are opposed to President Donald Trump’s proposal that would open federal waters on the East Coast to oil and gas drilling.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the proposal this week that would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters, granting energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.

The proposal would lift a ban put in place by President Barack Obama a few years ago.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Gov. Paul LePage has yet to thoroughly review a Trump administration plan to vastly expand offshore areas of the outer continental shelf to potential oil and gas exploration.  The new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program would open most offshore areas of Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to drilling from 2019 to 2024, including the Gulf of Maine.

This week, the Trump administration released proposed rules that would make it easier for small businesses and the self-employed to band together to buy association health plans.

Supporters say the plans will provide more affordable coverage. But critics say any savings these plans might offer would come at a cost: namely, skimpy coverage and a weaker individual market.

The proposed new rules are aimed at association health plans — plans in which small businesses in the same industry group together to buy insurance coverage and get cheaper rates.

As Mainers continue to deal with cold temperatures, a scam has resurfaced in which Central Maine Power customers are threatened with immediate disconnection unless they make a substantial payment immediately.

CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice says the company has seen an uptick in inquiries from residential and business customers who say they have gotten calls from individuals purporting to be from CMP.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Starting three years from now, high school students in Maine won’t be able to graduate by just earning enough credits — they’ll need to have mastered a set of standards in subjects including math, English and science. Some schools are taking new approaches to help students meet the new proficiency standards — but some educators are still worried that a large percentage of students may not be able to make the grade.

Portland’s city council Wednesday night approved an ordinance that bans the use of synthetic pesticides on most public and private property.

City Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon says that means a very big education campaign before the change begins for private properties in Jan. 2019.

“Our goal would be to just try to reinforce the education message, and if people really aren’t going to participate in the program then we would have options for enforcement, but our goal isn’t to go about fining people,” he says.

Concerns over the viability of the Bangor Mall heightened after Sears Holdings announced Thursday that it will close its store there as the company continues to respond to dynamic changes within the national retail industry.

Sears Holdings says it is continuing its strategic assessment of the productivity of its Kmart and Sears store base.

While residents of Maine's three major service center communities awoke to significant new snowfalls Friday, Bangor's 18.3 inches of new flakes surpassed levels in either Portland or Lewiston.

Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow says the recent cold temperatures have done little to melt snow accumulations from the last storm. Like other communities, Bangor uses a deicing agent to clear its streets and sidewalks, but Conlow says it’s only effective to about five degrees above zero.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Activities across Maine nearly ground to a halt Thursday in the face of an intense nor’easter.

On Thursday, the Trump administration announced a draft proposal that would open large swaths of federal waters to potential oil and gas drilling, including the coast of Maine.

The proposal would open most of the outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling for a five-year lease period to start in 2019. The prospect of rigs churning up the seabed in the Gulf of Maine, alongside struggling shrimp stocks, valuable scallops and the state’s iconic lobster has environmental advocates furious.

LePage Can Expect A Lawsuit If He Blocks Medicaid Expansion

Jan 5, 2018
In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, file photo, supporters of Medicaid expansion celebrate their victory, in Portland, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Much has been written and said about last year’s referendum to expand Maine’s Medicaid program under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the funding battle that’s brewing this year in the Legislature.

But according to Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, there will be no battle.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

In addition to snow and wind, Thursday’s blizzard brought historic flooding to the southern Maine coast, from Portland all the way into New Hampshire.

Haven Daley / Associated Press File

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will rescind Obama-era rules that went easy on enforcement of federal marijuana laws. The news dismays supporters of Maine’s law, and opponents say it will reopen the debate.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

Twenty years ago this month, much of the state was coping with an icy disaster: downed power lines, toppled trees, impassable roads, frozen pipes and darkness for nights on end.

Schools turned into shelters, power crews worked feverishly around the clock and Mainers pulled together, offering hot showers and cups of coffee and swapping stories about surviving the Ice Storm of ‘98.

With each winter storm, municipalities must respond with plow-hours, salt and sand, and try not to run out of those resources before spring. So far, towns are reporting that they’re “mostly” on budget.

“We’re probably 25-30 percent expended on salt. And about 20 percent expended on overtime,” says Eric Dudley, director of engineering & public service for Westbrook.

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