When public laws are made and enforced in a thorough, inclusive, and fair manner, those laws work better for everyone

Fair and effective environmental policymaking means Maine people can trust the process and count on transparency. It means Maine’s environmental laws represent the best research, the highest consideration of individual and community needs, and the closest reflection of our shared environmental priorities that support our economy and our quality of life.

vision-icon.png A Vision for Fair and Effective Policymaking

Maine’s environment plays a central role in the lives of Maine people, making it essential that environmental laws and rules are developed and enforced fairly and effectively. We can make Maine a place where there is 100% confidence in the policy-making process and 100% assurance that laws will be strictly and evenly enforced. We can make sure there is easy access to information about where and how environmental laws are applied, and we can create a system that ensures the funding for environmental systems and structures is both adequate and appropriately matched to our short and long-term priorities.

today-icon.png Today in Maine

Maine people have a deep connection to the environment and place a high value on its preservation and protection. Unfortunately, the laws and rules that make this possible are often under assault – directly and indirectly – and their enforcement can be inconsistent and uneven. Today in Maine it can be extremely difficult for the public to access enforcement data. In fact, too much enforcement of environmental law happens through administrative consent agreements between the violator and the agency. This limits local awareness and diminishes confidence in the effectiveness of Maine’s environmental policies.

In the process of passing new policies or updating those already in place, many environmental standards and policies are subject to lobbying and political influence. This has become particularly acute in recent years as the Legislature has relied more heavily on major substantive rule-making, rather than trusting the implementation of new laws to the expertise and public process administered by state agencies.

Today in Maine, funding for environmental priorities has been significantly reduced, in both general budgets for operating expenses and bonding for infrastructure investments, even as management and regulation responsibilities have grown. This “do more with less” paradigm has left state agencies stretched to the breaking point as they struggle to take on essential tasks.

needed-icon.png What's Needed

Maine’s approach to environmental lawmaking and enforcement could make the difference between a future of prosperity and one of lost opportunities and environmental degradation. We need to ensure strong and fair enforcement of environmental laws by creating a process that is more rigorous, vigorous, transparent, and encouraging of citizen participation. Our environmental regulations must be applied fairly, equitably, and across the board – eliminating special treatment of those with political power. And we need to ensure our environmental policies are grounded in scientific research, with minimal political interference.

To ensure we are adequately addressing our environmental priorities in the next five years, we need additional resources, including more open use of bonding, to help preserve Maine’s special places, maintain our environmental facilities, and invest in capital projects that benefit the environment.

hiking-action-icon.png Take Action

Transparency

  • Create a transparency system that allows easier access to reports of violations and reports of enforcement efforts , including citizen access to compliance information online

Funding

  • Provide adequate staff and resources for agencies charged with protecting Maine’s land, air, waters, and wildlife
  • Develop criteria, a roadmap, and a timeline for future bonding that will address Maine’s environmental infrastructure needs

Enforcement

  • Create a multi-agency enforcement team that addresses specific settings and sectors rather than individual permit holders
  • Evaluate Maine’s state agencies to ensure there are the systems and institutional supports in place to fully enforce environmental laws and regulations
  • Improve regulatory agencies’ support of citizen participation
  • Ensure that all Maine’s natural resources meet state and federal standards