Environmental Activism Right Now, in the US and in Maine

Lisa Pohlmann, left, with a community member

The executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine — an environmental nonprofit based in the state capital — visited Bowdoin last week to update students on current environmental threats and opportunities in Maine and across the country.

Lisa Pohlmann did not hesitate from telling students she believed President Trump poses unprecedented dangers to environmental causes. But she was also optimistic about the country’s ability to use the tools of democracy to block the most damaging policies.

“We predict that many of the Trump’s proposals will falter or be dropped, in part because they’re unconstitutional, and in part because we’ll all stand up and say, ‘Are you kidding me? No!’” Pohlmann said. She added later, “There is no mandate for environmental rollbacks. I don’t care what happens in any election.”

Pohlmann concluded with her assessment of environmental activism in the era of Trump and Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage. “The environmental community will be strong and probably stronger after [Trump’s presidency],” she said. “There will be hard-fought losses, no question about it. But state and local progress will happen no matter what.”

The current environmental picture

In her talk, sponsored by Sustainable Bowdoin, Pohlmann sketched out a few perils and possibilities that the environmental movement is targeting today. Here’s a quick rundown.

In the US

Pohlmann spoke about several proposals that have been made by President Trump or the Republican-controlled Congress that threaten environmental priorities. They include:

  • The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. “The Trump administration is determined to gut the EPA and they would like him to lead the effort to do that,” Pohlmann said.
  • Kill President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. “This was the one major federal action to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions from power plants across the country, which are the number one source of climate pollution,” Pohlmann said.
  • Allow the Keystone and Dakota oil pipelines
  • Withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate action
  • Dismantle environmental rules for coal power
  • Weaken fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks
  • Open public lands to gas and drilling
  • Scale back federal support for wind and solar
  • Limit the EPA’s ability to regulate in the future

In Maine

Pohlmann also outlined her agency’s agenda in Maine for the next year. She encouraged students to check out NRCM internships and entry-level jobs.

NRCM’s projects include:

  • Pass a proactive bill to prevent metallic mining beneath rivers and lakes, and to ensure that miners provide clean-up money ahead of time in the case of a sulfuric acid spill that pollutes water sources
  • Pass a comprehensive solar bill to provide more marketplace stability for businesses and residents
  • Increase recycling and decrease food waste
  • Help ensure the newly designated Katahdin National Monument is a a success
  • Work with local groups to pass town ordinances limiting single-use plastic bags, styrofoam, and pesticides

 

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