On Monday, January 10, the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) met for the first time of the Second Session. The purpose of this meeting was to have briefing updates on carryover bills from the First Session and then proceed to public hearings for new legislation. The ENR committee voted unanimously “ought not to pass” on LD 1532, An Act To Protect Maine's Air Quality by Strengthening Requirements for Air Emissions Licensing.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce opposed LD 1532 in the First Session when it was introduced and continued to oppose it as a carryover of concern. This bill would have changed the requirements for air emissions licensing, requiring licenses to be renewed every two years, instead of every 10 years, as is current law. It also would have required license holders to have a public forum every time they would need to renew their license and to notify every resident within a five-mile radius of the emissions site to come to the public forum to ask questions and concerns. This change would have been unnecessary and very problematic as it would have further complicated regulations for Maine businesses.
Along with the Maine State Chamber, this legislation was opposed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, several businesses that stepped up to testify on this issue, and a strong number of other business and trade associations. It was robust coalition of members in the business community who stepped up and opposed LD 1532.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce supports policies and regulations that create certainty for employers. The Maine DEP does a good job of enforcing a robust air emissions regulatory environment, and it already monitors air quality across the state and has the authority to address potential air quality issues. LD 1532 would have impacted hundreds of hospitals, colleges, and businesses with air permits and the hundreds of thousands of Mainers who use their products and services. In addition to impact across businesses and institutions across Maine, LD 1532’s requirements would have likely overwhelmed the department administratively and would have created a regulatory infrastructure that would not necessarily deliver better protections for our environment. The department would have spent more time interpreting overly burdensome regulations and not on enforcement of current regulations.
The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Victoria Morales (D-South Portland), decided that she needed more time to collect data on the issue and determined right now was not the time to move forward with this legislation. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the ENR committee for voting ONTP on LD 1532, and we look forward to the full legislature accepting this report when it meets on Wed., January 26 in Augusta. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact Ben Lucas by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 111, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.