Unanimously approved by the House and Senate, LD 1964 now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature
This week, the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate voted unanimously in support of the enactment of LD 1964, An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State. The vote in the House was 129 Yeas, zero Nays, and 19 absent. While the vote in the Senate was 33 Yeas, zero Nays, and one Excused.
LD 1964 was part of the triennial review process and implemented recommendations of the Board of Environmental Protection resulting from its review of the state’s water quality classification system and related water quality standards. As recommended by the board, the bill included specific updates to certain water quality standards and water quality classifications based on water quality data and the recommendations of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and other parties.
There were 51 recommendations put forward, and the Maine State Chamber had no opposition to many of these. However, we did submit testimony in opposition to Section 19, which deals with the Androscoggin River and the reclassification from the Worumbo Dam in Lisbon Falls to a line formed by the extension of the Bath-Brunswick boundaries across Merrymeeting Bay. Section 19 of LD 1964 reclassified this area from Class C to Class B. This is a smaller segment by about 20 miles than what was previously proposed in LD 676, An Act To Reclassify Part of the Androscoggin River to Class B.
While the shorter segment that was voted on is a positive compared to the original drafted language in LD 676, the Maine State Chamber remains concerned about future reclassifications upstream, which would have a greater impact on the river. We will be monitoring this issue as it will undoubtedly arise in a future legislative session and will likely have a greater negative impact then.
During the committee process, there was an attempt to add an amendment to reclassify the lower Presumpscot River from Class C to Class B. This would have significant impacts as well, and the Maine State Chamber was strongly opposed to its inclusion. It is important to note that the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) did not put this recommendation forward, and the Department of Environmental Protection was against this, which is why it is not in the bill as drafted. We are happy to report that this amendment was not included in the committee’s work, and it was not included in LD 1964 when the Legislature voted, which is a positive for the business community in Maine.
While the Maine State Chamber still has some concerns regarding future classification changes to the Androscoggin River, we view the vote on LD 1964 as a positive - because LD 1964 impacted a smaller segment for the Androscoggin River, and LD 676 did not move forward this legislative session. It is also a positive that the Presumpscot River change was not included. As we look toward future legislative sessions, the Maine State Chamber will keep a close eye on changes to river classifications. Maine’s business community supports a clean and healthy environment upheld by a robust regulatory framework that ensures we are stewards of our most precious resources. Our environmental policies should be based on science – including our river classifications. The business community needs consistency in its river classification regulations, because changes to the river’s classification impact many Maine jobs.
For additional information or questions, please contact Ben Lucas, government relations specialist, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 111, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.