Last week, the Maine House voted to ban bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastics — much to the regret of beard-wanting ladies all over Maine. (To be fair, after initially being flip about BPA's effect on women and children, Governor Paul LePage took a neutral stance at the bill hearing.) The Senate followed suit Tuesday morning.
A legislative committee voted against a bill that would have expanded commuter bus service between Portland, Lewiston, Augusta, and Southern Maine.
A state judge struck down the years-in-the-making rezoning plan between Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission and Plum Creek that called for 1000 houses and two resorts in Maine's North Woods, sending it back for additional public hearings and re-opening a rift between state environmental organizations.
Many of LePage's environmental-protection "reforms" (i.e. rollbacks) were knocked out of the regulatory bill, LD 1, released last week.
Another bill puts the state's energy-efficiency building codes in jeopardy.
In other words, as Earth Day — next Friday, April 22 — looms on the horizon, there are things to celebrate and challenge; there's no room for complacency, not on the eco-front.
Here's a brief round-up of some local events aimed at re-invigorating our commitment to sustainable living.
• MENSK, the city of Portland, and the Flintstone Car project are teaming up for URBAN EARTH DAY in Monument Square, a craft-street performance-green organization fair that'll go from 11 am to 6 pm (menskmaine.org). We hope the Flintstone model will be on display: the Bedrock Bus runs on a combination of people power, biodiesel fuel, and solar and electric power (flintstonecar.com).
• In honor of Earth Day, from April 17-23 PORTLAND POWER YOGA is donating five percent of class fees to MAINE AUDUBON, and Maine Audubon members will receive a free class (portlandpoweryoga.com).
• Farther north, in Brunswick, join THE NATURE CONSERVANCY'S PICNIC FOR THE PLANET campaign, a celebration of the planet and eco-friendly food going on in more than 300 cities worldwide. They'll be "picnicking" indoors (it is April in Maine, after all) at the Frontier Café; part of the proceeds go to TNC (earthday.nature.org). Frontier is also showing terrific documentaries as part of its "ECOCINEMA" series all week (explorefrontier.com).
• On The Day After Earth Day (when, gasp, going green still matters), PORTLAND TRAILS hopes to plant 101 dogwood trees on Bayside Trail.
• On The Day Before Earth Day (still matters), THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MAINE will host "EARTH DAY EXTRAVAGANZA: I AM PART OF MY ENVIRONMENT!" at which kids can investigate animal homes and plant seeds in a greenhouse (kitetails.org).
• Speaking of planting seeds, it's time to start cultivating our gardens. Check out the UNIVERSITY OF MAINE'S COOPERATIVE EXTENSION pages on horticulture (extension.maine.edu/gardening) for tips on vegetable and container gardening. (I'll have more about my own container-gardening efforts next month.) Or visit O'Donal's Nursery in Gorham, which offers organic growing workshops — and sells all the supplies you need to get started (odonalsnurseries.com).
• Need more inspiration as Earth Day nears? Check out SPACE Gallery's impressive FOOD + FARM 2011 line-up this weekend. Thursday through Sunday, they've got foodies (Anna Lappe, author of Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It); farmers (a screening of The Greenhorns, a documentary about young farmers, is scheduled for Saturday evening, followed by a discussion with director Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a New York-based farmer, activist and organizer); and hands-on elements (a farm day in Cape Elizabeth with Cultivating Community, and city gardening workshops with the Urban Farm Fermentory). Learn more and reserve tickets at space538.org.
Deirdre Fulton can be reached at email@example.com.