Maine Governor Paul LePage To Roll Back Environmental Protections

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Paul LePage, the freshly inaugurated Republican governor of Maine who once said that he’d like to tell President Obama to “go to Hell” and recently told the NAACP to “kiss my butt”, has announced that he will be rolling back dozens of environmental protections in Maine to create a more “business-friendly” atmosphere. The governor’s office will be changing a minimum of 36 environmental laws in the upcoming months, with the possibility of more protections being scaled back as time goes on.

According to the Portland Press Herald, some of the proposed regulations include:
– Zoning 10 million acres of northern Maine for development.
– Repealing laws that require manufacturers to take back recyclable goods for disposal.
– Reversing a ban on the use of a chemical linked to cancer in children’s products.
– Making Maine’s environmental laws conform to less stringent federal standards. – Requiring a cost-benefit analysis for all rulemakings.
– Relaxing air emissions removal standards, especially for smaller projects.
– Replacing the BEP with a system of administrative judges who would hear appeals of state Department of Environmental Protection staff decisions.
– Allowing vertical building additions on sand dunes whether or not the entire building is on posts.

For those who followed LePage’s campaign last year, these new proposals come as no surprise. A Tea Party favorite (who frequently attended Tea Party rallies in his state,) LePage claimed on the campaign trail that “environmentalists have too much power” in Maine, and that he wanted environmental regulators to work with businesses rather than against them.

At a gathering in Yarmouth, Maine during his campaign, LePage described his vision of how state agencies would work under his control:

“Instead of having people going around enforcing the regulations, I would rather have customer-friendly state employees going out and helping you abide by the regulations. I don’t mind tough regulations. I just dislike an adversarial attitude by our state.”

Other environmental issues that LePage talked about during his campaign included opening up the Gulf of Maine to offshore oil drilling, and allowing expanded drilling for coal and natural gas within the state.

Until recent years, the state of Maine was plagued with environmental atrocities. According to environmental attorney Bill Townsend:

Our rivers stank. Pollution was rampant. People built dams where they damn pleased; people cut down forests where they damn pleased; people bulldozed the streams where they damn pleased…We’ve come a long way to get away to get away from that and I’m not willing to make a step one inch in the direction of going back to that.”

Environmental groups are prepared to challenge LePage’s current rollbacks, claiming that most of them are illegal. But don’t expect the governor to let his agenda be sidelined. He earned the nickname “LeRage” over the years due to his frequent violent outbursts against members of the press and others who oppose him, so we can expect any challenge to his proposals to be met with the same kind of fury.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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