Legislative Update – January 19, 2024

This week was quiet on the legislative front for the Council; a welcome change of pace to help us gather our bearings in preparation for a next week. As you will see below, we will be testifying on several bills. Two of them – LD 1349 on and LD 2077 – are of particular concern.

Please consider joining us to testify (either remotely or in person) or submitting testimony. Instructions on how to do so are included below under the ‘Public Hearings’ section of this newsletter.

On Monday, the Council will testify in opposition to LD 1349, “An Act to Review State Lands and Waterways That Have Sacred, Traditional or Other Significance to the Wabanaki People.” This bill seeks to establish a Commission to review the State’s public land and water resources, develop a process to relinquish ownership of these resources to the tribes, and identify resources to pay for these transfers.

The Council is particularly concerned with the transfer of water resources. State-owned waters includes most of the land that is covered by water (coastal waters out to the three-mile territorial limit, tidal rivers, nontidal navigable rivers and streams, boundary rivers and great ponds.

The transfer of these valued resources would impact all Maine residents, and could be especially problematic for our pulp and paper mills, municipal treatment facilities and dam operations (two tribes are currently holding up the FERC relicensing process for the Shawmut Dam).

This bill is linked to the ongoing concern the Council has about the tribes seeking independent regulatory control of natural resources through a push for increased sovereignty.

Transferring public lands and waters to the tribes would mean that they would be governed by tribal ownership rights, and Maine residents and industries would be excluded from the process. For these reasons, we are opposing this bill, and we ask you to consider doing the same.


Tuesday the Council will be testifying in opposition to two bills before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee (listed below). We are requesting your help in opposing one of themLD 2077, “An Act Regarding Customer Costs and the Environmental and Health Effects of Natural Gas.”

Submitted on behalf of the public advocate, this bill would prohibit any costs associated with new gas service mains or lines from inclusion in rates. It would also prohibit the PUC from approving a gas utility to furnish service or serve customers in municipalities that are outside of their current service area; and prohibit gas utilities from providing promotional offers to potential customers, among other things.

The Council has a number of concerns with this bill, but primarily we are concerned that it would threaten the viability of gas utility companies that service industrial consumers by limiting their residential client base, and therefore, their businesses. Industrial manufacturing requires reliable sources of baseload power (CHP, hydropower or natural gas) to power operations. We cannot rely on intermittent sources such as solar or wind to operate production; the technology simply isn’t there yet. We are also limited by the high thermal needs in the operation of our lime kilns that, to date, can only be satisfied with biomass, natural gas or oil. The industry has moved away from oil, but will need natural gas until other sources of lower emitting energy can be developed.

If LD 2077 were to pass, it would have a chilling effect on our $8 billion forest products industry that sustains 33,500, and on collaborative efforts to attract new investments and businesses to the forest products industry. For these reasons, please consider joining us to testify in opposition to LD 2077.


As always, if you have any questions about these bills or any others, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Pat and Krysta

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