RadioActive 2/19/15

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: EPA Decision: Maine Water Quality Standards are Not Protective of Tribes; The Environmental Impacts of Metallic Mining as Maine looks to Open the State for Irving Project

Key Discussion Points:

a) On February 2nd, the US EPA issued a decision that the state of Maine’s water quality standards are not stringent enough in tribal waters. Maine has been directed to strengthen these standards in compliance with protection of tribal sustenance fishing rights under the federal Clean Water Act.

b) We speak with Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis on the importance of this decision to the tribe. And we look at the State of Maine’s inflamatory public relations offensive, primarily through Pierce Atwood attorney Matt Manahan, to re-frame the issue as a tribal power grab that will cost dischargers all along the Penobscot River millions of dollars. We also look at the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, and a landmark case currently in the courts, Penobscot Nation v Mills, in which the Penobscot Nation is suing the Maine Attorney General’s office for it’s 2012 attempt to disassociate the water flowing through the Penobscot Nation from it’s tribal territory.

c) We also hear part of a presentation on the environmental destruction caused by metallic mining, given by Nick Bennett, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Maine lawmakers are attempting to rush through previously rejected DEP rules that would open Maine to metallic mining. LD 146, is being hopscotched over the requirement under Maine’s Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA) that proposed rule changes must have a public hearing before the DEP, prior to proceeding to the legislature. Proponents of the rule changes say, the MAPA requirements can be worked around. The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is holding it’s public hearing on LD 146 on February 25th, at 9am at the Augusta State House.

Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation,
Nick Bennett, staff scientist, Natural Resources Council of Maine