You know when your parents grow up and you realize that they’ve been listening to you all along?! On Tuesday, my Mom attended a packed-house ‘listening session’ on the new Maine governor’s controversial proposals for regulatory reform. These proposals have made news around the country, as all of us who have been following Maine’s leadership on product stewardship watch with bated breath to see what will happen under this new administration.
Mainers are speaking out, and showing up in droves at listening sessions around the state. My Mom ended up handing in her prepared remarks in writing after three hours of waiting to deliver them yesterday. I’m proud of her and other Mainers who are not policy wonks steeped in “product stewardship” and “EPR,” just people who have common sense, passion for family and community, and the perspective of how time and our actions change the places we love, both for better and for worse.
Even though we don’t talk “EPR,” “waste hierarchy,” and “federal preemption” much around the dinner table, these are the themes I hear loud and clear in my mom’s remarks, below. She taught me to stand up for myself and my beliefs, take responsibility for my actions, and clean my room every Saturday morning. To me, these themes are also present in her remarks. Maybe it’s really that I’ve been listening to her all along!
Go Mom, and go Maine.
Freeport , Maine
February 9, 2011
Regulatory Fairness and Reform Committee
Senator Courtney and Committee members:
My name is Karen Fletcher. I am a resident of Freeport, Maine. I am here today representing myself.
I want to begin by thanking you for your public service…and for your participation in the continuing process of trying to ensure regulatory fairness. I am in favor of transparency, fairness, effectiveness and efficiency…goals that are part of the stated intent of your committee. These goals must be fair for ALL of Maine…and not just for the one sector.
I am NOT in favor of reforms that benefit an individual segment of our society at the expense of our air, our water, our quality of life, and our own health and well being as well as that of future generations.
When I read Phase I of Governor’s Regulatory Reform proposals on the Governor’s website, I marked it up with many, many notes, some question marks, and quite a few exclamation points. I am here today to share my fear that this current round of regulatory reform could lead to roll backs to the “bad old days.” Given the restrictions on time, and the more eloquent speakers here today, I will address two areas that arise in more than one of the proposals.
- Standards: The governor’s regulatory reform proposals discuss having Maine’s regulations “conform” to Federal standards. I believe that Maine should consider Federal standards to be minimum standards and that we should meet them. But I also believe that Maine should exceed those standards when our individual and unique needs require that we do so. Federal standards have to accommodate the great diversity of the United States. Maine standards have to be sure to continue to protect the uniqueness of our environment and the needs of our people. If that means that we have a higher standard…good for us! (Using this same logic, I support the option of municipal standards that might exceed state standards.)
- Consumer Products: The governor’s regulatory reform proposals also call for reviewing all recycling and take back statues ensuring that “manufacturers do not have to pay to recycle their consumer products”. As I read this section…and I ended up with many exclamation points… there were two images that came to my mind. One was from the past: the open, burning dump that we used to go to every Saturday morning when we moved to Maine 34 years ago. (I am proud to say we have a very active recycling center). The other image was from that very morning: I had been working on our income tax forms and had to replace the ink cartridge in the printer. When I opened the package there was a mailer to return the used cartridge for recycling. How great was that! It was easy for me to do the right thing; I thought good thoughts about the manufacturer (Hewlett Packard); and it was certainly better for the environment. Oh, and, I have no illusion that anyone other than I paid for the cost of the mailer as I am sure the manufacturer passed that cost along to me.
In conclusion, as you continue the process of reviewing the proposed changes in regulations, please, please, please be sure that you keep Maine moving forward with regulatory reforms that build on the environmental protections that have been developed over decades by bipartisan, cooperative, efforts engaging all sectors of our society.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns.