Author Archives: Sierra Fletcher

What’s a Mother for? Mainers Speak Out for Product Stewardship

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.

Karen Fletcher
Freeport , Maine
February 9, 2011

Regulatory Fairness and Reform Committee
Public Hearing

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.

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.

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Recommendations on the Safe Collection, Transport, and Disposal of Controlled Substances

I wanted to share the endorsed comments I provided for the Product Stewardship Institute at the DEA’s public hearing yesterday. Thank you to the 119 endorsers for helping me to deliver the message that these considerations for the DEA’s rulemaking process are widely supported by groups concerned about the future and improvement of drug take-back programs around the country. The DEA, EPA, FDA, ONDCP, CMS, and USPS were all present. Congressman Jay Inslee from Washington opened the second day.


In two days of comments by both federal agencies and members of the public (including local government, state government, waste companies, reverse distributors, data companies, environmental organizations, law enforcement, pharmacies and pharmacists, drug abuse prevention groups, poison control, academic institutions, the pharmaceutical industry, and on incredibly moving grieving father), a number of themes were repeated by multiple presenters:

  • Communities need a range of options for secure disposal of controlled substances and other pharmaceutical drugs. Those mentioned included collection at pharmacy and other community locations, mail-back from the home, and HHW.
  • Take-back programs (including all methods described above) should be able to include both controlled and non-controlled substances without sorting them.
  • Take-back programs must be convenient and accessible to the public.
  • Security to prevent diversion is critical, including tracking of containers, tamper evident seals, locked containers, and other such measures.
  • Regulations should not require that individual pills/vials/etc. be counted and logged.

In addition, the question of who should pay for take-back programs was brought up many times in spite of the fact that this important question lies outside of the DEA’s responsibility under this rulemaking. There were many references to needing “public-private partnerships,” support/sponsorship from companies, and/or calling on the pharmaceutical industry to fund take-back programs. The importance of reducing drug waste was also mentioned. We look forward to seeing and commenting on the DEA’s proposed rule-making in the near future.

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PSI Recommendations for Rulemaking under CSA Amendment

I get 10 minutes in front of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) next week to drive home some key points about what they can do to help make drug take-back easier and less expensive. DEA is in the process of developing regulations under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (see the fact sheet), which we all helped to pass.
Please help me to state your case by endorsing the Recommendations on the Safe Collection, Transport, and Disposal of Controlled Substances statement. This is an updated version of the one we developed in 2009 which was very effective in promoting the changed in federal law. I was told by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that having an updated document and an even longer endorsement list would be very helpful. In addition to bringing this to DEA, I will share it with this key coordinating agency.
We are seeking 100 endorsements by Tuesday morning at 9:30 am EASTERN. Yes, timing is tight, but we want to capture any and all of you out there who are able to turn this around quickly! To sign up as an endorser, please email me at
Thank you all very much! I encourage you to share this with others who are concerned with this issue. Agencies, organizations, and companies are all welcome!

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