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Protecting Our Coasts and Ocean

This blog post discusses our efforts on Hill Day and the discussions we had with our representatives on Offshore Drilling, Protecting Clean Water and Preventing Plastic Pollution.

Meeting with Maine's Representatives

Last week, the Policy Committee met with Maine's representatives from the Senate and House to discuss protecting our coasts and ocean. We had the opportunity to meet with Senator Susan Collins, Representative Jared Golden, Senator Angus King, and Representative Chellie Pingree, who all gave us thirty minutes of their time to hear our perspective on the issues and ways in which they could help move things forward.

Impact of Offshore Drilling on Coastal Communities

Maine's ocean, coastlines, and coastal communities are already being impacted by climate change. We are experiencing extreme weather, sea level rise, erosion, and acidification, which are all affecting our environment, wildlife, communities, workers, and businesses. The threat of new offshore oil and gas leasing further exacerbates these issues. It is crucial to take action to protect our coasts and ocean by passing the COAST Anti-Drilling Act.

Threats from Sewage Spills and Stormwater Runoff on Water

Sewage spills and stormwater runoff pose a significant threat to the health of beachgoers and coastal ecosystems, not only in Maine but across the US. These conditions are expected to worsen with more extreme weather events, flooding, and sea level rise, which can overwhelm sewer and wastewater systems. To address this, we asked our representatives to support increased federal funding for the BEACH Act, which would help improve the beach water quality testing program run by the Maine Dept. of Health. However, we are currently limited by the number of volunteers we have for Surfrider's Blue Water Task Force, which provides water testing and monitoring at several beaches in the off-season.

Support for the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act

Plastic pollution is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. More than 17 billion pounds of plastic already litter our oceans, breaking down into microplastics and nano plastics. These tiny particles are now found in our food, drinking water, and even throughout the human body. Plastic pellets, also known as nurdles, are the building blocks of nearly all plastic goods. Shockingly, current laws allow plastic producers and shippers to discharge trillions of these plastic pellets directly into our waterways and oceans with little to no enforcement. We urged our legislators to support the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, which would clearly prohibit the release of plastic nurdles.

Continued Advocacy and Follow-Up

Our conversations with our representatives were productive, and they have expressed their willingness to consider our perspectives on these important issues. The door remains open as we continue to engage with them and advocate for their support on the COAST Anti-Drilling Act, increased funding for the BEACH Act, and the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act. We will be following up with each office for updates and to provide any support that we can to help get these pieces of legislation across the finish line.