The Maine Legislature will vote very soon on L.D. 489, the Pine Tree Amendment. This constitutional amendment would guarantee the people of Maine the right to clean air and water and a healthy environment. It would also ensure that Maine businesses will have those same rights. 

The Pine Tree Amendment says this: “The people of the state have the right to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural, and healthful qualities of the environment. The state may not infringe upon these rights. The state shall conserve, protect and maintain the state’s natural resources, including but not limited to, its air, water, land, and ecosystems for the benefit of all people, including generations yet to come.”

Richard Nelson, a retired fisherman out of Friendship Harbor, lives and works in a business in a community that relies on its natural and environmental resources. He says that the people of Friendship Harbor have a history of managing fisheries.

Nelson told me,” We have to protect the environment because we are reliant on it.” The Pine Tree Amendment could help participants in the fishing industry and other industries alike ensure their voices are heard in local and state governance.

Businesses have a long history of taking care of the state’s natural resources. The Pine Tree Amendment would help them do that effectively. 

The Pine Tree Amendment would give the people and businesses of Maine a leg up to protect the beautiful resources of our state. It would give us a way to protect our state’s natural resources and grow our economy. Maine’s identity and its businesses are based – more than ever before – on its natural assets. Think about it: Agriculture, forestry and fishing are its traditional industries, but now it has cruise ships, outdoor recreation of all kinds, hospitality, tourism and travel. New residents are moving to Maine because of its clean air, clean water and healthy environment. Tourists are coming to the state in droves because of the wonders and beauty of its resources.

The Pine Tree Amendment would provide a navigational aid to policy makers to guide legislation. It would put citizen environmental rights front and center. In 2009, the Legislature approved a bill called the Quality of Place, which was designed to build Maine’s economy based on its strengths. The legislation allowed the state to prioritize funding for projects that strengthened Maine’s natural assets. But the next Legislature and governor repealed the law in 2011. The lesson here is that laws are not permanent. The Pine Tree Amendment would provide a permanent backstop to sustain the state’s environmental laws and help businesses thrive.

Maine’s people and businesses depend on a clean and healthy environment. So, it is right and appropriate that our environmental rights be protected with the same legal strength as the political, civil, property and human rights we hold dear. Doing so will help ensure that business owners, many of whom rely on those natural resources, are able to continue to do our jobs, and to support our families and the state of Maine as a whole.

Please help protect the state that we love and the natural resources that are the basis of the Maine economy and its businesses. Urge your state representative and senator to vote in favor of the Pine Tree Amendment.