Maine has a deeply rooted environmental ethic. As the recently concluded legislative session demonstrated, actions that benefit our environment can also support our communities and economy.

During this session, thousands of Mainers spoke up and took action to protect our environment; strengthen the resiliency of local communities; protect clean water and threatened wildlife; and accelerate a more just clean energy future.

Legislators listened. Together with Gov. Janet Mills, they passed a wide variety of new laws that recognize Maine’s environment and economy are inextricably linked.

None of this was done in isolation. These new common-sense policies are the result of months of listening, learning, collaboration and consensus that have become the hallmark of Maine’s unique approach to environmental protection.

Organized labor, a key fisheries group and conservationists partnered with the Mills administration and lawmakers to pass a historic offshore wind bill that will responsibly develop this reliable clean energy source while balancing the needs of workers and local fishing communities.

Passage of the offshore wind bill may long be remembered as one of the most effective actions Maine has ever taken to generate clean energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Lawmakers also passed many other significant measures that reinforce Maine’s brand as a state that balances our environment and our economy.


Redemption centers and craft breweries joined with conservationists to hammer out the components of a bill that will modernize the Bottle Bill, our most effective recycling and litter prevention program. The new law simplifies the program, making it more efficient while incorporating technological advances and investments to expand the use of refillable containers. Our efforts saved jobs and businesses by passing emergency legislation to increase the handling fee – at no expense to taxpayers – to make it more feasible for redemption centers to remain open in the face of rising costs.

Many of the bills enacted in the 2023 legislative session were priorities of Maine’s nonprofit public health, environment, and social service organizations, many of whom make up the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Nearly 300 towns, local organizations, snowmobile and ATV enthusiasts, hiking groups and businesses came together to call for a Maine Trails Bond that would, for the first time ever, invest in the maintenance and construction of trails statewide. The proposal was carried over until next year, but the movement to continue Maine’s role as a national trails leader is just getting started.

This is what Mainers do. We come together, despite our differences, with a common purpose to strengthen the health of Maine’s communities by ensuring a thriving environment now and into the future. We are deeply connected to the mountains, forests, rivers and coastline that define our way of life.

Of course, we can never take any of this for granted. Natural gas companies wanted to undermine local choice by preventing towns from adopting policies that save money, conserve energy and reduce reliance on expensive oil and gas. We stopped them.

Other proposals would have moved Maine backward. One bill would have terminated Maine’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags; another would have implemented the most aggressive rollback of solar energy in the country. We stopped them, too, but only because everyday Mainers spoke up to hold corporate polluters accountable and to make sure our state continues on the trajectory of 100% renewable energy by 2040.

We are all united by our love of Maine’s outdoors, and we must use this unity to ensure justice for all. Unfortunately, for the second session in a row, legislation that would have advanced tribal sovereignty for the tribes in Maine was delayed or defeated. The environmental community remains a steadfast supporter of the Wabanaki people’s quest for full sovereignty so they can be treated as fairly and equitably as every other tribe in the nation. Achieving full sovereignty is a moral imperative that we will not give up on.

Mainers should be proud to have worked so successfully to accomplish big things. Yet again, this legislative session showed that by acting on climate and strengthening the health of our environment, we are securing a better future for all of us.

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