Community Action Works
Community Action Works

Maine’s victory for environmental justice

Last week, Maine got a new environmental justice law on the books to protect our communities from polluting landfills!

This victory is thanks to community leaders who identified this problem and set out to change it.

Here’s how a group of community leaders from Old Town, Argyle, Orono and the Penobscot Nation just brought Maine one step closer to environmental justice.

When a group of neighbors came together years ago to fight back against the biggest landfill in the state, they knew their fight wasn’t just about the pollution happening in their own backyard.

Community leaders spent countless hours researching the laws and regulations that determine where trash goes in, including how much trash is accepted from out-of-state, and they noticed a couple of things.

First, Maine has an out-of-state waste problem, thanks to a giant loophole that allows trash to cross the border into Maine, get mixed around with Maine trash, and then get ‘counted’ as Maine trash.

Through this loophole, out-of-state trash is taking up an estimated 40 percent of the space in the state’s largest landfill.

They also noticed something else: the communities most often polluted by Maine’s trash system are poor communities and communities of color.

Community leaders living next door to the state’s largest landfill, who together form the community group Don’t Waste ME, set out to change that. One way they did that was working with people across Maine to bring a citizens’ petition to the Board of Environmental Protection, which would close this loophole and create environmental justice rules for landfills.

Just last week, Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection voted to add an environmental justice standard that must be considered for all new or expanding landfills, a major victory that will make it harder to load trash into communities of color and poor communities across the state.

This is an incredible victory, and we’re not stopping here. No community should bear the brunt of polluting landfills, and Don’t Waste ME is now introducing legislation that would close the loophole and stop out-of-state waste from flooding our state.

We’ll keep you updated with ways you can take action in the coming months. Maine deserves better than to be the dumping ground of the Northeast, and together, we’ll get there.

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