Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paper companies back Maine DEP plan to rescind smog rules

As reported earlier this week, the administration of Maine Gov. Paul LePage is seeking to rescind some key smog pollution rules currently abided by across the northeast. The measure is strongly opposed by environmentalists and, now, Democratic legislators and both of Mr. LePage's principle rivals in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

But as I report today, the measures are receiving strong support from Maine's pulp and paper industry, which say the rules have no environmental benefit and will cost them millions as they convert many of their mills from fuel oil to (cleaner) natural gas. Read about their case -- and the counter-arguments -- in today's Portland Press Herald.

The head of the state agency that is proposing the changes, environmental protection commissioner and former Pierce Atwood industrial lobbyist Patricia Aho, was the subject of my seven month, five-part investigative series published over three days in mid-June. It revealed how many policies and actions Aho has undertaken have benefited her former lobbying clients in the chemical, drug, oil, waste management, and real estate development industries.

As reported today, Pierce Atwood currently represents the Maine Pulp and Paper Association, and in the past Aho has been a registered lobbyist for the association and two of its member paper companies.

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