During the 1960s Maine’s environmental movement made some headway by publicizing facts about industrial and municipal pollution routinely dumped into the rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. In the 1970s the state legislature responded by passing laws regulating clean water and air, land development, pesticide use, protection of wetlands, and many other issues. Many of Maine’s environmental laws have become models for other states. Despite these successes, environmental efforts have conflicted with business interests, particularly two of the state’s biggest industries, paper and tourism. Many industries have not been eager to pay the cost of cleaning up the environment.
Opponents of environmental mandates frame the debate as “pickerel vs. payroll,” arguing that the choice is between environmental issues and jobs. Supporters argue that eliminating many pollutants, such as the paper industry’s most carcinogenic pollutant, dioxin, used in bleaching the paper, does not threaten jobs. The tourist industry, by its success, also puts pressure on the environment, particularly along the coast, where huge summer crowds strain everything from small-town septic systems to air quality. Yet, a pristine environment is clearly important to the tourist industry as most visitors come to Maine to enjoy unspoiled nature. While tourism has been an important part of Maine’s economy since the 19th century, the state faces a question of whether further development of the industry would be self-defeating. Environmental concerns have also been raised regarding the generation of electrical power.
In November 1997 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River near Augusta negatively affected water quality and the migration of spawning salmon and other fish. The agency ordered the owners to demolish the structure at their own expense. The dam was demolished in 1999. "Maine" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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