In a Hard Year for Sustainability, Here Are Some of the Bright Spots for 2017

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Despite the U.S.’s Paris Accord exit and plenty of negatives for the environment there are reasons to hope.

Author: Mary Pols | Published: December 24, 2017

When it comes to protecting the planet and fighting to turn back the ticking clock on climate change, 2017 has not been pretty. In fact, if we listed everything that happened that will likely harm the environment, you’d get depressed. But around Maine in the course of this year, there were many positive actions and events in the world of sustainability.

This is not to downplay the impacts of the United States leaving the Paris Accord, the agreement by pretty much the entire rest of the globe to reduce emissions and fight climate change together. Or what it means to have a person like Scott Pruitt, a lawyer with an extensive history of suing the Environmental Protection Agency to halt federal regulations, heading an agency designed to protect the environment (it’s right there in the name).

But given the bad news rampant in 2017, we wanted to emphasize some tidings of good cheer on Christmas Eve.

OUT OF THE WOODS

It was a nail biter of a year for the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. In June, the new U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, charged by the Trump administration with reviewing 27 national monuments designated since 1996, toured the monument. Designated as a national monument in August 2016 by President Barack Obama after years of debate over its future, Katahdin Woods and Waters represents an 87,500-acre gift from the family of Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees. It’s been controversial. Gov. Paul LePage dislikes it intensely; he once dismissed the region the monument is in as Maine’s “mosquito area.”

In August, leaks of a draft report suggested that Zinke would support the brand-new monument, but some speculated that he might push for logging beyond forest management. Earlier this month, with the release of Zinke’s final report, that speculation was put to rest: He supports the monument and no logging will be allowed.

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