Alliance For A Clean & Healthy Maine  [Printer-friendly version]
August 16, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Maine Goveror John Baldacci has appointed a
13-member task force that will develop recommendations for a
comprehensive chemicals policy for Maine. The policy will reportedly
require safer substitutes for hazardous chemicals found in consumer
products and create incentives to develop safer alternatives on a
state and regional basis.]

The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, a coalition of health-
affected groups and public health, labor, environmental, grassroots,
and professional organizations, applauded Governor John Baldacci on
convening for the first time today the Governor's Task Force to
Promote Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products.

Gov. Baldacci appointed 13 Mainers to the Task Force which will
develop recommendations for a comprehensive chemicals policy for Maine
(see list of members below). The policy will require safer substitutes
for hazardous chemicals found in consumer products and create
incentives to develop safer alternatives on a state and regional
basis. The Task Force was created through an Executive Order issued
in February 2006 that also requires state government to avoid
purchasing of products that contain chemicals known to cause cancer or
that build up in the environment and people's bodies.

Three members of the Alliance are on the task force. Nick Bennett,
staff scientist of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, will
represent environmental groups. Mike Belliveau, director of the
Environmental Health Strategy Center, will represent public health
groups. Sharon Tisher, who teaches environmental law at the University
of Maine, will represent the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine.

Says Bennett, "Data from countless studies show persistent, toxic
chemicals in places they shouldn't be: in human breast milk, the blood
of newborn babies, whales, eagles, and peregrine falcons, to name a
few. This task force can help Maine stop using these types of
chemicals and push the chemical industry to make safer products that
won't contaminate our citizens and wildlife."

The task force will also work on increasing research and development
of safer alternatives to priority chemicals in consumer products,
including investment in "green chemistry." This initiative could mean
a new natural resource-based industry for the state, such as plastics
made from Maine potatoes and other agricultural and forest products.

Tisher pointed to current work in this area. "The University of
Maine's new $10.35 million forest biorefinery research rogram is well
positioned to produce alternatives to petroleum products -- including
safer plastics -- from our renewable forests," she said. "Maine
researchers are also developing proposals to research the feasibility
of producing plastics from Maine waste potatoes. These projects will
help us get off the oil treadmill, and mean growth for the Maine
economy. The task force will explore ways to give economic and policy
support for these projects, emphasizing the development of both safer
and more sustainable technologies."

The executive order also directs state agencies to educate consumers
about safer alternatives to using hazardous chemicals at home. It
highlights important regional and statewide programs to phase out the
use of mercury, lead and other toxic substances.

Belliveau applauded Baldacci "for recognizing that our chemical safety
system is broken, threatening the health of children and workers from
daily exposure to industrial chemicals used in everyday products like
TVs and toys."

Belliveau noted that thirty years after passage of the federal Toxics
Substances Control Act, only six hazardous chemicals have been
restricted, and the vast majority has never been tested for health and
safety hazards.

"We need a new chemicals policy that acts on early warnings and
requires safer alternatives to unnecessary toxic chemicals," he said.
"The Governor's Task Force will take the important first step of
developing recommended legislation and incentives to promote safer
chemicals to protect Maine families."


Members Appointed by Maine Governor John Baldacci to the Governor's
Task Force on Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products:


David Littell, Commissioner, Maine Department of Environmental

Janet Yancey-Wrona, Director, Maine Office of Innovation, Department
of Economic and Community Development; and State Science Advisor

Deborah Rice, Toxicologist, Maine Center for Disease Control and

Kathy Murray, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, Maine Department
of Agriculture


Stacie Beyer, Environmental Manager, Interface Inc. (Interface
Fabrics/Guilford of Maine)

Mark Dobrovolny, Operations Director, Tom's of Maine

Steven Pinette, SW Cole Engineering, representing Energy &
Environmental Technology Council


Mike Belliveau, Executive Director, Environmental Health Strategy

Nick Bennett, Staff Scientist, Natural Resources Council of Maine

Sharon Tisher, professor of environmental law, University of Maine,
representing Alliance for a Clean & Healthy Maine

OTHER (Labor, Academic, Public):

Dana Graham, President, Maine State Employees Association

John Wise, Director, Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health,
University of Southern Maine

Melinda Davis, public member