Roundup: Enviro group backs Collins, poll trashes government and northern Maine a very difficult home

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and her 2014 Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows. Reuters photo (Collins) by Joshua Roberts. BDN photo (Bellows) by Troy Bennett.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and her 2014 Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows. Reuters photo (Collins) by Joshua Roberts. BDN photo (Bellows) by Troy Bennett.

Collins endorsement by conservation group angers Bellows

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund on Monday endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for re-election to the Maine Senate, citing Collins’ fight against climate change and efforts to protect the environment in Maine and beyond.

Shenna Bellows, Collins’ Democratic opponent in the November election, said the facts don’t line up behind the organization’s endorsement of Collins, who has received a lifetime 67 percent score from the organization. That’s just three points higher than the score that put Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash — who at the time was running in the 2nd Congressional District’s Democratic primary — on the organization’s “Dirty Dozen” list.

“Protecting the status quo won’t protect the environment for the next generation,” said Bellows in a prepared statement. “I’ve been a consistent voice for renewable energy, stronger clean air and water standards and an end to the Keystone XL Pipeline project, and I’ll proudly stack my environmental values against Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins and any other Washington Republican.”

Portland City Councilor and former Democratic state Rep. Jon Hinck said the LCV was “falling into the incumbent protection trap.”

Collins, who earned highest score given to a Senate Republican on the League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard, is the only Senate Republican who has earned the LCV’s endorsement in the current election cycle.

Maine Conservation Voters President Daniel Amory said in a prepared statement that his organization supports the decision by its parent entity.

“Senator Collins has for years worked across the aisle to support a number of environmental initiatives,” said Amory. “She has voted against bills that attempt to take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, and she has been a leader in addressing our changing climate.”

UPDATE (10 a.m. July 1, 2014) Collins said in a prepared statement that she understands the importance of protecting the environment like most other Mainers.

“The people of Maine have always been faithful stewards of our environment because we understand its tremendous value to our way of life,” said Collins. “Domestic, affordable, clean energy solutions, improved efficiency, environmental protections, and conservation, will benefit the natural beauty of Maine, improve public health and help ensure a higher quality of life for ourselves and future generations.”

New Gallup poll finds approval for all three branches of government shrinking

The results of a new Gallup poll released Monday shows that confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, including record lows for the Supreme Court (30 percent) and Congress (7 percent), and a six-year low for the presidency (29 percent).


Confidence in President Barack Obama was found to be lower than that of either President Clinton or President G.W. Bush during their sixth years in their presidencies. That’s despite Obama beginning his first term with a confidence level of 51 percent — higher than either of his two predecessors. By the end of his second term, Bush’s confidence rating had dipped to 26 percent after a high of 58 percent in his second year.

“At this point, Americans place much greater faith in the military and the police than in any of the three branches of government,” reads a Gallup press release.

New York Times says northern Maine is a very hard place to live
Source: New York Times/The Upshot

Source: New York Times/The Upshot

Northern, central and eastern Maine are some of the hardest places in the northeast to live, based on an interesting analysis last week by the New York Times.

Particularly in Somerset, Aroostook and Washington Counties, life is hard. According to the analysis, which is based on unemployment, education, income and health data, you’d have to travel all the way to north-central Pennsylvania to find somewhere where life is harder than it is in some of Maine’s rural counties. On the flip side, just about anywhere in southern or coastal Maine is considered in the top 500 or so easiest places to live out of more than 3,100 areas included in the rankings.

So why the huge disparity within Maine? Let’s look at Somerset County, which ranked the lowest in the state, and Cumberland County, which ranked highest.

hardestgraphThe economic disparity between northern and southern Maine should come as little surprise to those familiar with the long-standing “two Maines” debate. The New York Times, which did not identify when its data snapshot came from, found that in general, urban areas and their surroundings ranked higher than rural areas. In case you’re wondering, the Times named Clay County, Kentucky as the hardest place to live in the U.S. and Los Alamos County, New Mexico as the easiest, though six out of the top 10 were suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.