U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will be at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook today for a discussion with farmers about a proposed water rule that’s drawing criticism from farming interests.
McCarthy is coming to Maine at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who has supported the rule, which would expand the EPA’s authority to regulate bodies of water that feed navigable rivers or lakes under the Clean Water Act.
However, King and Senate colleagues have questioned how the rule would affect farmers, sending a letter to McCarthy and another Obama administration official earlier this month that asked the government to “provide clearer and concise implementation guidance to ensure that the rule is effectively and consistently interpreted.”
The rule is currently under a court-ordered stay after 18 states sued the federal government over it. The Obama administration says it won’t add economic burden to the agriculture industry, but the American Farm Bureau Federation disagrees, saying the rule “creates confusion and risk” by providing “unlimited authority to regulate” low spots “where rainwater collects.”
King and McCarthy are scheduled to speak to the media ahead of the 9:30 a.m. roundtable at the Westbrook farm today. — Michael Shepherd
Legislative panels at work this week
Some low-key work of the Maine Legislature will go on this week before the State House goes mostly quiet through Christmas, a calm that will end by the January session.
The week’s headlining event may be on Thursday, when the Government Oversight Committee is set to take a vote related to its investigation of Gov. Paul LePage’s threat to withhold funding from Good Will-Hinckley after it hired House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. The school pulled the offer afterward.
Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, the committee’s co-chairman, has already predicted an end to the probe, telling the Portland Press Herald that he doesn’t expect the committee to recommend any further action against LePage. But the committee is set to hear about other issues of import, including staffing levels at the embattled Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.
A commission set up to study Maine’s timber revenue fund will meet on Tuesday. That’s the pot of money that could fund a proposal from LePage to pay for energy upgrades for low-income residents. The commission is charged with making a recommendation to the Legislature regarding the fund by this month.
On Monday, another commission studying the Fund for a Healthy Maine — funded by 1998 tobacco settlement money — will meet. Republicans have questioned how much of that money is being spent on health programs. The Government Oversight Committee will consider a request for another review on Thursday. — Michael Shepherd
- As rift grows between LePage and Republican Senate president, so do prospects for primary challenge — Steve Mistler, Portland Press Herald
- How each of the presidential candidates would handle ISIS in one chart — Seth Koenig, Bangor Daily News
- Where Mainers go for sustenance: Data analysts compare numbers of bars, grocery stores — Seth Koenig, BDN
- McCain, Graham call for 20,000 troops in Syria, Iraq — Stephen Kalin, Reuters
- Donald Trump won’t take back remark on Muslims ‘cheering’ 9/11 attacks — Megan Cassella, Reuters
- Coffee company connects Maine cup to Costa Rican farm — Johanna S. Billings, BDN
- Predatory Islamic State wrings money from those it rules — Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Kulish and Steven Lee Myers, New York Times
- The case for letting children vote — Matthew Yglesias, Vox
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- A rough-looking rocking chair in Durham “needs restored.” I’ll say.
- Somebody in Portland wants to buy all of your pennies, for some reason. (Maybe you can sell each one for 1.8 cents, the cost of actually making a penny.)
- There’s a free above-ground pool with lots of green stuff in it available in Belgrade.
- A woman is looking for the red-headed “ponytail guy” who was “holding a stuffed owl and dancing around” at Mama’s Cabaret in Lewiston recently: “I wrote my number on the girl’s room wall, hoping you’d see it, silly of me though, why would you be in the girl’s room?” — Michael Shepherd