In downtown Bangor on Monday Nov. 26, Bangor Green Drinks and Natural Resource Council of Maine (NRCM) Rising hosted the event: “Maine’s Next Generation of Environmental Advocates.” The event discussed the results of recent federal and state elections in reference to Maine’s environment, including what environmental issues are being discussed in Augusta and how people can make their voices heard.
The event was oriented toward young people and getting them more involved in environmental movements around Maine.
With the allure of both free beer and pizza, the host space welcomed a cohort of people, both young and old, who were interested in the environment and eager to share their knowledge and ideas.
Jeremy Vroom, who is a part of the leadership team of NRCM Rising, got involved with the group as it aligned well with that he believes in.
“Since I work in the outdoor industry I see the strong role the environment plays in Maine and we need to work to protect it,” Vroom said.
He is one of the environmental advocacy group’s nearly 20,000 members, a number which makes it one of the largest such groups in Maine. Vroom works to put on events like this one all around the state.
According to its Facebook page, NRCM Rising is a group created by the Natural Resource Council of Maine in 2014 that aims to connect people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who care about the protection of the environment.
The organization holds events all around the state and teaches about how to make positive change on the state and federal level.
Sophie Janeaway, the climate and clean energy outreach coordinator for NRCM Rising, discussed the three solutions areas — transportation, energy efficiency and clean energy — that her organization is working to get passed through the Maine legislature.
The second half of the event was dedicated to showing people how their voices matter and what they can do to make them heard. Todd Martin, who is a part of the NRCM Rising team, said he sees the incoming governor and legislature as a big opportunity for more sustainable policies the state of Maine.
The best solution on this front, he suggested, is for people to get in contact with their representatives.
“State legislators are voting for us so it is our responsibility to know who they are, and what they stand for,” Martin said. “Plus you need to tell them what you think.”
Sharon Klein, an associate professor in the UMaine School of Economics, agreed with the optimism for opportunities of better renewable energy.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm for this change from Mainers and the legislature,” Klein said. “The new legislature and Governor can carry that momentum forward and finally make much-needed changes that can make solar farms more economical and accessible.”
There have been several bills attempted in the legislature that could strengthen the renewable energy economy, especially solar energy, in Maine. However, many were vetoed by Gov. Paul Lepage. With the change in leadership, many people like Klein and the event organizers are hopeful for the future state of Maine’s environment.