2018-02-16 / Front Page

Environmental Club ramps up its role

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Members of the Environmental Club of Scarborough were among a group of local residents that attended a rally at Portland City Hall last month to urge the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to better protect the environment by further reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the state. (Courtesy photo) Members of the Environmental Club of Scarborough were among a group of local residents that attended a rally at Portland City Hall last month to urge the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to better protect the environment by further reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the state. (Courtesy photo) The high school’s Environmental Club of Scarborough (ECOS) has worked hard over the years increase awareness about environmental issues around Scarborough encouraging composting and recycling, but now is looking to take a more active role in state and nation-wide environmental issues.

Members of the club last month joined together through Our Children’s Trust and more than 700 Maine residents to file a petition to urge the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to “fulfill its statutory, constitutional and public trust obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emission along a trajectory that is based on the best climate science and that will reduce the impacts of climate change in Maine.”

In 2003, a law was put in place that requires the DEP to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by January 2020 and in the long term “eliminate any dangerous threat to the climate.” Petition supporters claim more can be done in that regard.

According to Maine Climate Protectors, a grassroots legal climate advocate for the state and world, which led the effort, petitioners are proposing greenhouse gas emission reductions of a least 8 percent each year, which would result in the state “reducing emissions to approximately 75 percent below 2003 levels by the year 2035.”

Maine Climate Protectors indicate the DEP has until March 25 to “begin the rule-making process as described in the petition.”

“Our generation, the atmosphere and the environment of Maine and the health of Maine citizens is at a high risk,” said Scarborough High School junior Ryan O’Leary, president of ECOS and one of the petition supporters.

O’Leary said the petition sendoff at Portland City Hall Jan. 24 was a positive event, despite the negative tenor of the petition.

“It was definitely inspiring because we are see a lot of negative things in the media about the future of our environment. At the event, there were several speakers who spoke about the negatives at first, but put a positive spin on the outlook for the future,” O’Leary said.

“It was really cool to see how many other people from different towns all care about the protection of the environment and are willing to take the action required to show their legislature their passion,” Scarborough High School senior and ECOS vice president Kaitlyn Lemay said.

O’Leary said the event was an “eye-opening experience” and validated the work ECOS is doing in Scarborough.

“A lot of the stuff we do at ECOS with our composting, recycling and other small projects at first, they can seem very small, but after attending the event, it is real action, something that could determine the future of our climate in our state. We are taking a more serious approach and realizing the power we have as a club,” he said.

While the Jan. 24 event was split between adult petitioners and youth petitioners, O’Leary has joined with fellow students in Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunk and King Middle School in Portland earlier this school year to start the Maine Youth Environment Association.

“The idea and our mission is we want to connect the high school environmental clubs in the state and inspire them to do more with the environmental scene and promote youth eco-activism,” O’Leary said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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