Repurpose oil infrastructure for sustainability
who I am...
I am a Yale-educated geologist, small business owner (along with my wife Sue), and South Portland resident who became a climate activist in South Portland in 2013 and 2014 with 350.org. I advocated for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance and subsequently advised extensively on what ultimately became the Clear Skies Ordinance prohibiting loading of oil tankers in South Portland. See my specific contributions here...
In 2015, I was elected to the South Portland City Council in the midst of a controversy surrounding an outsized propane terminal facility in Rigby Yard despite it being prohibited under local zoning laws. As a Councilor I:
• influenced the necessary rejection of this oversized propane terminal project in Rigby Yard;
• advised, with success, the defense of the Clear Skies Ordinance in Federal Court through independent research on the geographic sources of Portland Pipeline crude oil;
• advocated for increased "assurance" (insurance for the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites) for petroleum tank farms with a closure requirement after ten years being idle.
• authored and passed a then-controversial amended Resolution that limits police interaction with ICE in enforcing Federal Immigration laws;
• informed staff and Council on the specific vulnerabilities of the South Portland waterfront under the revised FEMA flood map;
I introduced several reforms of City governance toward becoming more transparent and consistent with Charter and Code, and proposed several new projects and policies during my tenure as Councilor, including:
• zoning changes to allow for on-chassis tiny homes;
• a volunteer recruitment plan to promote diversity within the City's Fire Department, and
• a strategy of engagement for Portland Pipeline to repurpose its idle assets for sustainability purposes.
Sometimes these efforts were embraced and sometimes not. But in all cases, I was thorough in my research and diligent in my efforts, and have earned a reputation for being earnest and respectfully responsive to constituents.
I rewrote the proposal for engaging Portland Pipeline to repurpose their at-risk and stranded assets for sustainability purposes and transformed it into a bill (LD #1436) that was adopted by the Legislature last session and was passed into law.
I live in South Portland with my wife, Sue, where we own and operate a small tile cleaning and repair business. Sue and I were both academics before working full time in the trades. Sue taught biology at Cape Elizabeth High School for ten years and I moved to Maine as temporary faculty at Bowdoin College in 2008-2009.
We were both affected by the "Great Recession" financial collapse and are grateful now to live modestly and increasingly sustainably, and working side-by-side in our Stanwood Park home. Now we are, like so many people, trying to understand all the ramifications of the new financial collapse. There is great danger. But if we make right choices now, there may be great promise.
We want to live wholly sustainable lives ourselves, but we spend 1/5 of our income on health insurance that covers only 50% after a whopping $16,000 deductible. Like many Mainers, the huge financial burden of getting medical care– even preventive care–makes us nervous, and so we avoid it. And now in the midst of a pandemic, we see deeper cracks in our economy that reveal its fundamental weaknesses. We know this is not the best that Maine or America can be.
We need greater resilience for our built world. We need to heal the natural world even as it is collapsing. We need more from our Democratic leaders than to 'hold the blue line' because these sorts of crises will come more frequently and more severely if we don't think bigger and act bolder than we are used to. Events have pushed us already out of our comfort zone. It's time to rethink the world we have built and to roll up our sleeves and build a better one.
why I am a candidate...
I am running as the scientist-candidate with a strong progressive platform and an emphasis on actively planning for decarbonization (becoming fossil fuel-free) by 2045, and for transforming the goals of our economy to become more resilient, sustainable, and focused human development and quality of life rather than on unsustainable growth. I bring to this effort several bold plans that include:
• A “Decarbonization Savings Bank” to finance Green New Deal infrastructure and development in Maine;
• Medical billing reforms that require consolidated billing and estimates of cost within 10% for routine medical procedures;
• Renewable agrigas and municipal biogas production to replace fossil fuel natural gas supplies statewide;
• Enabling municipalities to adopt “Zero-tolerance” hazardous air pollutant standards for industrial emitters;
• Extend 11th Amendment sovereign immunity to municipalities that "act as an arm of the state" when they adopt laws protecting air and water quality and for the preservation of nature;
• Electrifying the state’s school bus fleet;
• Commissioning Bath Iron Works to build the first-in-market mid-sized carbon-neutral cargo container ship; this is offered as an alternative to its work as a defense contractor building warships;
• Support a vacancy and speculation tax for unoccupied houses that can fund affordable housing;
• Electricity rate reforms to encourage sustainability in residential and industrial use.
• Amending the Forest Practices Act to increase carbon storage potential and establish testable methods for accounting for that storage.
I am in support of single-payer "Medicare for All" at the Federal level. In my view, our current health care system is immoral in how it inflates charges to support unearned investor incomes as a priority and rewards this priority with exorbitant executive salaries. These inflated charges are bankrupting our communities and forcing our fellow Mainers and Americans to choose between food or heat and life-saving medications like insulin. Constant worry over medical debt is not freedom. This system must operate to our Constitutional promise to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. The exclusive welfare of investors is not the general welfare.
I am a committed progressive who can be counted on to "hold the blue line" in Augusta. As a progressive, I believe that legislators and legislatures need to do more than hold the blue line of liberal democracy. We must avidly and passionately forge the trail of progress as it arcs toward justice.
And we must forge this trail and get to a place of global sustainability under a critical climate deadline– decarbonization by 2045. It is a tall task, and although good ideas are emerging worldwide to help us meet this challenge, so far they are not enough. There are huge gaps of innovation and management that leave us dependent on carbon-intensive business-as-usual. We must help invent the world we want to live in. Decarbonization is not business-as-usual, and achieving decarbonization is as much a social project as it is a technical one. The sustainable economy of the future must be focused on human development and sustainable quality of life and not on growth. Why? Because unlimited growth is impossible within a limited ecosystem.
Please reach out to me so we can know each other better. Together we can help the State of Maine create the world we want for ourselves and for future generations.