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MOFGA Public Policy Teach-In

Making America Green Again: A Workshop in Resistance

Saturday, September 23, 1-2:30 p.m., Spotlight Stage Tent


What threats does the Maine environment now face from rollbacks in Washington, D.C.? How can Mainers fight back? Decisions made in the U.S. capital can harm the clean waters, fresh air, healthy forests and thriving wildlife of Maine, as well as the health of Maine people and our way of life. Right now the Trump administration and its allies are pursuing the most aggressive environmental rollbacks in U.S. history. Attacks on federal laws that protect our climate, public lands, air and water as well as attacks on the agencies that administer these laws could set us back decades. These threats, if implemented, would cause serious harm nationwide and would be particularly damaging for states such as Maine, where our environment and economy are tightly intertwined. Extreme cuts to Environmental Protection Agency protections that reduce pollution in Maine, save the lives of Maine people and strengthen our communities and economy would harm both our environment and economy. At the 2017 teach-in, organized by MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee, three experts will describe the threats we face and ways to fight back. A Q&A session will follow their presentations.


Emmie Theberge, federal project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), will explain key environmental issues at the state and federal levels. Theberge has advocated through NRCM for nine years for climate and clean energy solutions in Maine and has mobilized Maine people’s involvement. Since Trump’s inauguration, she has led NRCM work addressing the critical environmental issues at play in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration and its allies in Congress are pursuing the most aggressive environmental rollbacks in U.S. history. Theberge works with NRCM members and partners to defend America’s environmental safeguards and to ensure that Maine’s elected officials in D.C. stand up for Maine’s environment.


Senator Shenna Bellows (D-Manchester) will speak about how to run for office at the state and federal levels. “We need more good people of conscience to run for office!” she says, adding, “Let's put the people and principles back into politics.”


Bellows represents 11 towns in southern Kennebec County. She serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee and owns Bellows & Company, a nonprofit consulting firm.


Bellows was the 2014 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine. Before that she was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. She was a key leader of the successful 2012 ballot campaign to pass same sex marriage in Maine, and she co-chaired a successful 2011 statewide ballot campaign to expand voting rights. 


A former volunteer with the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps VISTA, Bellows lives with her husband, Brandon, in Manchester.


Beth Ahearn will coach about how to make your voice heard – i.e., how to best contact state and federal legislators and how to present testimony and lobby in person.


Ahearn joined the staff of Maine Conservation Voters in 2012 after working as the MCV contract lobbyist for the 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions. She has a lifelong commitment to protecting Maine’s air, land and water. She has been a whitewater rafting guide in The Forks and a sailing instructor on Penobscot Bay. She received her J.D. from the University of Maine in 1988, was an assistant district attorney in Cumberland and Androscoggin counties, and was staff attorney for Maine Audubon from 1991 to 1996. From 2000 to 2005 she represented the best interests of children as a guardian ad litem in custody cases. Most recently Ahearn was a lobbyist with Moose Ridge Associates, where her clients included conservation, social justice and domestic violence organizations. She lives with her family in Freeport.


Moderator Nancy Ross, formerly executive director of MOFGA, is professor emerita of environmental policy at Unity College and adjunct faculty in political science at Southern Maine Community College. She is a member of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee.


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