Thursday, July 30, 2009

Senate approves $5 million for UMaine wind research, other projects

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has successfully secured $6,600,000 in federal funding for four Maine projects, including the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative at the University of Maine and solar energy development at the University of Maine Presque Isle. This funding is included in the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Senate Appropriations bill which was approved tonight by the full Senate. The final vote was 85-9.

"I am particularly excited about a proposal to establish a National Center for Deepwater Offshore Wind Research at the University of Maine," said Senator Collins, who is the only member of Maine's congressional delegation to serve on an Appropriations Committee. "I am proud to secure federal funding to support critical wind energy research that is underway at the University of Maine. This has the potential to diversify Maine's energy supply, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of new jobs.

"In addition, this federal funding would provide critical assistance to the University of Maine at Presque Isle that will help reduce the school's energy costs while reducing its energy footprint," Senator Collins said.

In June, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu agreed to Senator Collins' request and met with Maine Governor John Baldacci and the rest of Maine's Congressional delegation who requested federal support for the creation of a National Center for Deepwater Offshore Wind Research at the University of Maine. Estimates are that the development of just five gigawatts of offshore wind in Maine could attract $20 billion of investment to the state and could create more than 15,000 green energy jobs that would be sustained over 30 years.

Specifically, the federal funding that Senator Collins secured in the FY 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill includes:

* University of Maine, Offshore Wind Initiative: $5,000,000

* University of Maine at Presque Isle, Solar Energy Development, Presque Isle: $800,000

This project would cover the design and installation of photo-voltaic solar panel arrays at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Additionally, the establishment of an automated weather station to collect information on solar radiation levels in this northern region will provide needed baseline data for future use of solar energy and promote undergraduate research. The project will reduce electrical energy costs to the university, eliminate or reduce the need for additional air conditioning, provide a research and educational focus for the campus, and serve as a regional model for other businesses and schools.

* Town of Machiasport dredge project: $750,000

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided $1,012,000 in Army Corps funding for Bucks Harbor dredging in Machiasport. In order to deepen the harbor under the Section 107 authority, the Army Corps needs funding to first remove the maintenance shoal material that lies on top. If operation and maintenance funding is not provided, the project is in danger of losing its ARRA funds. Bucks Harbor supports an active commercial fishery and retention of this fleet is important to the economic vitality of the town. The harbor is also the site of a large aquaculture operation focused on raising salmon.

* Town of Tremont dredge project: $60,000

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $1,386,000 in Army Corps funding for Bass Harbor dredging. Funds for operation and maintenance are needed to complete the project. The existing Federal Navigation Project for Bass Harbor was authorized by the Chief of Engineers May 7, 1962 under the continuing authority of Section 107 and was completed in August 1964. Federal funding of this project will contribute to economic development that is consistent with protecting the environment of Bass Harbor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More than $5 million in police funding for Maine

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins announced that the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has awarded grants totaling $5,098,572 to 18 Maine police departments through the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP). Funding from the CHRP program is designed to help bolster the hiring of local law enforcement agencies.

The funding is being distributed to Maine through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Senators Snowe and Collins worked with a bipartisan group of senators to craft the legislation that became law in February.

“These funds will greatly help to improve Maine’s ability to address criminal justice and public safety issues,” said Senators Snowe and Collins in a joint statement. “This $5 million in grant funding will help make communities throughout Maine safer by providing the state with 30 additional officers.”
Funding will be awarded as follows (departments will be allocated funding for one officer, unless otherwise noted):

• City of Auburn (2 officers) - $374,120
• Baileyville Police Department - $209,336
• City of Bangor (4 officers) - $704,880
• Town of Boothbay Harbor - $185,180
• Caribou Police Department - $177,206
• Dexter-Foxcroft Police Department - $180,085
• Fryeburg Police Department - $143,199
• Lewiston Police Department (2 officers) - $350,412
• Mexico Police Department - $180,017
• Milo Police Department - $135,492
• Newport Police Department - $168,490
• Norway Police Department - $149, 314
• Penobscot Nation Police Department - $149,314
• City of Portland (6 officers) - $882,528
• Sanford Police Department (2 officers) - $411,362
• Town of Skowhegan - $147,308
• Westbrook Police Department (2 officers) - $375,074
• Winthrop Police Department - $175,101

The grants will provide 100 percent of the approved salary and benefits for entry level officer positions over a three-year period. Police departments receiving the grants will then be required to retain the grant-funded positions for a fourth year.

The Part-Time Annuitants Act of 2009

The U.S. Senate has approved bipartisan legislation, authored by Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, that is designed to enhance the federal governments ability to respond to the potential loss of the nearly 1.8 million federal employees who are eligible for retirement in the next decade.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Interior Secretary to visit Acadia National Park

Senator Collins today announced that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has accepted her invitation to visit Acadia National Park on Saturday, July 25.

“Acadia National Park is a true gem of the Maine coastline and one of the most visited national parks in the United States,” said Senator Collins. “In seven years, Acadia will be 100 years old. Age has brought both increasing popularity and greater pressures. I welcome this opportunity, not only to share the beauty of our beloved Acadia National Park with Secretary Salazar, but to also discuss the critically important steps that are being taken to ensure the long-term health of Acadia.”

Exact details of Secretary Salazar’s visit are still being finalized and will be announced later this week. It is expected that Senator Collins and Secretary Salazar will tour Acadia National Park with Superintendent Sheridan Steele, view the Island Explorer bus system, visit Schoodic Education and Research Center, and meet with park service employees.

Senator Collins announces intent to vote to support Sotomayor

U.S. Senator Susan Collins today issued the following statement announcing that she will vote to support the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve as the 111th justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“I have decided to vote in favor of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The decision of whether to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court is a solemn responsibility of the Senate and one that I approach with the utmost care.

“In considering judicial nominees, I carefully consider their qualifications, competency, personal integrity, and judicial temperament. Judge Sotomayor has impressive legal experience, has excelled throughout her life, and is a tremendously accomplished person. Indeed, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary—after an exhaustive review of her professional qualifications, including more than 500 interviews and analyses of her opinions, speeches, and other writings—unanimously rated her “well-qualified.” And based on my review of her record, my assessment of her character, and my analysis of her adherence to precedent, Judge Sotomayor warrants confirmation to the high court.

“I know that I will not agree with every decision Justice Sotomayor reaches on the Court, just as I disagree with some of her previous decisions. However, upon reading these decisions, talking personally with her, and hearing her responses to probing questions, I have concluded that Judge Sotomayor understands the proper rule of a judge and is committed to applying the law impartially without bias or favoritism.

“My expectation is that Justice Sotomayor will adhere to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s admonition that “a wise old woman and a wise old man would eventually reach the same conclusion in a case.” Based on her responses to the Judiciary Committee, she will avoid the temptation to usurp the legislative authority of the Congress and the executive authority of the President. As Chief Justice John Marshall famously wrote in Marbury v. Madison, the Court must “say what the law is.” That, after all, is the appropriate role for the federal judiciary. For a judge to do more would undermine the Constitutional foundations of the separate branches.

“I will vote to confirm Judge Sotomayor as I believe she will serve our country honorably and well on the Supreme Court.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

WABI: Collins secures $5 million for UMaine wind project

WABI-TV: Senator Susan Collins says she has successfully secured $4.8 million dollars in federal funding to a wind project at the University of Maine.

The Maine Offshore Wind Initiative would establish a National Center for Deepwater Offshore Wind Research at the school.

The money was approved by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and is included in next year's budget bill.

The measure now goes before the full Senate Appropriations Committee, and if passed, on to the full Senate for approval.

In June, Governor Baldacci met with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Maine's Congressional delegation to discuss offshore wind power in Maine.


More on the project:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bangor Daily: Collins 'gets it' taking on Street oil speculators

Oil prices shot past $72 a barrel this week, and a growing number of experts point to Wall Street speculators as a key reason why Americans are suddenly paying a lot more for oil and gasoline.

Although soaring oil prices threaten the fragile economic recovery, most Capitol Hill lawmakers have remained silent about them, but not Sen. Susan Collins. The Maine Republican pumps her own gas and heats her Bangor home with oil, and on trips home, she gets an earful from angry consumers, who, like her, blame speculators.

"Constituents get it," she said. "They don't see the reason for it. They don't see (supply) shortages. They don't see (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) greatly reducing production or other reasons prices are going up so much."

Collins has been one of the few on Capitol Hill and even fewer Republicans who blame the rising oil prices in part on Wall Street investors. She and her allies, mostly Democrats, are trying to limit speculative investments in oil and other commodities, but they say they need more support from President Barack Obama.


Vacation Close to Home- Weekly column by Senator Collins

The economic downturn and rising gas prices have added a new word to our national vocabulary. “Staycation” combines the fun of the traditional summer vacation with the affordability and convenience of exploring your own backyard.

We Mainers are fortunate to have a truly amazing backyard to explore. From our spectacular scenery, history, and art to our great food, festivals, shopping, and amusement parks, Maine has something for everyone. For Mom and Dad, perhaps the best thing about vacationing close to home is that by the time the kids in the backseat start to chant, “Are we there yet?” -- you’re already there!

According to the American Automobile Association, the typical long-distance vacation costs $244 per day for two people, just for food and lodging. Add in airfare and the rest of family, and it’s no wonder the “staycation” is fast becoming the way to go.

For just a fraction of the cost of a travel-intensive vacation, the possibilities here in Maine are virtually unlimited. With 6,000 lakes, 32,000 miles of rivers, 5,500 miles of coastline, and 17 million acres of forest, there’s plenty of Maine to explore. With our wonderful state parks and family campgrounds, you’re sure to find the perfect “home base” for your explorations. You can “splurge” on a few nights at that charming inn you’ve always admired or an amenity-filled hotel without busting your budget.

From now until well into the fall, Maine’s calendar is filled with festivals and fairs. Whether you prefer lobster, clams, blueberries or the tradition French Acadian ploye, there’s a festival for every palate. From jazz, blues, and rock to folk and classical, there’s one for every ear, and from traditional crafts to contemporary art, one for every eye.

The money-saving staycation is the perfect time to try something new. Go whitewater rafting. Check out Maine’s scenery from the air -- in a biplane, a glider or a hot-air balloon. Take a long ride on our extensive network of bike routes. Journey back through time on the historic Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail. Man the helm of a classic Maine windjammer. Where else but the border-straddling Aroostook Valley Country Club could you tee it up in the United States and putt out in Canada?

The Maine staycation is the perfect way to enjoy a well-deserved break and to have some family fun. It’s also a great way to support the Maine economy in these difficult times. Tourism is a $10 billion industry in our state that generates some 140,000 jobs. These businesses pay local taxes, support charities and community projects, and provide opportunities. Every dollar spent here in Maine strengthens Maine.

The staycation is also eco-friendly. Air travel is a significant contributor of greenhouse gasses. And why burn tanks of gas just to get someplace that’s not as nice as where you already are? There is no more enjoyable way to reduce your carbon footprint than by taking a Maine staycation.

This is not the first time that we have experienced economic distress. The people of America and of Maine have always weathered these storms with confidence and high spirits. I hope to see you all this summer, enjoying a staycation in this beautiful place we call home.

4th of July in Bangor

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Johnson Outdoors to consolidate operations in Old Town

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins today released the following statement on the news that Johnson Outdoors, owner of Old Town Canoe, will consolidate its watercraft manufacturing operations in Old Town, creating an estimated 48 new jobs.

“We are pleased that in the midst of this harsh economic climate, nearly 50 new jobs will be created in the Old Town area. This decision is a testament to the incredible work ethic of the current Old Town Canoe workers and the high quality of their production lines. For generations, some of world’s most skilled craftsmen have produced the best canoes and kayaks in Old Town and it is reassuring to see the record of quality and craftsmanship continue.

We applaud the hard work of state and local officials, especially Old Town City Manager Peggy Daigle, for working to make this announcement possible.”

More than $10 million in community health funding for Maine

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will distribute $10,220,875 in federal Community Health Center grant funding to 18 community health centers in Maine.