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State to reconsider hiding oil train data

The state committee charged with promoting transparency in government is asking lawmakers to overhaul a 2015 law that made secret information about the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials by railroad through Maine.

The legislature’s Right-to-Know Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Judiciary Committee recommending that it reconsider the controversial law in order to ensure that the government is not keeping railroad data secret unnecessarily. Continue Reading →

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DEP to make oil train data public again

The Department of Environmental Protection will resume releasing data on oil rail shipments in Maine, reversing a five-month policy that kept the information out of the public eye.

Just last month, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting filed a Freedom of Access Act request for the monthly data. The DEP, acting on the advice of the Attorney General’s office, decided that the oil data summaries were not covered by a new and controversial law that meant to make hazardous material rail shipments secret. Continue Reading →

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Energy independence for U.S., Maine comes at a price

Cash Energy makes an oil delivery to Lewiston, Winter 2011. Photo — Jose Leiva, Sun Journal

Just a few months ago, almost nobody talked about the Strait of Hormuz, much less worried about its effect on our lives.  Now, Iran threatens to close that narrow stretch of water in the Middle East. It’s the latest move in a growing international conflict over Iran’s possible development of a nuclear weapon. If the Strait is closed, the world could lose as much as one-fifth of its oil supply. Since the 1970s, the United States has worried about the security of its oil supply and its dependence on the politically volatile Middle East.  Because of the dangers in the Israeli-Arab conflict, the U.S. has tried to reduce dependence on Middle East oil. That concern has filtered down to Maine, the state with the highest percentage of homes heated by oil – 70 percent according to the U.S. Census.  The state has its own Office of Energy Independence and Security, and state law targets a 50 percent reduction by 2050 from oil dependence levels of 2007. Continue Reading →

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