Credit: George Danby

Earlier this summer, I stood with Janet Mills and watched an osprey hunt for fish on the Kennebec River. As the osprey grabbed its prey from the water, Mills talked about her childhood in western Maine and how much cleaner our rivers had become since she was a kid.

A lifelong angler and Farmington native, Mills was a child when she saw firsthand how polluted Maine’s rivers had become. She told me about her dad, a Republican, who helped clean up Maine’s rivers in the 1970s — a bipartisan tradition of conservation that Mills carries on today.

Without Gov. Paul LePage on the ballot, this year’s race for governor has been a lot quieter than past campaigns. It can be hard to tell where the candidates stand on issues.

But there are real differences between Democrat Mills, Republican Shawn Moody and independent Terry Hayes — in their experience and in the policies they would advocate, particularly when it comes to the environment. And those differences will impact the lives of Mainers for decades to come.

Only one candidate, Mills, has articulated a clear and compelling environmental policy agenda and has a track record of fighting for our natural resources, which are essential to our economy and our way of life.

Through my work at Maine Conservation Voters, I have seen Mills’ commitment to our environment, deeply rooted in her family’s values and her rural Maine upbringing. A woman of action, Mills has stood up to powerful interests time and again so that Maine people will have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and a natural heritage that is passed on to our children.

Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund proudly endorsed Mills earlier this year after a lengthy process that included candidate surveys, personal interviews and a detailed look at each candidate’s public voting record, activities and statements.

Our organization includes Republicans, Democrats and independents, and we see our job as holding political leaders responsible for their environmental records and promoting candidates — regardless of their political party — who will be champions for our environment.

During her time in the Legislature and as the state’s attorney general, Mills was a leader in the effort to remove mercury from the Penobscot River, taking on the big corporations that tried to profit from pollution.

She supported funding for the popular Land for Maine’s Future program, ensuring access to land statewide for recreation, farming, fishing and forestry.

As governor, Mills would invest in weatherization, solar and other renewable energy sources, and microgrid technologies to make Maine more energy independent and to create new jobs.

And she has a plan to fight climate change and prepare Maine for the challenges of a warming planet.

Moody, on the other hand, has suggested he will continue LePage’s harmful policies and even went so far as to deny climate science during the Republican primary when he was trying to win his party’s nomination for governor.

His environmental policies are extremely limited and lack detail, fail to address climate change and demonstrate no vision for the state’s approach to protecting public lands, clean air or clean water.

The environment will not be a priority for Moody, and he cannot be trusted to address the threats that climate change pose to Maine’s fisheries, economy and public health

I stood with Mills on the banks of the Kennebec that day, and I’ll be standing with her on Nov. 6. I hope you will join me in voting for Mills — the candidate who will carry on Maine’s bipartisan tradition of protecting our environment, ensuring clean water, and securing a safe and healthy future for our children.

Maureen Drouin is the executive director of Maine Conservation Voters.

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