In a move against the party line, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin opposed a congressional movement to delay implementing stricter ozone standards, a move that won the congressman praise from environmental groups.

The Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017 passed 229-199 Tuesday night, with Poliquin and 10 other Republicans against it. Poliquin voted against similar legislation last year with nine other Republicans in the House.

The 2017 bill delays new ozone standards developed in 2008 and 2015 for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, and now goes on to the Senate, where it failed last time around.

“We have come a long way in Maine in making significant improvements in our environmental standards that have enhanced the quality of our air and environment — Maine’s brand. We should continue to move forward, not backward,” Poliquin said in a news release. “As a father whose son suffers from asthma, I know firsthand how important it is to protect and improve the quality of our air. It’s time our Nation moves forward in implementing these air quality protections for future generations of Mainers to come.”

This is not Poliquin’s first vote in support of climate-friendly legislation. Just last week, he joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to vote down an amendment that would have blocked a U.S. military study on the effects of climate change. The 185-234 vote struck down the Perry Amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which would have deleted a section from the bill ordering a Defense Department study on the effects of climate change on U.S. defenses.

“Our military must be prepared for every possible threat and have the capability to protect our national security,” Poliquin said in a release last week. “This study is important for ensuring that our Armed Forces have the tools they need to carry out their mission and defend our Nation.”

Poliquin’s overall record on environmental issues is checkered. Last year, an environmental group said Poliquin’s efforts to exempt a Washington County hydro system from federal oversight could affect their work restoring native fish, including alewives and Atlantic salmon, to the St. Croix River. In 2016, Poliquin introduced legislation to strip Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversight of three of the Woodland Pulp mill’s water storage dams in Washington County, along the Canadian border. At the time, the Downeast Salmon Federation said federal, Canadian, tribal and environmental groups were collaborating to stock fish in the St. Croix River system and improve fish access at the dams.

This past June, Poliquin urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to exempt the Forest City Dam on the St. Croix River from regulations that could force its manager to abandon it.

In voting for pro-environmental legislation, Poliquin received a score of 21 percent in 2016 from the League of Conservation Voters on its National Environmental Scorecard and has a lifetime score of 15 percent. He received low rankings on environmental issues from as well.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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