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Small homes made of Maine materials could boost economy, aid climate, council says

The Maine Climate Council has suggested a strategy that draws on the potential for constructing fuel efficient, modestly priced homes with locally sourced wood to help address the state’s affordable housing shortage while boosting the economy.



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Sustainably harvested wood – particularly when transport is minimal – is more sensible when compared with steel and concrete, which have a denser carbon footprint, Stephen Shaler, associate director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, told the Maine Monitor.

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Using locally sourced wood to build homes could expand job opportunities in construction, design and forest products, revitalize former mill towns, help trade school programs and strengthen university research and development, the climate council reported.

While Maine is known for producing traditional hardwood from spruce and pine, engineered wood like laminated strand lumber is a newer industry. Wood fiber insulation manufacturing is on track to begin by 2022. A nanocellulose alternative to sheetrock also is in the early stages of development.

In collaboration with Downeast Maine Community Partners, students recently constructed a “tiny” 560-square-foot house for a Millbridge resident. The project helped explore the feasibility of producing similar structures on a broader scale, the Maine Monitor reported.

Plans are now underway to build affordable zero-energy modular (ZEM) homes, made from local wood products, at the former Great Northern mill site in Millinocket – now the One Katahdin multiuse industrial park.

Consultants with the L3C firm Material Research have signed a memorandum of understanding with Our Katahdin – a nonprofit economic development group – for a ZEM home factory that annually could build up to 500 homes that range from 600 to 1,000 square feet.

Caroline Pryor, co-founder of Material Research, told the Maine Monitor the typical price point for

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Trump Chides Biden For Wearing Mask; Former Pence Aid Blasted For Siding With Biden

The president has also mocked the Biden campaign’s strict adherence to public health officials’ guidance on social distancing. Presidential election news is on GOP voters against Trump, an upcoming rally in Virginia, key topics of the first debate and more.


The Hill:
Trump Mocks Biden Appearance, Mask Use Ahead Of First Debate 


President Trump mocked Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s appearance and use of a face mask on Tuesday as the first presidential debate draws nearer. “He feels good about the mask, and that’s OK. Whatever makes you feel good,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh. “Honestly, why the hell did he spend all that money on the plastic surgery if he’s going to cover it up with a mask?” (Moreno, 9/22)


Politico:
Pence Aide Blasts Former Coronavirus Task Force Member Who Criticized Trump 


Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser on Tuesday assailed the former White House coronavirus task force adviser who recently lambasted the administration’s pandemic response and announced that she’d vote for Joe Biden this November. Retired Gen. Keith Kellogg took to the podium during a press briefing at the White House to say he was “not proud of Olivia Troye,” and pushed back on her claims that President Donald Trump was callous in the face of the public health crisis, which has now killed more than 200,000 Americans. (Niedzwiadek, 9/22)


Politico:
Trump Schedules Rally In Virginia To Reach Rural North Carolina 


President Donald Trump is slated to hold a Friday evening rally in Virginia — but the trip is really about the next state over. Advisers say the idea behind Trump’s event in Newport News at the end of the week is to woo voters in neighboring North Carolina, a key battleground where absentee balloting has begun. (Isenstadt, 9/22)

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Mnuchin and Powell back jobless aid, small business loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the government’s top priorities in any new economic relief package should be to provide affordable loans to small businesses and further support for millions of Americans still unemployed.

With the prospects for any new federal aid package appearing dim, members of the Senate Banking Committee pressed both officials to list improvements that could be quickly made in the nearly $3 trillion in support that Congress has passed to fight the pandemic-induced recession that has nearly 11 million people still jobless.

Democrats on the panel urged Mnuchin, one of the administration’s top negotiators, to work harder to persuade Republicans in Congress to raise the amount of money they would be willing to support in a new bill. And Republicans urged Democratic members to consider a lower amount that might clear both the House and Senate with Election Day less than six weeks away.

Mnuchin agreed that business loans and enhanced unemployment support would be good priorities for Congress to back in any new package.

Pressed to state what the top priorities should be, Powell cited providing more support through the popular Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and boosting unemployment benefits. The PPP still holds around $130 billion that had not been allocated when authorization for the program expired.

The original relief package provided a $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit, on top of whatever jobless aid a state provides. But the $600 benefit has expired. Many Republicans have argued that amount was so large as to dissuade some unemployed people from looking for a job.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to provide $300 in weekly benefits, with states supplying $100. But that program has not been widely supported by states and has now expired.

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