This pandemic has exposed how important a high-quality, high-speed internet connection is for all Mainers. Whether you need an internet connection for work, school, telemedicine, or keeping in touch with friends and family, reliable access to high-speed internet is extremely important to daily life and growing Maine’s economy, especially now with COVID-19.
Unfortunately, there’s a wide disparity across Maine in who has access to high-speed internet. This unequal distribution of internet service is unfair and is holding back our state’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution through telework, teleschool, and telehealth opportunities. Driving less means less pollution, but we cannot succeed at what we do online unless we have the right tools. That includes high-speed internet. Everyone needs access—no exceptions.
Maine voters have a chance to do something about this in the upcoming election on July 14th. Voting YES on Question 1 gives Mainers a chance to take action now to strengthen our economy and reduce pollution by investing in high-speed internet, especially in rural Maine. The $15 million bond will be matched by $30 million in private, federal, and local support—tripling the impact of this smart investment.
Carbon pollution from cars and trucks is the largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Maine, and commuting to work by car or truck is a significant contributor to this problem. A simple and high-impact way to start reducing this pollution would be to make it easier to work from home, when we have that option. High-speed internet is essential to make that happen.
When people work remotely, they drive less and create less pollution. That would result in cleaner air, safer streets, and increased quality of life for Mainers everywhere. Of course, there are also many people struggling with the high cost of car ownership who don’t have the opportunity to work from home, so expanding affordable and reliable public transportation is another important action that the state must take in tandem with better broadband to help us get people to work efficiently while reducing emissions.
By voting YES on Question 1 on July 14th to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas in Maine, our state would help small businesses thrive and ensure that students can access education even when they are at home. Such a measure would strengthen our communities, especially in rural Maine towns and islands. Improving the reach of high-speed internet would give our state a better chance at meeting Maine’s bold targets for reducing carbon pollution.
For all of these reasons and more, please join us in building fairer, more equitable internet service for all Mainers. Vote YES on Question 1 on July 14th.
—Sue Ely, Climate & Clean Energy Attorney, Natural Resources Council of Maine