by Dylan Voorhees, NRCM energy project director
We commend the authors of this report for their remarkable contribution to our understanding of global warming in Maine. For the first time, we have a comprehensive, peer-reviewed analysis of what global warming would look like in Maine.
Maine and the region face a real choice. As this report clearly shows, how much global warming pollution we emit today makes a big difference for Maine. Do we want to preserve the spruce-fir forests of the North Woods? Do we want to maintain a vibrant winter recreation economy? Do we want our children to suffer from even higher rates of asthma?
Fortunately the solution is well within reach – there are a variety of cost-effective, common sense solutions ready today if we choose to implement them.
The most important thing Maine can do to reduce its contribution to the global warming pollution is use energy more efficiently. Energy efficiency investments will save money and reduce pollution. Every new building in Maine should meet minimum standards for energy efficiency. Homeowners, businesses and government can all invest in energy efficiency in existing buildings. It only makes sense to choose energy efficiency over new power plants and transmission lines whenever it is cheaper to do so.
Maine is poised to become a leader in New England for wind power. If the three large projects currently seeking permits are built, Maine could generate over 275 megawatts of clean wind power—over 10 times as much as the rest of the region combined.
Maine has adopted clean car standards that would reduce global warming pollution from cars by 30% by 2016. Unfortunately the federal government and some automakers are making every effort to stop states from implementing this law and must be fought every step of the way. Maine can take still stronger action to promote the purchase of high-efficiency vehicles—a bill to do so was just postponed until 2008. Buses, trains, vans and other options, help solve the global warming problem, while offering useful transportation options for our children, seniors and commuters.
Change is both necessary and possible. But we need government to send the right signals to unleash the power of innovation in the free-market. In 1905, 3% of American homes had electricity, fewer had cars. In 1950, almost every home had both. Today the United States gets about 3% of its power from clean, renewable sources.
Confronting the challenge of global warming means embracing a new set of economic opportunities in Maine: From producing more clean power from indigenous sources, to cutting electricity bills for everyone; from tapping into new “carbon markets,” to growing a strong clean energy businesses sector.
We have a choice about global warming. The solutions are readily available. It is time to make those solutions into reality.