The Senate joins the House in initial approval of resuming work on a state plan to adapt to such changes.
from staff reports
AUGUSTA â Both houses of the Maine Legislature have initially passed a bill to resume a climate-change study that has languished during the administration of Gov. Paul LePage.
L.D. 825, sponsored by Rep. William Noon, D-Sanford, would resume the study of long-term effects of climate change, requiring a report to be submitted by February 2015, for consideration by the 127th Legislature.
The Senate passed the bill initially Tuesday without a roll-call vote after passing the House largely along party lines on Monday, 83-55. All House Republicans opposed it, joined by two Democrats, Reps. Stanley Short of Pittsfield and Lisa Villa of Harrison.
In 2009, the Democratic-controlled Legislature, under then-Gov. John Baldacci, also a Democrat, passed a law directing the Department of Environmental Protection to create a climate-change report. It was completed and published in 2010, containing 60 recommendations for the state relating to climate-change effects.
The first recommendation was to draft a detailed climate adaptation plan. A second bill, passed in 2010, directed the DEP to create that plan by January 2012. But the LePage administration didn’t submit the report, and the Republican-led Legislature didn’t much fight him on it.
“It never came up, really,” Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, who chaired the Legislature’s natural resources committee at the time, told the Portland Press Herald earlier this year. “There were some other bigger day-to-day issues to take care of.”
Ericka Dodge, a spokeswoman for Senate Democrats, said the bill faces final votes in the House and Senate.
The LePage administration has argued that the study represents a waste of limited resources, and has asked the Legislature to relieve the Department of Environmental Protection of responsibility for any future climate adaptation plan. Many states have fought political battles over similar studies.
But supporters of the bill, led by environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Conservation Law Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, criticized the LePage administration for halting the study.
“As the science and on-the-ground reality of climate change become increasingly obvious around the globe, here in Maine we barely even have a conversation under way” about effects of climate change, said Pete Didisheim, a lobbyist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, in written April testimony on the bill.