Today, business leaders from across Maine gathered at the State House to release a letter written to Maine’s congressional delegation, urging swift, strong and effective action to help address the threat of climate change. The letter was signed by more than 100 leading Maine businesses such as Hannaford Bros. Co., Lee Auto Malls, Oakhurst Dairy, Verso Paper, Mattson Development, and the Harraseeket Inn.
The letter, sent to Maine’s congressional delegation today, says, in part: “As business men and women in Maine, we call on you to help enact legislation next year that addresses the threat of global warming. We specifically urge that you make passage of a strong and effective climate security bill one of the top priorities for action in 2009.”
“When it comes to climate change, inaction is the most expensive and risky path forward for our society,” says Tom Tietenberg, Mitchell Family Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Colby College. “Fortunately the Northeastern region is leading the way by establishing an effective cap-and-trade program to forge the transition to a low-carbon economy, while using the resulting revenue to promote energy efficiency and reduce the costs for our businesses and citizens.”
“We cannot let our negligence today ruin the special character of this beautiful state for generations to come,” says Nancy Gray, innkeeper and co-owner of the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. “My children and their children should be able to enjoy the Maine I have loved all my life.”
“Maine relies on our natural resource-based industries, which rely in turn on the climate we have always enjoyed,” says Warren Cook, General Manager of Saddleback Ski Area in Rangeley. “It’s obvious that Saddleback and other Maine ski areas have a stake in how global warming pollution affects our climate. We’re taking climate change seriously and we need the federal government to act now to help solve the problem.”
“Hannaford is committed to energy conservation and environmental sustainability,” said Art Aleshire, senior vice president of corporate development at Hannaford Supermarkets. “It both makes business sense and helps address global warming. We’re all in this together. Government and business leaders need to take actions that solve global warming: use less energy and use cleaner energy.”
“We are at a crossroads, and the challenge of global warming provides extraordinary opportunity for Maine to gain new green jobs in wind power, the construction of turbines, new solar technology plants, geo-thermal technology, and new hyper efficient housing materials,” says Jim Wellehan, owner and CEO of Lamey Wellehan Shoes of Augusta, Bangor, South Portland, Falmouth, Brunswick and Auburn. “We need to support dramatic change in Washington to bring these about, and support Feed-in tariffs in Maine to encourage the growth of these new industries.”
“I’m in the auto business, but I know that there’s more to life than selling cars,” says Adam Lee, President, Lee Auto Malls of Auburn, Augusta, Lewiston, Newport, Norway, Saco, Topsham, Westbrook, and Windham. “I run a family-owned business that goes back generations. I feel lucky to have grown up in Maine and to be able to live here and make a good living here. To protect that, I, as a business person, am willing to go to great effort to support energy policies that push clean energy and energy efficiency to the forefront. I believe it is the responsibility of all businesses to do the same, if we are to protect the state where we do business, and the place we call home.”
“The RGGI legislation in Maine was unprecedented in the breadth of support it received, because of efforts to find common ground between industry, government and environmental groups,” says Bill Cohen of Verso Paper Corporation’s Jay and Bucksport mills. “Verso was pleased to participate, and believes the RGGI model balanced the desire to control CO2 emissions with the need and uses of energy by industry. There are many lessons learned and the Maine experience is certainly a model for the Federal government as it begins considering climate control legislation.”
“Our company does not have expertise in the science of climate change, nor are we policy experts,” said Jack Parker President & CEO, Reed & Reed of Woolwich, Maine. “But we have become involved in the construction of renewable energy projects in Maine and believe that the transition to clean energy is vital – for Maine’s environment and our economy, and federal climate legislation will help spur this transition. Federal climate legislation would help boost renewable energy projects, and energy efficiency investments, and development of new technologies to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide.”
“These businesses are leading the way and calling for strong action from Maine’s congressional delegation,” says Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine businesses recognize the significance of our energy and climate change problems, the responsibility of businesses to help address it, and the economic opportunities in solving it. Investing in clean and efficient solutions builds Maine jobs and our economy and helps to ensure a healthier future for our children and grandchildren.”
Climate change could pose a very serious threat to Maine’s economy, environment, and way of life. The best scientific data suggest that global warming could cause significant sea-level rise along Maine’s lengthy coastline, jeopardizing property, wildlife habitat, and infrastructure. Climate change also could result in more severe weather, increased smog and asthma, and significant harm to our natural resource-based economy.
At present global companies, including General Electric, AIG, Citigroup, BP, Siemens, Hitachi, Reuters, Duke Energy, China Oil & Offshore Company, Volvo, and HP, have also called for the global community to reduce global warming emissions to acceptable levels as rapidly as possible, saying, “There are clear indications of an ongoing global climate change. The root cause seems to be the emission of greenhouse gases due to human activity. A change in the climate could potentially alter the conditions that govern human life and lead to major costs. Therefore, we believe that the global community should aim at reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to acceptable levels as rapidly as possible.”
Read full letter and statements by many Maine business leaders.