Senator Mark Lawrence, Chair
Representative Seth Berry, Chair
Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities & Technology
My name is Dylan Voorhees and I am the Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Because I was away for the public hearing, I am offering this written testimony in support of the sentiment and principles behind the Green New Deal for Maine. The bill is important because it helps puts our energy and climate challenges into an important social and economic context. It also proposes more active examination of how we should use the needed clean energy transition to maximize benefits to Maine people and our economy.
There is no question that we must take bold action on climate at the state and federal levels. We can’t afford to wait any longer to dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as fast as possible, in line with what the latest science is telling us.
Pursuing a broad set of climate solutions, from renewable energy to clean transportation, presents a promising opportunity to create new jobs, improve public health, and protect our air and water. We must also embrace the chance to ensure that this transition creates a just and equitable path forward for everyone. We are inspired by the activism of young people who have been driving the development of the Green New Deal (at the federal and state levels) and pushing for more ambitious climate action.
There are many different pieces to LD 1282, including ideas and policies that overlap with other climate and clean energy legislation that NRCM strongly supports. We believe it matters less which LD advances than that we make sufficient progress immediately. Other relevant bills include three that are priorities of the Environmental Priorities Coalition (the first three) and others:
- A carbon-cutting framework bill (LD 797, sponsored by Rep. Tucker),
- An increase to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (LD 1494, sponsored by Sen. Vitelli),
- Updated policies to promote distributed solar power (sponsored by Sen. Dow),
- A new governor’s bill (sponsored by Sen. Woodsome) creating a Maine Climate Council with a broad, diverse mandate, including consideration of equity and job creation issues.
We believe the Commission on a Just Transition to a Low-carbon Economy is the element of the bill least adequately addressed elsewhere. However, we also note that the duties or areas of examination for the Commission are, in fact, much too narrow. An examination of Efficiency Maine and State Housing Authority expenditures (both of which have substantial equity mandates already) does not begin to address the complex and important issues that the idea of a “just transition” implies.
We look forward to working with the Committee, bill sponsor, and other stakeholders to achieve the purposes behind this legislation.