Presents Governor Baldacci with Petitions
Today representatives from more than a dozen Maine groups gathered at the State House to urge Governor Baldacci’s support for a strong action plan to help stop global warming pollution, announce their newly-formed Maine Global Warming Action Coalition, and present Governor Baldacci with a petition signed by more than 700 Maine citizens who seek strong action on global warming.
Last fall, the Department of Environmental Protection has been working on a global warming action plan with dozens of representatives serving on four stakeholder groups. DEP is slated to submit this plan to the Natural Resources Committee of the Maine State Legislature in late November.
“With this plan, Maine will join with the rest of New England and the world to act responsibly to stop global warming pollution,” said Mark Hays of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), which had representatives on all four stakeholder workgroups that developed the plan. “Now the rubber meets the road.”
“The most important actions to take right away are to adopt standards to reduce global warming pollution from cars, trucks and SUVs; promote clean energy generation from new sources like wind and solar; and expand energy efficiency standards, incentives, and programs,” said Hays.
NRCM and many groups in the Maine Global Warming Action Coalition worked to pass the global warming law that led to the creation of Maine’s plan and served on the workgroups that developed the plan. The plan lays out a comprehensive approach to reduce global warming pollution statewide.
Other coalition members shared their concerns about global warming and committed to be part of the solution by supporting the Maine State Climate Action Plan.
“Maine’s natural resource-based economy greatly depends upon a healthy environment and a stable climate. Global warming threatens this stability,” said Lisa Pohlmann, of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “If fully implemented the action plan will establish policies that will help all sectors in Maine begin to grapple with solving global warming and help us protect our cities, towns, and industries from the harmful impacts that are likely to occur if we do not act.”
“As a representative of physicians throughout Maine, I am excited about this plan,” said Dr. Peter Wilk of Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The measures outlined in this global warming plan will help us do our part to solve global warming and address related health problems. By reducing global warming we will also reduce the incidence of insect-borne diseases, like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, and of respiratory ailments aggravated by air pollution.”
“The countdown to Kyoto is on, and scientists are telling us that Arctic melting is speeding up and dangerous here in the ‘Lower 48’,” said Bob Sheppard of Clean Air Cool Planet, which partners with corporations, campuses and communities throughout the Northeast to reduce global warming. “Fortunately, here in Maine, we have business and government joining hands to show that action on global warming is possible and profitable. A growing number of firms we work with — such as Oakhurst Dairy, Shaw’s Supermarkets, York Hospital, and Timberland are finding that early action is good for their bottom line, good for the overall economy and good for the environment.”
“We view the problem of addressing air pollution in a very similar manner to the growing realization several decades ago regarding the health risks of tobacco smoke,” said Ed Miller, Executive Director of the Maine American Lung Association. “Just as we realized that it was possible to be in environments free from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, we are now realizing that it is possible to live in environments free from the harmful effects of fossil fuel combustion.”
“Maine is taking the right steps to keep on par with the rest of the region in tackling global warming. A strong state action plan is an essential piece needed to complete that regional puzzle. Now that the DEP is done with the plan, it’s up to the Legislature to pass pieces of the plan like the Cleaner Cars program and energy efficiency standards,” said Matthew Davis of Environment Maine.
The Maine Global Warming Action Coalition includes the following groups:
- American Lung Association of Maine
- Clean Air – Cool Planet
- Environmental Defense
- Environment Maine
- Environment Northeast
- Maine Audubon
- Maine Center for Economic Policy
- Maine Council of Churches, Environmental Justice Program
- Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility
- Maine Public Health Association
- Natural Resources Council of Maine
- Sierra Club, Maine Chapter
- The Nature Conservancy
- University of Southern Maine, Sustainability Office
BACKGROUND: The plan that DEP will submit the Maine State Legislature by the end of November is “where the rubber meets the road” in describing how Maine will do its part to reduce its share of global warming pollution. In 2003, the Legislature passed a law that set this planning process in place: “An Act to Provide Leadership in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change.”
The legislation requires Maine to develop a global warming action plan to reduce CO2 to 1990 levels by 2010, 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by as much as 75-80% over the long term, as agreed to by the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. With this law, Maine joined other Northeast states and the international community in taking action to reduce global warming pollution.
Global warming is caused when carbon dioxide (CO2), formed when people burn oil and coal, creates a blanket around the Earth that traps heat raising temperatures and causing problems worldwide. Scientists say that in Maine global warming could increase smog and asthma attacks, cause a rise in sea level that would flood coastal areas, bring more droughts and severe storms, and intensify health threats from insects such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Solutions include many readily available and cost-effective measures that jumpstart energy efficiency and clean renewable energy sources.
In adopting a global warming action plan Maine will be joining with other Northeast states and nations around the world tackling this serious problem. In mid-November the Russian government ratified the international global warming treaty developed in Kyoto, Japan. While Maine and other states in the northeast and northwest are progressing, the U.S. lags behind as one of only two major industrialized nations in the world that has failed to sign on.
A first step to combat global warming, the Kyoto Protocol commits 38 industrialized countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 to levels that are about 5 percent below 1990 levels. The protocol could only enter into force once 55 countries had ratified it, including enough countries to account for at least 55 percent of total CO2 emissions from industrialized countries in 1990. One hundred and twenty-six countries have so far ratified the Kyoto Protocol, far more than the 55 countries needed. With Russia’s ratification of the climate treaty, these countries represent 55 percent of industrialized-country CO2 emissions and the treaty goes into effect.
What is Global Warming?
A blanket of CO2, produced by our burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, is trapping heat in our atmosphere, increasing global temperatures and affecting our climate. There is broad scientific consensus that global warming is underway, the impacts are likely to be dramatic and fossil fuel burning by people is the primary cause. The state of Maine has decided to act responsibly to help address this serious problem that threatens the economic, social and ecological fabric of our state, nation and world.
Fortunately, by using practical, existing technologies for energy efficient appliances and buildings we can reduce the amount of CO2 we pump into the air, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and save money. In addition, there are clean, renewable energy sources that are ready to come on line and contribute significant power. Maine has both the capability and the responsibility to help lead the way.
Maine may already be seeing effects from global warming.
Over the last century, the average temperature in Lewiston, Maine has increased by up to 3.4 degrees F and it is expected to rise another 6-10 degrees F over the next century. This is a greater change in climate variation than in the past 10,000 years.
Average rainfall in Maine has decreased by nearly 20% over the last century.
Sea level in Maine is rising at the fastest pace in 5,000 years; sea level rose by 3.9” in Rockland in the last century alone.
Global Warming could harm Maine.
Rising sea level could flood Maine coastal beaches, wetlands, roads, homes and towns, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.
Maine people could experience more severe storms, droughts, smog and asthma attacks.
Maine lakes and ponds could be choked by more algae blooms and reduced oxygen levels that would harm fish and the wildlife that depend on them.
Maine’s ski season and beautiful fall foliage could gradually diminish, undermining our tourism industry and economy.
Maine could see more health threats from insects, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus.