Good afternoon. My name is Brownie Carson. I am the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and I am pleased to be here today representing one of the 40 organizations that are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass federal climate and clean energy legislation this year.
Our 40 groups represent more than 140,000 Maine people, and we share a common view: Climate change is underway, it poses a serious long-term risk to Maine’s economy and environment, and the time to act is now.
Measures to counter climate change will increase Maine jobs, business prospects, and our energy security, while also protecting our environment.
The past decade was the warmest ever. Acidification of our oceans is threatening sea life. Glaciers around the world are melting. The web of nature is being disrupted worldwide, increasing the risk of species extinction.
Here in Maine, we are seeing earlier maple sap runs and ice out in our lakes and ponds, increasing sea level rise and coastal erosion. Climate change may also spread vector borne diseases into Maine, such as Lyme disease and Eastern equine encephalitis.
By the mid-century, Maine could see more heat waves, with high temperatures and ozone smog that increase, asthma rates, heart attacks and other risks to human health. These long-term impacts have been well documented by the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.
The warning signs from a warming earth are more and more apparent. But despite this growing evidence, the political gridlock in Washington on advancing a climate bill has been at times discouraging.
We know the problem, and we also know the solution: we must enact a system that caps and reduces carbon emissions, while spurring renewable energy development and energy efficiency investments.
Maine has a young and growing clean energy sector, with thousands of energy efficiency jobs and hundreds of companies working to build wind power and other renewables. With forward-looking energy policy enacted by Congress, this sector will advance rapidly and help Maine’s economy rebound. Most importantly, Maine people will save energy and money, and our state will have a better future.
Maine’s congressional delegation is well-positioned to help lead the nation and the world on a path to address our climate problems. Right now the debate is in the Senate, and Maine’s two Senators will be key to the final resolution. Senator Snowe and Senator Collins both clearly understand the climate problem, as demonstrated by their votes, statements, and actions on this issue in the past.
Now is the time to move forward. Just as the first Earth Day in 1970 signaled the arrival of a new era of environmental protection. We must now take action to address the threat of climate change.
Other nations around the world aren’t waiting. China, Germany, Denmark, and England are just a few of the countries moving aggressively to win the race for leadership in the clean energy market of our future.
Our country cannot afford to be a laggard – we must be a leader. That is why such a broad group of legislators and organizations are calling for action now. And that is why we look to Maine’s two Senators to use their considerable influence to help achieve a bipartisan, comprehensive climate and clean energy bill this year.
The future of Maine’s environment and economy depend on it.