Action on climate-changing pollution critical to Maine’s economy, way of life
NRCM News Release
Today, clean energy business leaders gathered in Portland at ReVision Energy’s headquarters to release a letter urging Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King to continue their support for the Clean Power Plan. If ongoing efforts to repeal it are unsuccessful, the plan will be the biggest national action yet to cut carbon pollution from power plants, and power plants are the largest source of this climate-changing pollution in the nation.
So far, the letter has been signed by 46 Maine clean energy businesses, including Reed & Reed president and CEO Jack Parker, Evergreen Home Performance co-owners Elise Brown and Richard Burbank, Solaris owner Suzan Elichaa, ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe, Penobscot Home Performance founder Matt Damon, Upright Framework founder Josh Wojcik, Vice President for State Policy at SunEdison, and Goggin Energy founder and owner Ann Goggin.
The letter urges Senator Collins and Senator King to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalized Clean Power Plan, which sets the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The letter also acknowledges both Senators’ positive votes in November against a bill that would have repealed the Clean Power Plan before it could even get started. The letter emphasizes the importance of continuing to show their support in future months as corporate polluters with vested interests in coal and oil, along with their political allies from other regions, repeatedly try to block the plan in Congress.
“Maine people and businesses expect their Congressional leaders to stand up for Maine’s interests, and not be beholden to the ideologies and rhetoric from out-of-state corporate polluters,” said Margaret Hoyt of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We’re pleased to see that leadership from Senators Collins and King.”
“Nine years ago, Evergreen Home Performance looked at Maine’s combination of old houses, high oil dependence, and natural resources and saw a business opportunity,” says Evergreen Home Performance founder Richard Burbank. “Since then, we’ve transformed hundreds of Maine houses from energy hogs to comfortable, efficient, worry-free homes, giving homeowners a nice buffer against volatile fuel prices, and employed highly trained workers. And in a classic example of doing well by doing good, our business is thriving. Our neighbors in the Northeast — the other eight Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states — share our commitment to reducing carbon pollution from power plants, and ensuring that Maine is ready for the Clean Power Plan.”
Unfortunately Congressman Bruce Poliquin voted in favor of the Clean Power Plan repeal. His statements indicate he doesn’t understand or appreciate the fact that independent economists have shown that RGGI has created hundreds of jobs in Maine, including a $215 million net benefit to Maine’s economy and a boon to our environment, too.
“We do about 100 home energy savings projects every year, and we are always happy to make homeowners more comfortable in their homes,” said Josh Wojcik, founder of the family-owned Upright Frameworks. “Thanks to RGGI, incentives are available to homeowners for this work. It’s great that RGGI sets Maine on the right course to meet the Clean Power Plan, too.”
Through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Maine’s overall economy has grown and energy costs have been reduced. Funds from the program go towards reducing home heating costs with weatherization and efficient heating systems. “Maine is an excellent example, showing how states can reduce carbon emissions while strengthening their economy and increasing green jobs,” said Hoyt. “Maine and others have already taken concrete action to reduce power plant pollution but we get stuck breathing the air from dirty coal plants in upwind states that have weak emission rules. The new EPA rules will level the playing field, and ensure power plants across the country play by the same rules we do.”
“ReVision Energy strongly supports the Clean Power Plan. Power plants should not be given unlimited license to treat our sky like an open sewer,” says Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy. “The Clean Power Plan sets basic parameters to limit carbon pollution in the same way that there are limits on other pollutants like arsenic and mercury. Recognizing the costs associated with dumping carbon into the atmosphere reshapes the discussion dramatically. The benefits of solar energy, energy efficiency, and other renewable energy technologies will be even more obvious once we account for the real costs of carbon pollution.”
Climate change poses a serious threat to Maine’s economy, environment, and quality of life. Air pollution carried downwind from dirty power plants harms Mainers’ health and increases cases of asthma, cancer, and heart disease. Warmer temperatures increase the number of vector-borne diseases in Maine, specifically causing Lyme disease, carried by deer ticks, to skyrocket. Climate change also threatens Maine’s nature-based industries like farming, winter guiding, fishing, and skiing, by increasing the severity and frequency of storms and making weather patterns less predictable. In addition, warmer and more acidic oceans threaten the long-term viability of lobsters and other marine fisheries, jeopardizing the culture and economy of Maine’s coastal communities.
Maine is expected to meet its Clean Power Plan requirements by continued participation in RGGI, which limits pollution and generates funds through quarterly auctions of carbon credits. At the latest auction, on December 2, carbon credits brought in $4.2 million, primarily for Efficiency Maine to invest in energy improvements for Maine homes and businesses. Efficiency Maine’s annual report, released November 30, shows that RGGI provided almost all of the funds to help homes, large businesses, and industry reduce oil and other heating fuel costs. According to that report, in the year ending June 30, 2015, the Home Energy Savings Program yielded $43 million in lifetime home energy savings for nearly 10,000 homes, supporting hundreds of jobs in the clean energy sector at the same time.
“Maine business leaders are already seeing how climate change threatens Maine’s economy, environment, and way of life, and they are already building a cleaner, more efficient economy,” said Hoyt. “Now, the Clean Power Plan will guarantee the rest of the nation follows New England’s lead with power plant carbon limits as strong as ours. Maine’s clean energy businesses support these common-sense proposals because they create enormous economic opportunities as we transition to cleaner, more efficient energy solutions. It is crucial that we continue to see strong leadership from Senators Collins and King as corporate polluters with vested interests in coal and oil, and their political allies, are repeatedly trying to block the plan in Congress.”
Nearly 50 Maine businesses have signed the “Maine Clean Energy Businesses Support the Clean Power Plan” letter to Senator Collins and Senator King.
In the run up to the global climate talks in Paris, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) pushed through a bill that would repeal the plan, in part to weaken the U.S. position in any climate deal. Collins and King voted against the repeal bill, helping ensure it lacks the votes necessary to override President Obama’s veto. Over the coming months, there will likely be additional attempts by McConnell and his allies to repeal or block the Clean Power Plan, including through amendments to budget bills, which are necessary to keep the government running. The plan is an essential part of the commitment the U.S. made in Paris, along with nearly 200 other nations, to cut carbon pollution and keep the climate from unsafe levels of warming.