Say action on climate change pollution is important for Maine’s identity, culture.
NRCM news release
Today, business leaders gathered at the iconic Porthole Restaurant on Portland Harbor to release a letter to Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King urging their support for proposed national standards on power plant carbon pollution that are as strong as New England’s own.
So far, the letter has been signed by nearly 250 Maine businesses, including Lee Auto Malls, Lamey Wellehan Shoes, Mechanical Services, Baxter Brewing Company, Cole Haan, and Woodard & Curran, as well as innkeepers, outdoor guides, energy companies, small manufacturers, fishermen, farmers, shopkeepers, and many other types of business people from across the state.
“I am delighted that so many Maine businesses are yearning for solutions to climate change,” said Ken Macgowan, owner of The Porthole Restaurant and Casablanca Cruises. “We have so much at stake with the rising sea levels and increasingly severe weather that is coming our way due to climate change. Lobstermen tell me they are seeing worrisome changes in lobster stocks as the ocean warms and becomes more acidic. These guys are my friends and customers, but their industry is also a foundation of Maine’s thriving tourism.”
The letter urges Senator Collins and Senator King to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut climate pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act, emphasizing that “climate change poses a serious threat to Maine’s economy, environment, and quality of life.” They made the case that 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. This includes the many Maine businesses supported by tourism that are associated with lobsters and the working waterfront. A rising sea level and more extreme weather further imperil coastal properties, roads and infrastructure, and wildlife habitat. Climate change is also likely to increase smog and worsen public health, they said, hurting our economy through impacts to winter recreation, forest products, and other sectors.
“Maine has everything to gain and nothing to lose from these power plant pollution standards,” said Bonnie Frye Hemphill of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Mainers get stuck breathing the air from dirty coal plants in upwind states. While Maine and the Northeast have already taken concrete action to reduce power plant pollution, including through our Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the new EPA rules will ensure power plants across the country follow our lead.”
“I own and manage more than a million square feet of commercial property in communities all over Maine, many in downtowns located near rivers, so rising sea level, extreme weather, and other problems from climate change threaten the very foundations of business I have built,” said Kevin Mattson of Mattson Development. “In my buildings, I have found that common-sense climate solutions like energy efficiency and lower-carbon fuel sources save both pollution and dollars, and help me, and the businesses that are my tenants, focus on growing Maine’s economy. It’s only common sense to ask our Senators to support EPA measures to bring the rest of the country’s energy sector up to the same standards as New England’s.”
“When I consider the future of my business, climate change and ocean acidification are what keep me up at night,” said Bill Mook who founded Mook Sea Farm, an oyster farm on the Damariscotta River, in 1985. “As the Gulf of Maine becomes more and more corrosive to the fragile shells of young shellfish due to carbon pollution that comes largely from power plants, my business and Maine’s entire shellfish industry are in grave danger of literally dissolving away. The economic repercussions will echo far beyond those of us who directly depend on Maine’s water quality. I fervently urge Senator Collins and Senator King to support the EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.”
“For the last ten years I have worked on getting fuel economy standards raised in Maine and across the country,” said Adam Lee, Chairman, Lee Auto Malls. “During that time most of the automobile manufacturers claimed that cleaner cars that got higher fuel economy standards would not sell and would be bad for the economy. Well, 2013 was one of the best years in history for the automobile business. One of the primary drivers of the huge increase in new car sales was the availability of cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars. Ten years ago, if you wanted a car that got 35 miles per gallon or better you had around three to four choices at most. Today there are well over a dozen that get 40 mpg or better, from Toyota to Ford, or Mercedes to Volkswagen. Cleaner cars are not just good for the environment, they are good for business. If it works in Maine, it will across the entire nation. This is why I support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts at a national standard for carbon emissions from power plants. Just as Maine’s ingenuity has contributed to a thriving business for cleaner cars, our country can build on Maine’s leadership to clean up our power sector too.”
“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 Hemphill. “Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that the rest of the nation follow New England’s lead with power plant carbon limits as strong as ours, and Maine businesses support these common-sense proposals for clean air, the climate, and for their competitiveness. The support of Senators Collins and King will be crucial to their success.”
Nearly 250 Maine businesses have signed the “Maine Businesses for Climate Action” letter to Senator Collins and Senator King, organized by the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The list of signers is growing daily.
The EPA proposed carbon standards for new power plants in 2013 and is gathering public comments in order to finalize the rules. They have also been working to develop rules for existing power plants, due out in June, 2014 and already the subject of criticism from the coal industry and its political allies. President Obama has identified power plant carbon standards as a key element of his national plan to tackle climate change. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in effect in Maine and the Northeast includes both new and existing power plants and has been identified by the EPA and others as a possible mechanism to apply the standards in this region. Independent analysis has shown that RGGI has had a major net benefit to Maine’s economy.
About the Natural Resources Council of Maine
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is the leading nonprofit membership organization working statewide for clean air and water; healthy people, wildlife, and forests; and clean energy solutions. NRCM harnesses the power of science, the law, and the voices of supporters to protect the nature of Maine. Visit NRCM online at www.nrcm.org.