Yesterday Obama unveiled a significant new plan that would help America do its part to tackle climate change, spur economic opportunities, and help protect the health of Maine people and all Americans. The President’s proposal would accomplish this by limiting carbon pollution from all power plants, setting improved energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, boosting clean renewable energy, and helping American people, businesses, and communities deal with the effects of climate change.
“Climate change has serious implications for people’s health,” said Paul Perkins, a physician practicing in Bath and chair of Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Climate Change Committee. “President Obama’s new plan will save lives and reduce illness and suffering. His vision is a bold step that may help to reduce heat related illnesses and death, asthma attacks and respiratory illnesses, more frequent accidents and injury from severe weather events, and here in Maine, the well documented spread of Lyme Disease.”
In Maine, climate change is contributing to soaring temperatures, destructive sea level rise, the loss of wildlife, diseases from new invasive species, and numerous other problems â which are only projected to get worse.
The President’s decision to take action to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants will significantly address, for the first time ever, the largest unlimited source of carbon pollution, namely carbon pollution from power plants. Since power plants contribute 40 percent of the U.S. industrial carbon pollution, cleaning up power plants is key to protecting Mainers and other Americans from the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“Cleaning up pollution is not only good for the environment and our health, but it’s good for the economy too,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Tackling climate change by focusing on pollution from power plants is going to encourage the development of new sources of clean energy like the wind and tidal power being developed in Maine. As part of RGGI, Maine has already begun to address carbon pollution from power plants, but we need a national policy like the President outlined to make sure we make additional progress, and to make sure power plants in other parts of the country are doing their fair share.”
“Yesterday, President Obama announced a major climate change action plan that will help Maine and all Americans tackle the gravest environmental threat of our time, plus spur economic opportunities and protect our health,” said Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. For 20 years NRCM has worked to clean up power plant pollution through filing lawsuits, testifying before Congress, meeting with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Maine’s Congressional delegation, and delivering thousands of messages from Maine people directly to Washington. “We are pleased that the President has listened to the American people and shown his leadership and determination to address climate change. We particularly recognize the importance of setting carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants.”
President Obama’s speech also included a surprise announcement on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which has direct relevance to Maine. The President said that he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it increases carbon pollution.
“The evidence is clear that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase carbon pollution — as will reversing the flow of the old Portland-Montreal pipeline to carry tar sands through Maine to Casco Bay for export. Yesterday’s statement sets a climate standard for tar sands pipelines that the Maine pipeline project cannot meet. We urge President Obama to require a new Presidential Permit for the project — and then to reject it,” said Environment Maine Field Organizer Alysha McClain.
“The President’s climate plan is akin to the carbon reduction goals of the City of Portland. It is great to see action by the federal government to reduce emissions from power plants. Now it is time to stop to the tar sand pipelines to keep our carbon emissions in check,” said Portland City Councilor David Marshall.
“Cities are on the front line for impacts from climate change, and we’ve taken the challenge of reducing carbon pollution seriously,” says Waterville Mayor Karen Heck. “It is great news that President Obama is now trying to move the entire country in the right direction. Cleaning up power plants is something we need his leadership on.”
“It is more clear every year that Maine’s cities and towns are threatened by climate change,” said John Rohman, former Mayor of Bangor. “For example, increased storms and flooding threaten our infrastructure and raise municipal costs. This news from the President about taking serious action to reduce pollution that worsens climate change is very welcome and well overdue.”
“If we don’t do more to reduce the impacts of climate change, we all are in serious trouble,” says Mike Hurley, former Mayor of Belfast, Maine. “Especially coastal cities, even small ones like my home town that will bear the combined impacts of rising seas, and increased storms and flooding. Maine of all places knows that reducing industrial power plant pollution is essential to our state — the threat of climate change makes it even more true. We welcome this important news from the White House.”
If America fails to act, climate change would bring us even more destructive and deadly extreme weather; hotter global temperatures; rising seas battering coastlines; life-threatening diseases; and skyrocketing costs for disaster recovery.
Just this week a new scientific report showed that climate change could devastate some of Maine’s most precious birds, from puffins to Bicknell’s Thrush. And, yesterday, high heat and smog led the state to issue an air quality warning for coastal Maine, recommending that people limit outdoor activity.
“We stand ready to make President Obama’s climate plan a reality, and the first of many steps to safeguard our children’s future,” concluded McClain.
- In 2012, Maine experienced a total of 40 broken heat records, and 8 broken precipitation records.
- The number of poor air quality days in cities such as Augusta could quadruple by the end of the century.
- Due to severe storms and flooding, Maine has declared disaster 18 times since 2000.
- Sea-level rise and increased precipitation could jeopardize cities’ infrastructure. Rainfall is expected to increase 20-30% by late century.