Augusta, ME – Days before the annual meeting of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, Governor Baldacci received a letter from a diverse array of organizations, congratulating him on passage of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and calling for re-doubled efforts to curb global warming emissions. The Governors will discuss recommendations on global warming action that were drafted at a meeting in Quebec City last February.
The letter congratulates Governor Baldacci for his strong leadership on global warming, including the recent passage of LD 1851, which established Maine’s participation in RGGI and allows for significant increases in energy efficiency investments.
More than 130 groups from across the region signed the letter, including about 30 organizations and businesses in Maine. Signatories include colleges, public health advocates, interfaith associations, energy entrepreneurs, lobstermen and legislative leaders as well as a host of environmental groups.
“Limits on power plant emissions under RGGI and clean cars regulations passed last year in Maine are major accomplishments for Maine’s Climate Action Plan,” said Dylan Voorhees, Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “However Maine and the other New England states are not on track to meet the pollution reduction goals they set in 2001. That’s why we need renewed leadership and coordination at the Governors level.”
Maine could take advantage of many opportunities to reduce its biggest uses of energy and tap local sources of renewable energy, using technologies that are feasible today. Achieving the region’s near-term energy efficiency and renewable energy potential could shave our energy consumption by at least 18 percent and reduce the region’s global warming emissions by at least 20 percent, according to Tomorrow’s Energy Today, a report released today by the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
While the region experiences various aspects of an energy crisis, from high and volatile energy prices to strained infrastructure and supply to global warming, Tomorrow’s Energy Today underscores the availability and feasibility of solutions to New England’s energy problems.
“When it comes to energy policy, we’ve been on auto-pilot for too long,” said Matthew Davis of the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center. “We need to turn the wheel harder to steer our state to a new energy future.”
According to the new report (produced as part of New England Climate Coalition), a scenario that takes advantage of the region’s full near-term energy efficiency and renewable energy potential could cut: gasoline consumption by 21 percent; diesel fuel by 13 percent; natural gas by 22 percent; coal by 28 percent; nuclear power production by 26 per¬cent; and reduce the region’s emissions of carbon dioxide by nearly 20 percent.
These global warming reductions would exceed the mid-term goals for emission reductions of 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 set out in the New England Governors/East¬ern Canadian Premiers’ 2001 Climate Change Action Plan. The region’s governors head to the annual conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in Prince Edward Island (PEI) from June 25 to 26, to discuss energy, environmental and other issues.
“Governor Baldacci and his colleagues can move the ball forward by adopting proposals to implement new energy and transportation policies that will be on the agenda in PEI next week,” said Michael Stoddard, Deputy Director at Environment Northeast, who will be at the conference. “We hope the governors and premiers will also start a dialogue about establishing a provincial cap and trade system and closing any loopholes that, if unattended, could increase the amount of high-carbon electricity generated in Canada to satisfy exports to New England,” continued Stoddard.
“Our research shows that the solutions exist to curb global warming pollution and can keep our state on track to meet our commitment,” said Davis. “Now our leaders must renew that commitment at the coming governors and premiers meeting.”
By implementing technologies available today, New England can significantly reduce energy use and global warming emissions, including:
• Weatherizing homes to reduce their use of fuel for space heating during the cold winter months and reduce air conditioning demand in the summer;
• Improved water heaters and other major appliances for homeowners that achieve significant reductions in energy consumption;
• More energy-efficient space heating, cooling and lighting equipment in commercial buildings;
• More efficient motors in industrial facilities, along with smarter integration of motors into industrial processes; and
• Combined heat-and-power technology that allows business and industry to create heat and electricity at the same time – resulting in a large improvement in overall energy efficiency.
In addition, Tomorrow’s Energy Today reviewed New England’s solar and wind energy resources. Currently, very little of New England’s energy comes from within the region – only enough to power our homes, vehicles and businesses for 2 hours and 15 minutes of every day. Taking advantage of only a small share of our renewable resources could enable us to replace 10 percent of the region’s electricity generation with new renewable energy in the near future.
“Just yesterday the National Research Defense Council released an analysis that ranked Maine 15th on a list of states whose population is most vulnerable state to high gas prices. We were the only northeastern state in the top 30, and we were ranked 41st in terms of investment in transit alternatives. We need to take control of our fossil fuel consumption before it takes even greater control of us,” said Voorhees.