Call on Maine Delegation to Support EPA Carbon Pollution Standards
Portland, ME – Today, professional winter sports athletes, business leaders, and climate scientists held a press conference highlighting the significant threat of climate change on skiing, riding, and other winter sports, and the importance of finding solutions to address climate change before these traditional activities, and the economic activity they generate, are lost forever.
Winter sports and recreation have long been an essential component of Maine’s economy and traditional way of life. These include downhill skiing and snowboarding, Nordic/cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice-fishing. The Maine Winter Sports Center in Aroostook County, for example, has become an international destination for training and competition in cross-country skiing and biathlon, training several U.S. Olympic athletes who competed in Sochi, Russia and previous Games.
“I grew up skiing in Maine and have been lucky enough to travel to five continents with my skis for Powder Magazine,” said Porter Fox, the features editor at POWDER Magazine and author of DEEP, The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. “While researching climate change and writing DEEP, I couldn’t believe what I found: 103 ski resorts in the Northeast will likely close in the next 30 years due to rising temperatures. We need to act now to ensure our children and grandchildren have a healthy and habitable planet and to keep snow in our mountains.”
Global warming is projected to profoundly affect winter recreation and tourism in the Northeast as winter temperatures continue to rise and snow cover declines.
“My three stores in Maine and New Hampshire depend on skiing and cold, snowy winters,” said Jamie Wright, Owner of Gorham Bike and Ski. “Winters that are warmer and less snowy cut into our sales and hurt my bottom line and the sport I love. Global warming presents serious threats to skiing and other winter sports.”
In the last decade, ice-fishing derbies on several Maine lakes have been canceled numerous times, including the major Sebago Lake Derby, which last year announced it was looking for a new lake to host this honored annual tradition because ice on Sebago Lake was not sufficient in too many recent years. Snowmobiling generates $3 billion/year in the northeast, and is arguably the largest winter recreation industry in the United States. Under high emission scenarios, the snowmobiling season could be reduced by 65% by mid-century.
“Winter recreation is an important part of Portland’s economy and way of life,” said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. “I am proud to say Portland has made great strides in sustainability and even been named the 7th greenest city in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure Magazine, but we need action on the federal level too, to solve our climate problems. The EPA’s proposed standards to cut carbon pollution from power plants are a great first step.”
In February nearly 250 Maine businesses released a letter, addressed to Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, calling for reduction in climate pollution from power plants, the largest source of climate pollution nationally.
“I have skied in the Northeast all of my life but the last ten years have been some of the warmest winters on record here,” said professional skier, Ben Leoni of Portland. “Unfortunately, for ski lovers like me, and the ski businesses that depend on snow, if we don’t act to stop climate pollution soon, we’ll see less snow in the region and shorter a ski season.”
“The University of Maine Climate Change Institute’s 2009 report found that, by 2050, in March we may see less snow at some of Maine’s most popular ski resorts and destinations,” said Professor Gordon Hamilton of the University of Maine Climate Change Institute. “Without action to reverse this trend, Maine’s ski seasons are likely to get shorter and shorter over time.”
“Skiing is an age old tradition in Maine and an important part of our state’s tourism-based economy,” said Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Climate change is a direct threat to Maine’s winter sports heritage and our way of life. Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed standards to cut carbon pollution from dirty power plants, clean up our air, and ensure our children have a safe and healthy planet.”