Maine and the nation are overly dependent on oil and other harmful forms of energy. Massive production and use of oil, coal, and gas continues to devastate air and water quality, harm wildlife, increase illness, and shorten lives—and these fuels are primary sources of global warming pollution.
In addition, Maine people and businesses send more than $5 billion out-of-state every year to buy fossil fuels, which puts an enormous drag on our economy. Fortunately, there are many solutions—the first step is to understand the problem of dirty fuels and come to terms with their true costs.
Tar sands oil is the dirtiest oil on the planet and threatens Maine in different ways. Learn about these threats and NRCM’s work to stop tar sands oil from coming to Maine. There is no single solution to reduce our use of these dirty fuels, no silver bullet, although using energy efficiently is key. A good first step is to understand the magnitude of dirty fuels we rely on, and the harm they create, both in Maine, and in places around the world that help feed our consumption.
Roughly 75-85% of the fossil fuels consumed by Maine—more than 1.5 billion gallons every year—are burned directly in our buildings and vehicles. The rest is used to generate electricity for us at power plants in Maine and across the state’s borders. About 9% of our power comes from coal plants and both coal mining and pollution from those power plants takes a heavy toll.
Maine’s biggest source of dirty fuel by far—totaling more than 1.5 billion gallons every year—is heating oil burned in our homes, and gasoline or diesel burned in our vehicles. Natural gas creates less pollution per unit of energy, but, because we burn so much of it for electricity in New England, the gas power plants that provide our electricity generate more global warming pollution in total than the coal plants that do so.
We can reduce Maine’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb our contribution to global warming by moving more aggressively to increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses, increase our use of clean, renewable sources of energy, dramatically increase vehicle fuel economy and transportation alternatives, and to ban the use of the dirtiest fuels, such as oil derived from tar sands.