by Erik Slobe
Governor Janet Mills of Maine introduced a bill to the state legislature on Tuesday that calls for the state to increase the use of renewable energy such that 80 percent of electricity consumed in the state comes from renewable sources by 2030. The bill also calls for the creation of the Maine Climate Change Council to advise the state legislature and governor on “ways to mitigate the cause of, prepare for and adapt to the consequences of climate change.”
By January 1, 2030, the bill also calls for the reduction of gross annual greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below the 1990 annual greenhouse gas emissions level. This will increase to 80 percent below the 1990 emissions level by 2050. The electricity from renewable energy sources will also increase to 100 percent by 2050.
The Maine Climate Change Council will update the state climate change action plan every four years starting in 2020. The action plan will include mitigation strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adaption and resilience strategies for the impacts of climate change, and an evaluation of the current strategies addressing climate change. The plan will be submitted to the Legislature committee that oversees natural resource matters. The committee will then introduce any required bills based on the action plan.
The Council will include up to 36 members from a variety of backgrounds. This includes 14 members from various state regulatory agencies, four from the state legislature (two from each political party), and 18 representatives from various public interests. The representatives include representation from Maine’s energy sector, environmental nonprofits, business, tribes, and manufacturing industry. Each member serves for a two year term at a time. The Council may receive funding from government agencies as well as from private and nonprofit organizations.
There has been a growing amount of legislative actions in recent years to combat climate change. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report released in November warned of significant economic impacts due to climate change. New Mexico’s Governor signed an executive order in January to reduce methane gas emissions. US lawmakers introduced the Green New Deal in February to combat climate change.