Despite the stakes, Maine is missing from climate change response

Despite the stakes, Maine is missing from climate change response

When President Trump announced last week that he intended to pull the United States out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement, a bipartisan coalition of governors and mayors around the country stepped up into the void of moral leadership left by the administration by committing to carry on the emission reduction goals of the agreement with or without the assistance of the federal government, under the banner of the U.S. Climate Alliance.

Right now comprising ten states and over 60 cities, New England is overrepresented in the Alliance with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont— the latter two of which are currently governed by Republican administrations— all signing on to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Noticeably absent in the state level fight to avert global environmental catastrophe are New Hampshire, and our very own state of Maine.

From a purely logical standpoint, it is shocking that Maine would not be leading the charge to avert the ecologically and economically devastating impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, and sea level rise, given our nearly 3,500 miles of coastline, and our economic and cultural connection to the Gulf of Maine and its fisheries. As has been clearly documented in recent years, the Gulf is warming faster than virtually any other spot on the globe, causing noticeable and often dramatic changes to the distribution of lobster and other coldwater species, pushing habitats farther and farther north as warming continues. Ocean acidification caused by skyrocketing levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere has begun to decimate shellfish populations.

While the LePage administration has refused so far to comment on Trump’s actions regarding the Paris Agreement, it is increasingly clear that LePage has roughly as little interest in standing up to the Trump administration as it does in protecting our coastal fisheries. While Democratic and Republican leaders across the U.S. have been positioning themselves to ride the wave of the ongoing technological revolution in green energy, LePage has been actively hostile to the expansion of wind and solar in Maine, infamously working to scuttle more than $70 million in offshore wind development in 2013, and just this year demanding that his own appointees to the Public Utilities Commission resign after they weakened—but did not completely eliminate— standards that allowed solar panel owners to sell excess energy back to the grid.

The U.S. Climate Alliance may represent a ray of hope for state and local resistance as Trump continues to push an irrational and aggressive anti-environmental policy at the national level, but in the case of Maine it serves as yet another reminder that when the Governor has had opportunities to take the lead in the fight against climate change, he has instead chosen to keep his head in the sand or worse, march us enthusiastically backwards.

Photo via Andi Parkinson.

About author

Grady Burns
Grady Burns 44 posts

Grady Burns is an activist on issues involving young Mainers. He serves on the Auburn City Council and is president of the Maine Young Democrats.

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