Friday May 17th, state director Carissa Maurin gave the following testimony on behalf of Enviornment Maine in support of Govenor Janet Mills' and Senator David Woodsome's bill LD 1679 ‘An Act To Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council’. This bill would establish the Maine Climate Change Council to assist Maine to mitigate, prepare for and adapt to climate change, provides that by January 1, 2030 80 percent of electricity consumed in the State must come from renewable resources and by January 1, 2050 100 percent of electricity consumed in the State must come from renewable resources, and updated the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required in statute to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and 45 percent by 2030. Her testimony is as following:

“Good morning Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and distinguished members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Thank you for allowing me to present this testimony. My name is Carissa Maurin, I am the State Director at Environment Maine, and I am speaking to you today in support of LD 1679 ‘An Act To Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council’.

Our state has so much at stake, from the vital lobster industry to our beautiful forests. Climate change is not only warming our waters but altering its chemistry making it more acidic, affecting our shellfish. The Climate Council will will focus on the broad impacts of climate change. Climate change effects so many different aspects from infrastructure changes from sea level rise to extreme drought and rainfall altering our growing season. Our public health is also suffering from a surge of lyme disease and increased adult asthma rates, made worse by rising temperatures. The Climate Council will make sure that all Mainers are represented.

The main barriers to 100% renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gasses have been political rather than technological. Maine is rising above that to move America toward a clean and renewable future. This bipartisan bill sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 which is based on the science-driven conclusion from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that we need to prevent global temperature from increasing 2°C from preindustrial levels or else there is no turning back. Carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere surpassed 415 parts per million this past Friday. Carbon dioxide levels haven’t been this high since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.

It also sets goal of requiring that 80 percent of the electricity sold in Maine come from renewable energy, with a longer term target of 100 percent by 2050. Shifting to 100 percent renewable energy will help address our largest environmental impact by reducing fossil fuel use. Renewable energy makes us safer and healthier and protects our communities from global warming and hazardous air pollution. We also need to pass LD 1494, which prioritize new in-state renewables, to actually achieve this goal.  Increasing our in-state renewables will make us energy independent so we’re not relying on imported fossil fuels, improve our air quality while reducing our carbon footprint, and advance our economy by creating new local jobs. LD 1711 is also important because it would remove the 9-person cap on community solar and make solar power more affordable and accessible for low- and moderate- income households.

Maine is showing the nation that we are a leader in solving environmental issues, with our first-in-the-nation state-wide polystyrene ban and now with bipartisan action on climate change. Robert F. Kennedy once said that each time we stand up for an ideal, we send forth a “tiny ripple of hope.” The ripple Maine is starting today with this amazing bipartisan action will hopefully spread south and west across the country to get clean energy on the grid and reduce our carbon emissions. Thank you, Gov. Mills and Sen. Woodsome for your bold commitment to combat climate change and I hope the committee will vote “ought to pass” on LD 1679.”