Portland, Maine—Environment Maine praised lawmakers today for defeating Gov. Paul LePage’s priority energy bill (LD 1863) late Friday night. The bill died after the House rejected it by a 75-66 vote, the Senate approved a significantly weakened version by a vote of 19-16, and the two houses could not agree.
“The governor’s original bill would have gutted Maine’s clean energy standard, which has an impressive track record cutting pollution, making us more energy independent, and fueling local economic development. We want to thank Rep. Stacey Fitts, Sen. Phil Bartlett, and other members on both sides of the aisle for their leadership in defending Maine’s progress on clean energy,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.
The introduced version of the bill would have removed the 100-megawatt (MW) cap on eligibility for hydroelectric and other non-wind renewable resources to participate in Maine’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Since there are no Maine renewable sources that exceed the 100-MW threshold, the bill would have allowed Hydro Quebec to flood the RPS market and push out Maine renewable resources.
On the mining bill, Environment Maine strongly criticized the Legislature’s passage of LD 1853, which weakens (1) groundwater standards for mining operations; (2) clean up requirements; and (3) standards intended to hold mining companies, not taxpayers, accountable for cleanup costs.
“Large open-pit mines have no place in Maine. They ravage the environment, contaminate drinking water, and often leave taxpayers to foot the bill for decades of clean up. We’re extremely disappointed that the Legislature weakened Maine’s mining law,” said Figdor.
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future. For more information, please visit www.environmentmaine.org
*Currently, 83 percent of the renewable energy used to meet Maine’s RPS comes from generation within Maine. In fact, we use more in-state resources to meet our RPS than any other New England state. LD 1863, as introduced, would have turned that on its head.
*London Economics International recently completed a comprehensive analysis of Maine’s RPS by for the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and the report found that the Maine RPS, in conjunction with the RPS in other New England states, is projected to create 11,700 jobs in Maine and increase the state’s economy (gross state product) by $1.1 billion or 2 percent, compared with a cost to the economy of 0.06 percent of GSP.