Views clash as DEP readies greenhouse gas reduction forced by citizen initiative

Attorneys, students and other supporters of 8% annual cuts in emissions say urgent action is needed, but industries call the proposed standards unrealistic and warn of a severe impact and business shutdowns.

Tapping a little-used section of state law, a grassroots group of attorneys and activists submitted nearly 700 petition signatures from registered voters calling for tougher standards on emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-warming gases. As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection is required to begin rulemaking on a proposal that supporters – including roughly a dozen middle and high school students – contend is necessary to reduce emissions that threaten Maine’s lobster and shellfish fisheries, seaside towns and public health............................“This whole concept is impossible to do and, if implemented, would shut down all large manufacturing in Maine,” warned Jim Robbins of Robbins Lumber Inc. in Searsmont. “Those jobs would then be exported to China, which is the worst-polluting country in the world.”............................A group of attorneys from 350 Maine, Our Children’s Trust, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Conservation Law Foundation, as well as a half-dozen or so other activists, submitted the rulemaking petition in January after collecting 696 valid signatures from registered voters. One of those attorneys, Beth Fuller Valentine of Gorham, said the petition builds on a first-in-the-nation law passed in 2003 that set short-term and long-term goals for reducing emissions in Maine............................................

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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