PORTLAND (WGME) -- State lawmakers are pushing a bill to significantly reduce Maine greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The bill, which has bipartisan support, could have wide impacts across the state.
L.D. 797 aims to limit greenhouse gas pollution and to more effectively use Maine's natural resources. The bill is presented by Democratic State Representative Ralph Tucker of Brunswick and cosponsored by Republican State Senator Robert Foley of York, along with a bipartisan team of state senators and representatives. They want Maine's greenhouse gas emissions to be 80 per cent below the 1990 levels by the year 2050. Senator Foley says this can benefit everyone.
"The best thing that can come out of this bill, is that we bring all sides of the issue together in a common set of goals that meets everybody's needs, both businesses, individuals, government," said Senator Foley.
In a public hearing Wednesday, dozens of Mainers ranging from scientists to business representatives were able to voice their opinions on the bill. The group Maine Conservation Voters in Augusta says this bill would be effective in fighting a changing climate, including in the Gulf of Maine, stating that it would be too expensive to not take action.
"We all have to do our part to combat climate change, and if we all do it together, we can actually stop this trend... We've had eight years of inaction on climate and clean energy, and Mainers are desperate for this," said Beth Ahearn, Director of Government Affairs for MCV. She presented for MCV during the public hearing.
Some business owners say it will be difficult to meet these new standards. Officials from Woodland Pulp in Baileyville say they have already spent 16 million dollars to become a part of the green economy by switching from oil to natural gas in recent years.
"Please don't ask more of us until other sectors of Maine's economy have made similar gains," said Scott Beal, Environmental and Security Manager for Woodland Pulp, who also spoke at the public hearing. He says to do more could significantly impact the business.
The Gulf of Main Research Institute has been tracking warming temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, noting that the gulf is warming faster than most other bodies of water across the world. The institute documents what that could mean for the State of Maine. Dr. Andrew Pershing of GMRI says there is a great deal of concern for what the younger generation will have to deal with decades down the line.
"It really is that horizon after 2050, where things get very scary, and if we do our part now to reduce carbon emissions, we can stabilize the climate, we can hold on to things like our lobster fishery at the end of this century," said Dr. Pershing, Chief Scientific Officer for GMRI.
State Senator Foley says he recognizes that this is an important issue for all Mainers. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will schedule a work session for the next step of this bill likely by next week.