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Environment and Outdoors

New grants will help 75 Maine communities prepare for climate change

Travel Maine Rockland
Beth J. Harpaz
This Aug. 18, 2014 photo shows people walking on the Rockland Breakwater, a man-made granite jetty that stretches nearly a mile into Penobscot Bay from Rockland, Maine.

Maine is providing funds to help 75 communities prepare for the effects of climate change.

The new grants come from the state's Community Resilience Partnership, which is intended to help municipalities reduce climate emissions and prepare for flooding, extreme weather and other consequences of a warming planet.

The $2.5 million in funds includes direct funding for specific projects, such as electric vehicle chargers. Other grants will be used to help organizations work together with municipalities to help start or advance climate planning efforts.

Hannah Pingree, the director of the Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, said the new resources come at a critical time. She said the federal government will soon be offering billions of dollars from last year's infrastructure law towards climate resilience, and the new partnerships will help small towns with limited resources begin planning and take advantage of the new funding.

"I think that's the point. We are trying to leverage opportunities for towns to rebuild their infrastructure, to plan for the future, as well as find ways to lower energy costs and save taxpayers money," Pingree said.

Julie Hashem, the community development director for the city of Rockland, said the city will use funding to develop an engineering plan to redevelop its aging piers and seawall along the downtown waterfront, which are vulnerable to increased storm surge and sea level rise.

"This is going to help us make the plan detailed and real enough that we'll have a shot at implementation funds. So we're really grateful," Hashem said.

Hashem says the new project also fits into the city's goals of developing projects that reduce carbon emissions and lower costs for the future.

Other projects include developing a plan in Dover-Foxcroft to assist vulnerable populations during extreme weather events with heating and cooling shelters, and the purchase of solar arrays in the town of Limestone, which will partner with the nearby Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

The state also announced that it would open up about $20 million in funding from the Maine Department of Transportation on Monday to improve drinking, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.