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Gov. Mills Outlines Ambitious State Plan To Address Climate Change

Robert F. Bukaty
AP Photo
Gov. Janet Mills delivers her State of the Budget address to the Legislature, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.

Gov. Janet Mills said that her administration is committed to addressing the threats posed by climate change.

In her address to the annual meeting of the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine on Thursday, Mills vowed that addressing climate change will be a major goal of her administration.

“It is changing rapidly and will have profound implications for all of us and future generations, and we have very little time to address it,” Mills said.

While she acknowledged that climate change is a world-wide problem that requires international attention, Mills said Maine should do what it can. She announced that she has joined with governors from 21 other states in a group called the United States Climate Alliance, which is working to meet the pollution reduction goals set forth in the Paris Climate accord. Mills said that Maine is adopting a goal of generating 80 percent of its electricity needs using renewable sources by the year 2030. By 2050, she said all of the state’s electricity will come from renewables.

Mills is also calling on the legislature to create the Maine Climate Council to plan how to achieve those goals.

“We do not have more time, the time for action is now,” she said. “Wise, prudent, informed action, but action nonetheless.”

Following her speech, Mills was pressed by reporters on what initiatives she might get the legislature to approve and when. Mills responded by saying that there are bills before the legislature now that could be amended to meet the goals of the Council. But she said that not all action depends on legislation.

“Things we can do administratively, we’ll do it,” she said. “Things that we can do through Efficiency Maine Trust, we’ll do it. Things that we can implement through the universities research and development, we’ll do it. Executive Orders, we’ll do it.”

Mills drew praise from several environmental groups. Maine Conservation Voters said in a statement that she had set “ambitious, but achievable” goals for the reduction of carbon pollution from Maine and for developing renewable energy sources for the state.

Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine was in the audience for Mills speech.

“What was really striking to me, listening to the Governor today, was how clear-eyed she is about the need to address climate and to do so effectively,” said Voorhees.

Voorhees said he doesn’t expect the Council or the legislature to address all the issues around climate change this year, but he does believe that they will make a good start before this session ends in June.

Originally published Feb. 28, 2019 4:49 p.m.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.