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To Mark One Year of Progress in Maine’s Climate Plan, Governor Mills Unveils New Initiatives to Empower Communities in the Fight Against Climate Change

To Mark One Year of Progress in Maine’s Climate Plan, Governor Mills Unveils New Initiatives to Empower Communities in the Fight Against Climate Change

Governor Mills speaking on the anniversary of Maine Won't Wait

In Maine, the 2021 record year saw record numbers in terms of electric vehicle registrations, public charging stations, and heat pump installations.

Orono, MAINE – To mark the one-year anniversary of Maine’s four-year climate plan, Maine Won’t Wait, Governor Janet Mills today announced two new initiatives that will empower Maine communities to better safeguard themselves and their residents against the impacts of climate changes.

Today, the Governor unveiled the Community Resilience Partnership, a $4.75 million program through the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future that will provide grants and technical assistance to municipal and tribal governments to start or enhance their local climate action plans, and undertake community projects to curb carbon emissions, transition to clean energy, and become more resilient to the effects of climate change. In January, the Partnership will be open for community enrollment.

Governor Mills speaking on the anniversary of Maine Won't Wait

The Governor also announced that the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund was created by the Maine Department of Transportation. This $20 million program will provide grants to municipalities and tribal governments to improve stormwater, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to withstand flooding, rising sea levels and extreme weather. MaineDOT expects to receive grant applications from communities by Spring 2022.

The new initiatives are an effort to support towns and cities across Maine as they launch local efforts to address climate change in their communities, following priorities laid out in the state’s climate plan. Today’s announcement was made in Orono by Governor Kathleen Quinn in recognition of the regional climate partnership that was formed this year by Orono and the City of Bangor, as well as Husson University and the University of Maine.

Both of the Governor’s new initiatives reflect leading recommendations of Maine Won’t Wait and represent another milestone and the one-year anniversary of the state’s four-year climate action plan announced by the Maine Climate Council on December 1, 2020.

“In Maine, our lands and waters are our way of life – where we earn our livelihoods, raise our families, and find fulfillment and peace. Inextricably connected to the place we call home and love, indeed. But the climate crisis – a code red for humanity – is disrupting our cherished way of life, threatening our economy, and endangering our future,” Janet Mills, Governor. “With the very future of our state and its people at stake, Maine is not waiting to act. After years of delay we are making unprecedented progress to embrace clean energies, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen our economy. We also partner with communities in the fight against the greatest threat of all time. We will use our climate action plan to combat this crisis and protect our communities and people from its harmful effects. We owe no less to future generations so that they may live in a Maine that is as beautiful and bountiful as it is today.”

“We’re proud of the extraordinary progress Maine has achieved toward our climate goals over the past year, asMaine Won’t Wait has become a blueprint for climate action for Maine people, businesses and communities who recognize the urgency of the fight against climate change,” said Maine Climate Council co-chairs Hannah Pingree, Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “With climate change now called a code red for humanity, we must continue to act with urgency to protect our state and make the most of this historic moment in which we have the methods and means to make a difference.”

“Building community resiliency to climate change requires bold action, strong partnerships, and investment in financial and technical assistance that municipalities need to implement solutions,” James Gardner, Town of Manager of Easton, and President of the Maine Municipal Association, said this.Maine Won’t WaitIt provides us with a blueprint to not only work together, but also make meaningful changes. I thank Governor Mills for taking the time necessary to build partnerships with municipal leaders across Maine, who are eager to address the negative impacts of climate change.”

“The Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund will help us make strategic investments in projects designed to address climate effects on critical infrastructure,” Bruce Van Note is the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “Our goal is to work in partnership with local communities and tribes to get this money where it’s needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. These timely investments will support public safety, protect our natural resources, and enhance our quality of life.”

Today’s Governor also celebrated a year in which Maineans made significant progress in combating climate change. He noted that Maine has seen record numbers of electric vehicle registrations (5.677) and sales rebates (1.220), public charging stations (246), as well as the installation of high-efficiency heat pump for heating and cooling (more then 28,000 in a single year). All of these measures reduce Maine’s reliance on expensive and harmful fossil fuels and emissions from the state’s two leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation and buildings.

“Last year the Efficiency Maine programs saw record participation in heat pumps, EVs and EV chargers, which helps Maine’s climate goals and means more homes and businesses will enjoy lower energy bills,” Michael Stoddard, Executive director of Efficiency Maine. “We are especially grateful to the hundreds of small businesses, and their growing workforce, who worked so hard to market and install these new technologies during challenging times, and we look forward to helping even more Maine people make essential efficiency investments into the future.”

Maine is also on track to meet its 2030 goal of using 80 per cent renewable energy. This is one of the most ambitious targets in the country and an important step to reduce emissions and dependence upon imported fossil fuels. The increasing costs of these fuels are due to volatility in global energy markets.

The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future today also launched a new website, mainewontwait.org, to raise awareness about Maine’s climate plan, inform Maine people, communities, and businesses about the effects of climate change on Maine, and determine ways to take climate action recommended by the plan.

Since her election in 2019, Governor Mills made climate change in Maine a priority by reducing carbon emissions and switching to renewable energy. She has pledged Maine will be carbon-neutral by 2045, and with the bipartisan support of the Legislature, the state has enacted among the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy and emissions reduction targets for Maine.

Maine has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is currently preparing the next biennial greenhouse emission inventory release in early 2022. It will include both net and gross emissions estimates for the first-time.

Governor Mills has committed to more than doubling Maine’s clean energy jobs to 30,000 by 2030. She introduced and signed legislation banning hydrofluorocarbons, a powerful greenhouse gas that is used in refrigeration and other products. She also made Maine one the first state to adopt targets for battery storage for renewable energy.

“Our collective work to reduce pollution and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy is paying dividends today and for future generations,” Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of Natural Resources Council of Maine “Using the blueprint provided by the Climate Action Plan, Maine people, towns, and businesses have shown they won’t wait to take climate action. Through her bold climate leadership, Governor Mills is providing the impetus for meaningful, sustained progress toward our climate goals.”

“We’re proud of how strongly the state is moving to respond to climate change, the single biggest threat to Maine’s wildlife and habitat,”Andy Beahm, Executive director of Maine Audubon. “Our iconic species are counting on us to act, and, with strong leadership from the Mills Administration, Maine’s legislature, our municipalities, and our people are rising to meet the challenges before us.”

“One year into implementing Maine Won’t Wait, it is clear that Maine is on the right path to meet the promise of our Climate Action Plan to address the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand,” said Kathleen Meil, Director of Policy & Partnerships at Maine Conservation Voters. “Progress toward safeguarding Maine’s climate future would not be possible without Governor Mills’ unwavering commitment to tackling this crisis. Maine is a climate action leader because of our state’s bold efforts to plan for climate impacts and take action to protect Maine people and our economy. We look forward to continuing the vital work of implementation over the next several years alongside Maine’s dedicated climate community.”

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“Investing in Maine’s resilience is crucial for Maine’s natural and social communities is imperative.” Kate Dempsey (State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Maine) and a member the Maine Climate Council.“This investment, together with emission reductions, will help Maine’s towns face climate change. It will also create a brighter future for people as well as nature. This is a model for the country and the world that all Mainers can be proud of.

Governor Mills has also made historic investments in climate priorities thanks to Maine’s strong economic recovery and the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the governor’s plan for allocating nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to Maine.

Through the biennial budget and Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills has invested in climate priorities, including:

  • $50 MillionEnergy efficiency programs, such a residential weatherization or efficiency upgrades for schools, towns and non-profits.
  • $50 MillionFor affordable housing, which includes assistance to communities, developers, builders to encourage construction of affordable, efficient housing units close by service and employment centers, and to reduce travel time.
  • $8 million to advancing clean energy partnerships and initiatives to grow workforce and innovation in Maine’s clean energy sector.
  • $8 millionTo increase municipal and public electric vehicle charging.
  • $40 Million for land conservation, which contributes to Maine’s fight against climate change by maximizing carbon storage, supporting working waterfronts, farms, and forests, and ensuring valuable ecosystems remain in place for future generations.

Recent legislation, the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act, committed more than $2.4 billion to Maine. This includes significant funds for climate plan priorities like EV charging infrastructure, home weatherization and energy efficiency programs.

A new Federal law will also make available billions more in competitive funding to the states for electrifying bus fleets and modernizing electric grids.

Since taking office, Governor Mills has enacted legislation to support solar energy in Maine, which has resulted in 325 megawatts of solar power installed in the state through October 2021, a more than four-fold increase from 70 megawatts installed in Maine in 2019, and to responsibly advance Maine’s opportunity for abundant renewable energy and significant economic development from offshore wind.

Maine Won’t WaitThis unprecedented public process resulted in the Maine Climate Council’s creation. It was composed of contributions from more than 200 people, including six expert working groups and a scientific and technical subcommittee.

Its strategies reflect the input from thousands of other Maine people and stakeholders that produced bold, actionable strategies to addressing one of Maine’s most pressing long-term problems.

This plan was the culmination many of the significant steps taken by the Mills Administration to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Maine.

Maine joined the United States Climate Alliance. This bipartisan coalition of Governors from both parties committed to climate action. It removed a moratorium for clean wind power development and retracted Maine from a national off-shore drilling coalition.

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