Maine’s bold climate action plan will require money, commitment

Flooded buildings and eroded beaches. More illness from ticks, mosquitos and high heat. A reduced lobster harvest, with crustaceans moving northward to cooler water. Down East weather that resembles present-day Rhode Island.

Those are some of the ways scientists say Maine will change over the next 30 years unless substantial steps are taken now.

To help slow the change, they say Maine urgently needs to slash greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the myriad impacts of a climate that’s changing so quickly, it poses a cascading threat to the health, prosperity and way of life of every resident and enterprise.

The primary way to do it is to encourage a quick pivot from gasoline and heating oil, Maine’s dominant, longstanding energy options for fueling cars and warming homes. In their place, electricity from renewable generation such as wind and solar, coupled with evolving storage technology, will power electric vehicles and efficient heat pumps.

These areas get special attention because transportation accounts for 54 percent of Maine’s climate-warming emissions, followed by 19 percent for home heating.

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Notably, the plan demurred on endorsing a compact of East Coast states including Maine called the Transportation Climate Initiative. That approach would require fuel distributors to bid into a shrinking limit, or cap, of greenhouse gas emissions. Money raised through the process would go to states to help fund electric vehicles, mass transit and other priorities.

Environmental advocates are for it. Acadia Center, a clean-energy advocacy group with an office in Maine, is pushing for Maine to support what it calls “the only policy proposal that would reduce emissions while providing a stable and sustainable revenue source.”

Read the full article in the Portland Press Herald here

Gas or clean energy? How should Aquidneck Island stay warm?

If anything, the natural gas outage on Aquidneck Island in January 2019 exposed the vulnerabilities of an area that is literally at the end of the pipeline network that sends gas around New England.

The interruption, which left thousands of people without heat on some of the coldest days that winter, was the result of an extraordinary set of circumstances — a malfunctioning valve on a transmission line in Massachusetts, a spike in demand caused by the frigid weather and the failure of a liquefied natural gas plant in Providence to pump much-needed supplies into the system.

National Grid, the only utility that distributes gas in Rhode Island, is looking at ways to shore up the system on the island to try to prevent another outage from occurring.

It may seem a simple matter but many of the options proposed by the company rely on some type of expansion of the gas infrastructure on the island. Environmental advocates, meanwhile, argue that the last thing anyone should be doing in an era of climate change is ramping up use of a fossil fuel that would lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Every time you light a new fire with a new gas furnace, that’s a fire that’s going to burn for the next 20 or 30 years,” said Hank Webster, Rhode Island director for the Acadia Center, a Boston-based group that specializes in clean-energy issues.

Read the full article from the Providence Journal here