After the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly halted the 2020 legislative session, the 130th Maine Legislature roared back to life in 2021 and had one of the “most productive environmental and energy legislatures in more than 30 years!” according to one veteran of Maine’s environmental advocacy community. Acadia Center was at the center of the session, testifying on 25 bills, supporting new PUC Commissioner Patrick Scully, engaging in dozens of strategy meetings, and achieving key victories across the buildings, power, and transportation sectors. For example, Acadia Center conceived and led successful passage of legislation that requires the Maine Public Utilities Commission to include achieving the state greenhouse gas reduction targets as a primary mission. The bill also opens the door for state agencies to take actions that consider equity and environmental justice goals in all state policy, programmatic, and regulatory decisions.
Acadia Center was a lead actor in the Maine Climate Council by developing recommendations to reduce emissions and address the impacts of climate change on residents, communities, industries, forests and ecosystems. We worked to implement Climate Action Plan goals like eliminating HFCs, promoting offshore wind, setting appliance standards, and increasing weatherization funding. We made a data-driven case to expand electrification for building heating and transportation. Acadia Center worked to advance bills to incentive renewables, energy storage, microgrids, and other non-wires alternatives in Maine’s electricity grid.
Acadia Center deployed its analytic, policy expertise and coalition partnerships to advance its goals, including prioritizing Climate Action Plan strategies and using our research and analyses to make the case to policymakers. We served on the Steering Committee and on the Leadership Team of Climate Maine, a broad-based coalition to support strong Maine state climate action and the legislative steps necessary to implement. Acadia Center elevated our PUC reform bill as one of four priorities by the Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition and steered advocacy to passage in the Legislature. Acadia Center earned media in the Portland Press Herald, Maine Public Radio and other outlets and placed op-eds on transportation, utility and regulatory reform, and building heating.
Even with the legislature wrapping up in July, our work is not finished. Acadia Center will be actively involved in the process for the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) to begin incorporating equity considerations in decision making at the Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Utilities Commission and other state agencies, including defining key terms like “environmental justice,” “environmental justice populations,” and “frontline communities.” The Legislature and Administration will also grapple with building codes for new construction, transportation emissions, energy efficiency, and other issues. Acadia Center will prioritize and engage accordingly.