State lawmaker presents Maine Green New Deal bill

Published: Apr. 23, 2019 at 6:51 PM EDT
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As members of Congress discuss a national Green New Deal aimed at addressing climate change, state Rep. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, is trying to take matters into her own hands on a state level.

A public hearing was held Tuesday on her bill called the Maine Green New Deal.

"The Green New Deal bill is asking one core question: As we transition to renewable energy, how do we ensure that all Mainers are treated equitably and fairly?" said Maxmin.

The bill's goal is to put Maine on a path to carbon neutrality while adapting the economy to create new green jobs.

It would create a task force with the responsibility of making a plan on how to best do that.

The bill would also require electricity providers to commit to having 80% of their retail electricity be from renewable sources by 2040.

"This is a bill that truly came out of conversations with my constituents when I was knocking on doors last year," said Maxmin. "It's rooted in rural and working Maine and meant to build a strong foundation that everybody can stand on as we fight for climate justice."

"This bill is really centered on equity, about thinking about the poorest and most marginalized people of Maine and how we can reduce poverty while building a sustainable and livable community here in Maine," said Paige Nygaard, who spoke in support of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has been one of the leaders pushing a national Green New Deal and says it's encouraging that Maine is taking action on a state level.

"It may be a little slow on the federal level, but to see my home state that's actually moving forward and doing these things... I think it's great," said Pingree. "There's a lot that has to be done, and I think in Maine we feel it particularly acutely."

Opponents say Maine is already addressing the energy issues brought up in this bill and that it's creating an unnecessary new commission.

"It's mostly a duplication of existing programs -- things that are going on already," said Rep. Jeffrey Hanley, R-Pittston, who sits on the Energy, Utilities, and Technology committee. "To me, it's a piece of legislation that we don't need. And the things that it's trying to promote, a lot of them are already in progress."

The bill faces further work in committee before a vote.