Governor-elect Janet Mills campaign position on Environment and Energy, October, 2018
Protecting Our Environment & Embracing Our Clean Energy Future: Action Menu
Maine’s environment is a cornerstone of our economy and an integral part of our culture and heritage. That’s why as Attorney General, I stood up to Scott Pruitt to fight against the rollback of greenhouse gas emissions standards, and to force the EPA to meet Clean Air Act requirements. That’s also why, as a legislator, I consistently voted in favor of clean air and clean water, while also preserving public lands. I was proud to receive high marks during my six years in the legislature from several environmental organizations.
However, for the past eight years, Maine’s governor has worked systematically to prevent Maine from becoming energy independent and from fighting climate change. Now, my Republican opponent Shawn Moody, who denies climate science, is prepared to continue that legacy.
My Administration will chart a new direction – one that will see Maine reclaim its place as a national leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We can reduce our spending on fossil fuels by billions of dollars, and at the same time create thousands of new jobs. We can reduce pollution, keep our air, water, and earth clean, and embrace our historic legacy as a state that champions its natural resources.
In order to achieve a brighter, cleaner future, my Administration will:
- Encourage decentralized energy production and widespread solarization through a net metering policy and a system of fair compensation for rooftop solar owners and electric utilities.
- Change existing regulations to allow larger solar farms and more individuals and organizations that can participate in community solar projects.
- Create carve outs for solar projects that benefit low income residents, municipalities, and community solar projects.
- Increase financing for weatherization, heat pumps, and photovolitics through electric bills.
- Continue to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Efficiency Maine Trust, and closely monitor Maine’s utility involvement in ISO New England to be sure Maine’s interests are protected.
- Pass legislation that supports development of offshore wind power.
- Set an aggressive goal to reduce climate pollution 80 percent by 2030. Now is the time to show the political will and leadership to make it happen.
- Instruct the DEP to strive for the highest practicable water quality standards on Maine rivers.
- Staff the relevant agencies with experts who believe in the mission of protecting Maine’s environment.
- Appoint members of the Public Utilities Commission committed to pursuing the needs of consumers.
- Work with business and industry to benchmark Maine’s electric and gas transmission costs and energy costs and to find ways from across the globe to drive costs down. We can do this. The evolution of offshore wind costs and large array solar costs are good examples of energy sources that appear poised to begin to lower the cost of fighting global warming.
- Champion new funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program. One of the state’s most popular programs, LMF has enhanced the state’s long-term economic health by conserving key assets like working farms, working forests, waterfronts for commercial fishing opportunities and key tourism and recreation sites across Maine.
- Enhance working forest land by once again seeking federal Forest Legacy funding to support timber-sector jobs, ensure sustainable forestry, conserve wildlife habitat, and guarantee recreational access.
- Help lead an ambitious effort to diversify the Maine’s rural communities and the state’s forest economy by attracting capital investments, and developing greater, more diverse economic prosperity for communities impacted by recent mill closures.
- Establish the Office of Policy Innovation to provide independent analysis to the Governor and Legislature on a variety of state economic, community development and natural resource issues.
- Invest in wildlife habitat, recreation and conservation actions.
- Support consistent state bond funding for the municipal stream crossing program to help towns improve their infrastructure, keep roads safe for all users, and enhance habitat for fish.
- Promote a 21st century transportation infrastructure and system that supports and encourages all modes of transportation, especially those that will reduce carbon pollution.
The Opportunity Awaiting The 2018 Electoral Winners
November 14 and 15, 2018, individually addressed e-mails were sent to Governor-elect Mills and the winners of House and Senate seats in Maine’s 129th Legislature. The e-mail and its attachment are reproduced below.
Congratulations! You have won election to Maine’s 129th Legislature.
Just last month two events occurred which afford you and your new colleagues an opportunity to accomplish something crucial for Maine and Mainers’ futures and those who follow along behind us.
The first was the release of the latest scientific consensus of the International Panel on Climate Change: Earth has much less time to address an even more stark climate challenge than previously known. As if to underscore that message, only days later other scientists concluded that the role of the ocean in absorbing excess heat appears to have been very seriously underestimated. [Nota Bene: Just now, on an e-mail break midway through sending these e-mails to every Maine legislator, tonight’s news appears to retract this second study. But the first consensus IPCC report is more than enough!]
Maine, like just about everybody else world wide, is fully complicit in the impending climate upheaval. The 129th Legislature could make a huge contribution to the state, nation and world by imaginatively and totally committing itself to the effort to save our own environment and do our part for the earth as a whole. Or, it could become yet another body that in effect refused. It is the critical moral choice of our time.
Mainers in the aggregate every single year, collectively spend somewhere between $4 and $6 billion on fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, and propane). Individuals, families, and businesses here invest annually more money in those fossil fuels than we spend on all of state government. We’ve got to shift virtually all our energy supply to renewables in a little more than a decade. To meet the climate threat, we and everyone else on the planet will have, by 2030, to cease the use of fossil fuels entirely for purposes of energy.
Unfortunately, Maine government and its citizen legislature are ill-equipped to even begin. Energy policy responsibilities are divided up among five different legislative committees. The executive branch administering Maine energy policy is similarly fragmented and virtually uncoordinated. After the last administration many key individuals in place for at least several years to come were appointed out of the mistaken conviction that climate change isn’t real. Their minds must be changed or the individuals replaced, somehow, some way. Making matters worse, Maine does not have any multi-disciplinary non-partisan policy arm (let alone one robust enough) to examine, project into the future, and measure the consequences and implications of alternative approaches to achieving the many needed objectives to reach the climate saving goal.
Attached to this e-mail is an illustrative, incomplete, interconnected rendering of subsidiary tasks that Maine must accomplish to contribute to the aim of saving our own environment along with that of the rest of the planet.
A comprehensive orchestrated agenda aimed at reversing the march of climate change should shape your energies for the next two years. Unless we set ourselves on such a course, all else will prove to be of secondary importance.
This goal can be achieved. From a moral perspective, it must be.
It’s your choice. Please make it!
Hendrik D. Gideonse, 119 Old County Road, Brooklin, ME 04616
PS: As some of you returning to the 129th know, for several years I have been applying this perspective to various and sundry energy proposals that have come before the legislature. That journey and its guiding framework are more fully captured at www.mainelongrangeenergyplanning.com.
Important Disclaimer: Energy planning to address climate change is a multi-disciplinary societally-wide issue. The pursuit of the many elements of that quest on our economy, society, and government will cut a wide swath across our lives. The fundamental truth of climate and ecology is that “everything relates to everything else.” Readers addressing these pages, therefore, should recognize it has been written by a single individual working virtually alone (albeit for some years now) and is, therefore, something, to be vetted by the full range of specialties, talents, and experiences a citizen legislature — and many, many others — must bring to bear.
An Illustrative List of Policy Elements for Energy Source Transformation
1. The scientific evidence is now clear: Maine (and the rest of the world) must, within the next dozen years, withdraw virtually entirely from the use of fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, natural gas, heating oil, propane, etc.) for energy purposes. There is no guarantee we’ll succeed, but without trying and if we don’t succeed, science makes clear earth will be subjected to wind, rain and fire, floods on land and rising seas, drought and attendant agricultural challenges, mass starvation, climate migration, and international conflict. Doing nothing – or not enough – is out of the question. But even striving in the directions required will change all of our lives beginning right now. Each renewable energy source listed below will require its own individual policy considerations in the Maine context – feasibility, productive capacity, cost, knowns and unknowns, infrastructure requirements and plan, developmental plans, linkage to the grid, accommodating decentralized generation and grid management, etc.
c. (perhaps) nuclear
2. How can this essential goal and its equally important companion goal — “holding harmless” all those who might otherwise be hurt in some way by the needed policy changes — be accomplished?
a. Who might these be? (e.g. gas and oil dealers, internal combustion mechanics, those possessing inventories of fossil-fuel-using equipment, those making livings plying fossil fuel related jobs, etc.)
b. What does being “held harmless” mean? (e.g. addressing loss of income, retraining costs, recovering capital investments [analogous to eminent domain awards], participating in retrofitting, etc.)
3. Launch a thorough “what if” and “how” financial analysis of the billions being spent annually by individual Mainers and businesses now on fossil fuels in order to support the transition itself and/or the reallocated costs of the transformation. Unusual financial imagination and creativity here will be called for, but undertaking it will make the transition possible and a lot less scary.
4. These moral commitments to an environmentally sound future for Mainers worth living with must be undertaken in a non-partisan manner.
5. Throughout, policymakers must strive for incentives rather than penalties, a focus on goals and rationale rather than requirements.
6. Maine’s energy analysis and planning arm must monitor technical developments worldwide to be able to get on board immediately breakthroughs occur in efficiency of renewables, energy storage capacities, and so on.
7. Maine must address, by itself or working with other states, alternative ways of storing electrical or heat energies derived from renewables for times when they’re not being generated.
8. Support energy conservation everywhere:
a. energy audits
b. supporting retrofitting (not being able to afford it cannot be a reason for failing to participate)
c. new construction standards
d. heat pumps
9. (While ninth on this list, it will need addressing very early on in the effort.) Re-thinking Maine’s management of energy policy to achieve sufficient coherence, coordination, and innovation to accomplish the overall transformation:
a. Legislative Committee structure (ENR, EUT, ACF, SLG, APP etc.)
b. Executive branch structure (PUC, LURC, PA, GEO, etc.)
c. Creating a robust non-partisan continuing energy policy study mechanism to serve both executive and legislative needs
10. Revisit the privatization of energy generation and transmission. Does it still make sense given the change in circumstances? For example, it is now apparent that climate change has predictably increased the frequency and cost of un-predictable outages. Germany has led the way in restoring public ownership. That experience should be thoroughly explored.
11. Maintaining throughout framing the questions in terms of “how can” component aims be accomplished rather than “can” they be accomplished. Policy analysts have learned that how questions are framed can be critical to uncovering viable solutions.
12. Recognizing that the ecological challenge climate change constitutes (everything relates to everything else), must be approached in the same way (one way or another every item on this list relates to every other).
13. The public education requirements of developing public understanding of all elements of the commitment – issues, options, instrumentalities, interconnection, timetables, etc.
14. What will be entailed in getting off fossil fuels for automotive transportation and on, most probably, to electricity?
a. Full state charging station network
b. Development of home charge facilities
c. The transformation of the fleet over time; timetables for same
d. Incentives for same.
e. Rebuilding and expanding rail.
f. During the transition, accommodating tourists still using fossil fuels (e.g. “out-of-staters” gas stations, electric buses for tourist destinations, electric vehicle rentals for same)
g. Planning and initiating more extensive local and between town bus transportation
h. Accommodating opportunities for much more extensive bicycle use.
i. Shift highway trust fund support from per gallon excise taxes on fuel to some combination of annual mileage driven and weight of vehicle. (The heaviest vehicles [mostly large trucks] are responsible for any usage wear and tear. ‘Elapsed time since construction’ is a deterioration variable all vehicles participate in.)
15. The creation of a powerful coordinating mechanism to assure that all the pieces proceed as needed and the interconnections that must happen between and among the many elements are continuously monitored, cross impacted, and adjusted as necessary and kept on track. This should be undertaken by the same staff who are responsible for monitoring and learning from the work being undertaken by other jurisdictions world-wide.
16. Etc. etc. etc. All the above are illustrative; no doubt there are major ones left out, i.e., there are surely many, many more pieces. There must be a core group tasked with conceptualizing and ever-refining the elements and their service to the overall aim.
17. And etc.
The last time humanity experienced a world-engulfing cataclysm approaching the dimensions of the coming climate crisis, America responded at the close of World War II with the Marshall Plan. Those who remember that effort, or who learned about it in school and/or college, will have an inkling of what lies ahead. It will take everything we have to bring it off. It is the moral challenge of our time.
Look your grandchildren in the eye when you formulate your response. Touch your own heart and theirs when you give it.
Just Say, No to the Roxwind Project
Date: January 7, 2019
From: Hendrik D. Gideonse, 119 Old County Road, Brooklin, ME 04616 207-266-2663
Subject: Testimony prepared for January 7, 2019 Public Hearing on Roxwind Project on North Twin Mountain
This public hearing threatens yet another assault on the natural beauty of Maine and the sanctity of environmental integrity lying at the very heart of Maine’s overall economy. Of course windpower will be one part of the many renewable energy sources Maine must shift to, but not at the expense of our environment or the esthetics we would honor as we acknowledge that we are only part of a larger whole as compared to feeling impelled to exercise dominion over it. This is an opportunity too good to pass up to bring to a screeching halt the directionless and dangerous thrust of Maine energy policy over the past decade. We must start over. Here is a place to begin. With a new administration led by Governor Mills and a new Legislature led by Troy Jackson and Sara Gideon I believe we’re in position to do just that.
The message I bring, however, is not to say “Nay” but rather to shout a resounding “Yay” – to a path Maine must embark upon to protect itself, along with the rest of the world, from the threat of climate change now staring humanity in the face.
More high, out-of-natural- scale turbines in Maine’s mountains and north woods are not the answer. At the same time, responsible windpower must certainly be part of Maine’s revolutionary (no pun intended!) energy policy mix.
The misdirection we’ve been following in recent years has had many elements, for example:
- explicit denial of climate change;
- an orientation more to private corporate gain rather then primacy of service to the commons;
- a state energy policy structure which is as fragmented as it is ill-considered;
- a citizen legislature (in the main a good thing) which is insufficiently supported and carefully informed by comprehensive, high quality, sustained, and non-partisan policy analysis; and
- frankly, next to no state-level experience in enacting government policy on a scale and following such an unprecedented time frame in developing Maine’s public policy as this one must.
People in Maine energy policy know I’ve been trying to address the many dimensions of this issue. My perspective is that of someone with a background in policy, long-range planning, environmental protection, and a familiarity developed over the last ten years in public advocacy at the state level. It is the stance I project and urge upon you today in presenting this testimony.
Maine is fully complicit in the climate upheaval bearing down on humanity. In the aggregate every single year, collectively we spend somewhere between $4 and $6 billion on fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, and propane). Individuals, families, and businesses here invest annually more money in those fossil fuels than we spend on all of state government. We must shift virtually all our energy supply to renewables in a little more than a decade, ceasing the use of fossil fuels entirely for purposes of energy. Yes, windpower will be part of our mix, but not at the expense of of our own environment which, arguably, lies at the core of both our self-image as better angels and the heart of an economy keyed to tourists and human renewal.
Governor Mills has indicated she is committed to get on with this demanding task. Legislative leadership has committed itself to help. Take them at their word. Say “No” to this proposal; it is devoid of any relationship to the kind of comprehensive plan necessary to reach the larger energy goals we must pursue.
I have appended to this testimony an illustrative, necessarily incomplete yet interconnected rendering of subsidiary tasks that Maine must accomplish to contribute to the aim of saving its own environment along with that of the rest of the planet. It was prepared recently and delivered to all individual members of the 129th Legislature immediately after the electoral results were announced.
You have it within your power today to stop this misdirection right here, right now. Take the new state leadership up on their commitment to set out on a new course. Stop this particular proposal in its tracks. Take a page out of Nike’s book. Just do it!
cc: Governor Mills, Senator Jackson, Speaker Gideon, Senator Carson ENR, Representative Berry EUT, Representative Hickman ACF, Senator Diamond TR, Senator Breen AP
Withdraw This Nomination; Not Qualified nor Properly Disposed Toward the Environment
Date: January 25, 2019
To: JSC Environment and Natural Resources
From: Hendrik D. Gideonse, 119 Old County Road, Brooklin, ME 04616 email@example.com
Subject: Testimony on the nomination of Gerald Reid as Commissioner of Environmental Protection
In the gubernatorial campaign Governor Mills declared that her administration would “chart a new direction – one that will see Maine reclaim its place as a national leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy.” There is no more important public policy frame to guide Maine’s future.
This will be a huge, complex, demanding task. It more than rivals the 20th century world-wide undertaking — recognizing the dangers and then defeating the Axis threat to the nations of the world in the 1930’s and 40’s. Removing the threat of climate change, for this state and for the world, will dwarf that earlier effort. Few now living – you’d have to be eighty or better like me — have direct memories of how sweeping, all-encompassing, that accomplishment was, reaching into virtually every sector of all the world’s lives, to say nothing of the tens of millions of lives it ultimately took outright.
But mitigating climate change is not just huge. It is also without precedent; no legislative or executive authority has ever taken on such a challenge.
In recent years* I’ve had occasion to watch the legislature try to address environmental and energy policy issues where a background in science is crucial. For one thing, very few members have one. Further, adequate sustained non-partisan multidisciplinary analytic support is not available to you on such comprehensive issues. Committee responsibilities are divided arbitrarily relative to the larger picture. Indeed, might not addressing climate change head-on suggest the possibi-lity of a new role for ENR somehow exercising oversight of Maine’s developing responses to climate change even though the instruments for legislating on energy policy in the past have been in the domains of EUT, ACF, SLG, IDEAB and TR?
It is also the case that on the executive side of things, the current energy policy structure is a cumbersome tangle, staffed inadequately, and broadly decentralized. It, too, will require sustained attention in the governor’s new administration. A logical initial coordinating point for inaugurating the Governor’s major policy aim, therefore, might conceivably rest with the commissioner with overall responsibility for environmental protection.
Lastly, the climate change initiative, because it will touch every Mainer and virtually every sector of the economy, has to be understood as of fundamental political import, not because it is partisan (because it mustn’t be allowed to become so), but because it will touch every single one of us and because government must assure that across Maine’s population everyone is considered equitably.
With responsibilities like these, what kind of skill set should you be considering for the Environmental Protection post? And then, how good a fit is any particular nominee?
At the top of the list is a background in science. The climate change threat to the environment must rest on science and policies based on science. Because of the accidents of contemporary history and politics in the partisan sense, however, science itself, logic, even facts, have come under daily assault. The leader of DEP (and also, presumably, the Governor’s climate goal) must be deeply knowledgeable, therefore, about how science underpins his or her policy domain, both as processes and as pertinent outcomes. For eight years this state’s leadership effectively denied climate change was an issue, so this new administration’s battle starts out on an uphill climb.
Second, some facility at being able to work effectively with very diverse interest groups – economic, cultural, industrial, functional, professional and the like – would be equally desirable.
In addition to skills, two dispositions are important. The first would be demonstrating an ability to think “unto the seventh generation,” an orientation evidenced among the cultures already here when Europeans reached the shores of continents that came to be called the Americas. The second, closely related, is a sense of moral obligation to all Mainers as the necessary replacement of fossil fuels by renewables is achieved. The burdens of such a change should fall equitably across the population, present and future, those who have and who have not, assuredly those whose livelihoods, through no fault of their own, must be relinquished as humankind gives up fossil fuels. They are an equal part of the Maine commons, to be harmed no more or less than any others and held with equal magnanimity, throughout the quest of the many and complex changes required.
Framed in these ways the nomination advanced must be questioned.
Mr. Reid does not have a background in science. His career path has been within the law pursuing prosecutions and working within existing legal frames and structures rather than crafting wholly new ones. Further, his oppositional stance in suits involving Maine’s Native Americans’ traditional rights and the state’s obligation to support those rights have raised questions about his appreciation of the dispositions he himself must display and bring to the quest against climate change.
I would urge the withdrawal of the nomination in favor of one that pays deeper attention to the requisite skill and disposition sets.
* Cf for example: www.MaineLongRangeEnergyPlanning.com
cc. House and Senate Chairs of EUT, ACF, SLG, IDEAB, and TR and Governor Janet T. Mills