An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council

In June 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law "An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council." The act states that the impacts of climate change have created an "emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine" and find that the law is "immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety." To address the state's climate emergency, the act includes multiple provisions related to climate adaptation and resilience. Specifically, the act created the Maine Climate Council to advise the state's governor and legislature on ways to mitigate, prepare for, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. A Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and sector focused Working Groups will be established under the Council to carry out climate adaptation and mitigation research, and update Maine’s Climate Action Plan. The Council must meet at least every three months, beginning no later than October 1, 2019, and present the governor with an updated Climate Action Plan by December 1, 2020. 

The Maine Climate Council will be composed of 39 members across different disciplines and sectors from the governor's office and state agencies, in addition to other representatives of interests affected by or with expertise in climate change issues, such as municipal governments, organized labor, environmental nonprofits, and Maine's youth. Among other responsibilities, the statute provides that the Council, Subcommittee, and Working Groups collectively will:

  • Update Maine’s Climate Action Plan every four years beginning December 1, 2020 with mitigation and adaptation strategies, and recommendations for implementation. The Council will address prescient information on climate impacts to Maine's sectors, ecosystems, and communities most at risk, and recommend ongoing strategies and actions for climate adaptation and resilience.
  • Develop recommendations for legislation, including ways to better enable state agencies to implement the long-term goals of the updated Climate Action Plan.
  • Assess the impacts that climate change may have on the state's economy, revenues, and investments.
  • Assess the need for utilities and other public and private service providers to adjust their operations and investment strategies to increase climate resiliency.
  • Assess climate impacts on Maine’s agriculture, fishing, forestry, and other natural resource-based industries — and how those industries might best adapt.
  • Recommend strategies to "address and prepare for coastal and coastal watershed hazards, including, but not limited to, ocean and coastal acidification, increased storm surges, extreme precipitation and other extreme weather events, projected sea level rise and increased river flooding and stormwater runoff and the risks such hazards pose to municipalities, the coastal economy and state assets.”
  • Assist local governments and other constituents in supporting regional and community-scale climate vulnerability assessments and the integration of specific strategies into local plans and ordinances.

The Council must ensure that the mitigation and adaptation strategies developed consider how low-income residents and members of vulnerable communities will be affected by climate change and by the planned transition to a clean energy economy. Programs and incentives to address climate change effects must be designed to be accessible to all of Maine’s residents —regardless of income level, age, race, or geographic location.

 

The Council will update the state’s Climate Action Plan to provide strategies that will:

  • Minimize deleterious effects, including those on persons of low- and moderate-income, to public health and the environment and on economic sectors that face the greatest barriers to emissions reductions and creating, when feasible, additional employment and economic growth in the state, especially in rural and economically distressed regions of the state; and
  • Ensure equity for all sectors and regions of the state and that the broadest group of residents benefit from the achievement of the greenhouse gas emission reductions . . . with consideration of economic, quality-of-life, and public health benefits.


The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee will study and report its findings and recommendations on climate change effects to Maine's marine, coastal, and terrestrial and freshwater environments and species. The Subcommittee will determine these projected impacts, identify gaps in climate impact data, and recommend strategies for implementation and monitoring plans. The Subcommittee is directed to establish science-based sea-level rise projections for the state's coastal areas by December 1, 2020, and update those projections at least every four years. The Subcommittee will also create hazard maps that identify the areas most vulnerable to storm surges, ocean and river flooding, and extreme weather events (and make these maps publicly available).

The act also requires that the departments, in consultation with the Maine Climate Council, evaluate the state's progress to implement the Climate Action Plan and submit a report to the legislature every two years beginning December 1, 2022. As a result of these reports, the departments, Council, and legislature may propose new metrics to assess the state's progress to implement climate adaptation strategies and programs, and make policy recommendations to the legislature. 

 

 

Publication Date: June 26, 2019

Related Organizations:

  • State of Maine

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  • Legislation

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