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Governor Mills Announces That Maine Has Joined Bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance

February 28, 2019

Mills also announces proposal to create Maine Climate Council

During her remarks at the E2Tech 2019 Conference this morning, Governor Janet Mills announced that Maine has joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 21 states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. To help accomplish this goal and identify other steps that can be taken to combat climate change, Governor Mills also announced that her Administration will introduce legislation to create the Maine Climate Council.

“Today I am excited to announce that Maine is now the 22nd member-state of the United States Climate Alliance,” said Governor Mills. “While the federal government ignores its responsibility to combat climate change, Maine will work with states across the country to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Accord.”

“Climate change is already impacting Maine’s communities and the Northeast region through extreme precipitation and coastal flooding,” said Julie Cerqueira, executive director of the U.S. Climate Alliance. “Governor Mills understands the urgency of this issue, and by joining the U.S. Climate Alliance she is setting the stage for Maine to lead on climate action through priorities like investing in local renewable energy production and enhancing the state’s natural and working lands.”

The United States Climate Alliance works to take unified action to address climate change, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Alliance members have committed to working together to contribute to the global effort to reach benchmarks established by the international Paris Agreement.

To reach that goal and to help established other initiatives that will help combat climate change, Governor Mills also announced this morning that in the coming weeks her Administration will introduce legislation to create the Maine Climate Council.

“The Maine Climate Council will be responsible for developing an action plan and a timetable to meet our emission reduction goals and to ensure that Maine’s communities and economy are resilient to the effects of climate change,” said Governor Mills.

The Climate Council will consist of commissioners and key state leaders, science and technical experts, non-profit leaders, and representatives of climate-impacted industries. It will be established in statute, solicit public input, and will report regularly to the public on progress toward goals.

The Council will lead efforts to reduce Maine greenhouse gas emissions. And, with the Council’s leadership, Maine will achieve 80 percent renewable energy in our electricity sector by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

Governor Mills also emphasized that additional climate change initiatives will be announced in the coming months.

“My Administration will also soon make announcements for other initiatives to address climate change by improving Maine’s transportation sector and our energy and efficiency standards,” said Governor Mills. “We will mobilize state government to lead the way on energy conservation, weatherization and smart transportation measures.”

Governor Mills’ full remarks as prepared are included below:

Thank you. I have to say, I am proud to see so many entrepreneurs, innovators, educators, nonprofit and business leaders and fellow policy makers gathered together to discuss our state’s energy future.
It will take all of us working together to chart a new, better path forward for our state, but first we must address the challenges we face today -the chief among them being climate change.
A friend recently called my attention to a scientific paper entitled “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature.”
Not exactly light reading.
The British engineer who wrote the paper concluded that human activities were changing the earth’s weather and that, in fact, fossil fuels were to blame- a novel concept!
I bring it to your attention because that paper was published in 1938. No kidding!
G.S. Callender wrote back then – more than 80 years ago- that the impact of carbon dioxide on weather “is not only possible, but is actually occuring at the present time.”
The threat Callender warned us of is the same threat we face today- the threat to the very survival of the human species caused by climate change.
The threat of climate change, obviously, is not only local and not only national; it is global.
Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves what can we do to make a real difference right here in Maine.
What clean energy investments will we insist on?
What infrastructure will be required to electrify our transportation sector?
What are the resources and the unique advantages Maine may have that will yield environmental benefits in excess of the negative impacts of our own activities?
Clearly, the thinking and research and discussions held here today are critical for informing policy.
Some of you may have seen a report in the Washington Post late last year titled simply “We are in trouble.” In the report, scientists predict that global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached their highest levels on record.
This followed the report by the United Nations laying out a grim prognosis for the future of our planet, as well as the report from the Trump Administration (which they attempted to discredit) that forecasts serious trouble for New England.
We do not need another report to tell us what we already know: that our climate is changing; that it is changing rapidly; that it will have profound implications for us and for future generations; and that there is limited time to address it.
We know this because, here in Maine, we are witnessing these changes firsthand:
-The Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, driving our lobster populations further up the coast.
-Our coastal waters are growing more acidic, weakening the shells of lobsters, clams, scallops and oysters.
-Temperatures, along with our climate, are fluctuating more wildly, leading to natural disasters, increased tick populations and rising seas.
In the not too distant future, my grandchildren could reach my age and live in a Maine I would not recognize.
Will they know the singsong call of a black-capped chickadee or the smell of asters and lilies?
Will they know what the bark of a fir tree looks like or the grit of sand between their toes as they walk along the shores of Perkins Cove?
With butter on their lips and sun on their faces will they taste Maine in lobsters caught off Casco Bay?
If we do not address climate change, they may not remember any of those things. They may no longer know the state we all call home.
Black-capped chickadees are fleeing north. Five times more lobsters with diseased shells have been caught between 2010 and 2012. Ninety-two species of wildflowers - including asters and lilies - and 16 percent of our native trees - including fir - were already disappearing as of 2014.
Tick borne diseases are up nearly 700 percent from a decade ago and our beaches and seaside streets are already at risk of irreversible flooding.
You know, there are people who would still have us take no steps forward while climate change knocks louder, every day, on our front door.
Despite the banging which is impossible to ignore, they stick their fingers in their ears and plead for more time. “Climate change is not real, it is not happening here, it is not happening now” they chant while day by day, our environment slips away.
We do not have more time. The time for action is now. Wise, prudent, informed action...but action nonetheless.
In the past two months - with open doors and open minds- my Administration has welcomed innovative approaches and serious climate change prevention and mitigation efforts.
We are setting a renewable energy model for our state by preparing to install solar panels on the Blaine House grounds.
We have taken a strong stance against offshore drilling and the pillaging of our coasts and by lifting the moratorium on wind power, we are sending a clear signal to renewable energy investors nationwide- our state welcomes you once again.
Earlier this week I was proud to attend the National Governors Association Annual Winter meeting in Washington D.C. and honored to be named Chair of the NGA’s Natural Resources Committee.
No longer will Maine isolate ourselves from the rest of the country. I look forward to working with our neighbors in New England and states nationwide to develop solutions to the shared challenges we face.
As today’s theme suggests, - ‘a change is gonna come.’
I would argue change is already here - in more ways than one.
Today, I am excited to announce that Maine is now the 22nd member-state of the United States Climate Alliance.
While the federal government ignores its responsibility to combat climate change, Maine will work with states across the country to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Accord.
We will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by the year 2025 and by 80 percent by 2050.
That may seem ambitious.
After all, Maine is the most heating oil dependent state in the country, with nearly 70% of homeowners relying on oil for their heating needs.
We send five billion dollars out of state every year to pay for our use of nonrenewable fossil fuels.
Our high costs of energy and electricity are a barrier to our health and a deterrent to our economy, while our cars and trucks account for more than half of our carbon dioxide emissions.
Still, as author John Maxwell once said, “Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It is a dare...”
Do we dare to achieve the impossible?
To move us in this direction, I will introduce legislation to create the Maine Climate Council.
The Maine Climate Council will be responsible for developing an action plan and a timetable to meet our emission reduction goals and to ensure that Maine’s communities and economy are resilient to the effects of climate change.
The Climate Council will be comprised of commissioners and key state leaders, science and technical experts, non-profit leaders, and representatives of climate- impacted industries.
The Council will be established in statute. It will solicit public input and report regularly to the public on progress toward the following goals:
The Council will lead our efforts to reduce Maine greenhouse gas emissions. And, with the Council’s leadership, our state will achieve 80 percent renewable energy in our electricity sector by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.
I look forward to engaging with many of you as this legislation moves through the Legislature and the Council begins its critical work in the coming months.
My Administration will also soon make announcements for other initiatives to address climate change by improving Maine’s transportation sector and our energy and efficiency standards.
My administration will work with the legislature to promote solar and make this technology accessible for more Maine people. We will introduce legislation to implement our 100,000 heat pump challenge announced earlier this month. We will vigorously support the efforts of the University of Maine to lead the country in off-shore wind technology development. And we will mobilize state government to lead the way on energy conservation, weatherization and smart transportation measures.
While these are important changes, climate change is one of the greatest threats ever faced by humans in modern times. The threat will be met not by silver bullets of compulsion, but by actions taken promptly by all of humanity.
In that pursuit: let us dare to achieve the impossible, let us embrace and invest in our future, and let us do it in a thoughtful way that looks decades down the road - to the fir trees, asters, and chickadees that remain for our grandchildren, and their children.
That is how we truly lead.
I look forward to working with all of you in this room, including the many lawmakers, innovators, and advocates among you who have done this critical work for decades. In my Administration you will always find a committed partner who shares your passion for tackling climate change and building a brighter, greener future for our state.
Thank you.

10 Reasons to be Hopeful About Climate Change

Posted on July 11, 2017 in Monthly MeetingsDrew Jones, Climate Interactive, Citizens Climate Lobby guest speaker

Drew Jones, co-founder of Climate Interactive, joined CCL’s July 2017 call to share why he’s hopeful about our climate progress.

10 reasons to be hopeful about climate progress

By Flannery Winchester

Each month, Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosts an international call featuring a guest speaker to educate listeners on topics related to climate change and our Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

When it comes to climate change, what gives you hope? In the face of a big, scary challenge like this, what keeps your spirits and motivation high? It can be a tough question to answer, especially when Trump’s administration seems determined to pull America back from the urgent, bold action we need.

But Drew Jones, co-founder of Climate Interactive, knows exactly how to answer those questions. “I have evidence for hope,” he said when he joined CCL’s July call this weekend. He counted down the top 10 reasons he’s hopeful that we’ll meet our emissions reductions targets and preserve a livable world.

  1. Cities and states are responding

After President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, many cities and states stepped up to fill the leadership void. “I love the city and state response,” Jones said. “Over 200 of them are signing on, saying ‘We’re still in.’ This is really encouraging. We did some math, and we saw that over half of the U.S. population is living in a city or state that’s aligned with Paris goals.”

  1. Global emissions are flat

“We know we need to peak carbon dioxide emissions globally,” Jones said. That means even as economies grow and populations rise, we need to be reducing our greenhouse gases from this point onward. “Emissions have been climbing since 1980, but over the last three years, emissions have been flat. That could be a peaking of emissions that then will lead to emissions falling, which is exactly what we need in order to limit warming.”

  1. The Climate Solutions Caucus

This ever-growing caucus of Republicans and Democrats proves that there’s bipartisan support for climate solutions. “Your progress in this area gives me great hope that we’re going to see more and more of this kind of bipartisan, wise, prudent action to protect the security of the country and the world,” Jones said.

And we’re not alone—in fact, we’re just catching up when it comes to carbon pricing internationally. “I’m encouraged by the fact that there are 40 national and 24 subnational jurisdictions that have a price on carbon,” Jones said, as well as the recent push of the Climate Leadership Council, led by James Baker, George Schultz, Ted Halstead and others. “This just gives me great hope that we’re on track,” Jones said.   

  1. Renewables are taking off

Renewable energy is experiencing what Jones called a “reinforcing feedback loop.” The loop looks like this: “Price of wind and solar coming down, demand going up. That’s kicking off more research and development, production experience, economies of scale, public acceptance, that draws that cost down even more,” Jones said. “When Carbon Fee and Dividend shows up, it’s easier and easier to make sure we’re able to meet our energy needs” thanks to low-carbon sources and this reinforcing cycle.

  1. China’s production and consumption of coal

For a while, China’s coal usage was a big source of emissions. “We had huge growth in the early 2000s,” Jones said. But in recent years, Jones said, that has leveled off and then fallen. “There’s a lot more renewable energy. There’s a lot more gas that’s replacing coal. And of course in many cities, increasingly, there’s a carbon price that’s helping drive the transition of China away from coal.”

  1. The Paris Agreement

“Even if Trump is successful in pulling out of it, it provides a powerful framework for 194 countries to work together on this important issue,” Jones reminded us. The world saw that clearly when, at this weekend’s G20 summit, the rest of the countries in attendance reaffirmed their commitment to climate action.

  1. Multisolving

As it turns out, solving climate change actually helps address a whole host of other issues too. Jones called them “cobenefits.” He said, “The biggest ones, of course, are health. When we have a Carbon Fee and Dividend and internalize the cost of the coal and oil we’re burning, we then have better air quality, less respiratory disease, less asthma.” We can also enjoy more stability for our agriculture systems, better water quality, even better community connections. “Many other benefits help us really appreciate what a wise move it is to keep the coal, oil and gas in the ground, and to reap these benefits from multisolving.”

  1. Social change happens slowly, then all at once

“Social change looks impossible until it’s completed,” Jones said. He prompted us to think back in U.S. history about examples such as interracial marriage, women’s suffrage, even recreational marijuana legalization. A Bloomberg chart of those movements showed that, for years, it seemed as though nothing was happening, even when hundreds—thousands—of people worked to advance those causes. Then, suddenly, something shifted and the change happened. “It could be that we’re right on the cusp of huge support for the kinds of actions that we’re all advocating for, that will really surprise us,” he said. “This movement to support a Carbon Fee and Dividend could be imminent.”

Pace of social change, Bloomberg

  1. Campus divestment

With huge concentrations of young people whose futures are at stake, college campuses are ripe for climate action. That’s evident in the campus divestment movement. “Young people are questioning whether their campuses should be putting money into fossil fuels,” Jones said. Their advocacy will prompt further discussion and will help bring carbon pricing to the forefront as a viable option to address people’s climate concerns.

  1. Standing Rock

This powerful movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline is Jones’ number one reason to be hopeful. “We had vulnerable people, diverse Native American groups coming together, arm in arm with other groups, saying ‘We’re going to keep this fossil fuel in the ground.’” It sends a huge signal, Jones said. “I really respect what CCL is doing when it comes to reaching across the aisle,” and our coalition-building doesn’t have to stop there. Jones mentioned other efforts like immigration rights, Black Lives Matter and land rights. ”We can grow the support for something as wise and economically sound as a Carbon Fee and Dividend by reaching across traditional barriers.”

“This is imminently doable. I think you’re on the right track. It’s not going to be easy—it’s going to be worth it,” Jones said.

“Go get ‘em. We need you to win.”

Hear Jones’ full remarks, including why he says pricing carbon is the most powerful climate action we can take, on our July 2017 podcast. Follow his organization on Twitter at @climateinteract.

Pretty Good House Update 

Pretty Good House 2.0: The Low Carbon Edition

by Michael Maines

01/26/2019 - 12:56

Pictured above: Pretty Good House 2.0 discussion at Performance Building Supply

You may already know about the Pretty Good House concept, the result of a question that moderator Dan Kolbert asked back in 2011, partly as a joke, at the long-running building science discussion group at Performance Building Supply in Portland, Maine. Fed up with other building standards, from the wimpy and under-enforced building code to the nit-picky Passivhaus, Dan asked, essentially, what should you include in a house that does right for its inhabitants and the planet, but that does not go beyond reasonable environmental or financial payback.

We developed a list, which I shared in a blog post on, and since then the idea has taken on a life of its own. A lot has changed since 2011, and—unfortunately, perhaps—the time has come to revisit the Pretty Good House, also known as PGH.

Reducing embodied carbon in buildings—especially in Pretty Good Houses—was the topic at the last two building science discussion groups in Portland, then at one of the BS + Beer events I moderate in Liberty, Maine. (“BS” for Building Science, of course.) Right now is the worst time in the history of our species to dump a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, but that’s exactly the result of many construction practices. Even builders concerned with energy efficiency often front-load enormous amounts of carbon-intensive materials with the expectation of saving over the life of the building. But if we only have one or two decades to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, what should we do instead? The following ideas are a summary of our discussions.

Like everything PGH, the 2.0/Low Carbon Edition is meant for thought, discussion and action, not for check boxes, awards or membership dues. As always, however, if you feel that you deserve a plaque, feel free to buy yourself one.

In no particular order, a PGH 2.0/Low Carbon Home should:

  • Be as small as possible. Ideally with multi-family or multi-generational occupants.
  • Be PV-ready or include photovoltaic panels. PV-ready means designed, built and sited in such a way that a reasonably-sized photovoltaic array can handle all of the home’s energy needs on an annual basis. (PV panels pay their carbon debt in 2-4 years.)
  • Be simple and durable. Simple shapes are easier to air-seal and insulate, perform better in harsh weather, and require fewer materials and less maintenance than more complicated buildings. If you need to bring in a structural engineer, your design might be too complicated. Invest in the parts that are hard to change later.
  • Use wood and wood-derived products as construction materials. Just make sure the wood is sustainably harvested, locally if possible. Otherwise the trees are better left to remove CO2 through photosynthesis. The more materials are processed, in general, the higher their carbon footprint.
  • Use air-source heat pumps. Mini-splits can be efficient to -15°F or below, affordable (especially for the sizes needed in a PGH) and relatively simple to install. For those who can’t stand the look of an appliance on the wall, there are slim-duct, ceiling cassette, and floor-mounted versions. But the wall-mounted units are the most efficient, so learn to love them. Heat-pump water heaters are a no-brainer for most homes.
  • Invest in the envelope. Insulation and air-sealing should be good enough that heating and cooling systems can be minimal, with indoor air quality and comfort levels that are very high.
  • Be affordable, healthy, responsible and resilient.
  • KISS: Keep It Simple + Safe, easy to operate and understand. Use owner-proof systems to get around operator influence.
  • Consider traditional, non-flashy approaches: deciduous trees shading south and west walls; cooling via fans and natural convection instead of air conditioners; use biomass secondary water heating (i.e., let your wood stove heat your water); air-dry your clothes.
  • Be part of a sustainable community: have access to community solar, jobs and services nearby that minimize driving, and shared infrastructure costs, to name a few advantages. A one-hit wonder in the middle of the woods often comes with a bigger carbon footprint than a community-based home.

A PGH 2.0/Low Carbon Home should minimize or avoid:

  • Concrete, which contributes 10% of man-made global warming emissions, partly through fuel to heat and move minerals, but 60% from release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from limestone (CaCO3) to get calcium oxide (CaO) for Portland cement. One concrete-reducing technology that is gaining ground is helical metal piers, which are screwed into the soil to support decks, houses and more. Some engineers and builders have doubts, but with many thousands of installations, they have a proven track record.
  • Foam, especially HFC (hydrofluorocarbon)-blown closed cell spray foam and XPS (extruded polystyrene) rigid insulation. When building a new house there should be no need to use foam above grade.
  • Combustion appliances, especially those that burn fossil fuels. You can have a wood stove in a PGH but make sure it’s EPA-certified and include dedicated makeup air.
  • Unhealthy materials.

Some bigger ideas to consider:

  • Straw bale construction. Dismissed by many as low-tech, low-R and prone to moisture damage, experienced straw bale builders have developed effective ways to use this carbon-sequestering approach to building.
  • Phenolic rigid foam. Zero greenhouse-gas emissions, extremely high R-value—what’s not to love? The fact that it’s impossible to get.
  • Mycelium insulation. (Cue “fungus among us” jokes.) But seriously—it sequesters carbon and traps air, so why not use it to insulate homes?
  • “Smart” materials. Variable-permeance membranes have made many of us more confident about simple but theoretically-risky assemblies like double stud walls and building without foam. Glazing has come a long way in the last 10-20 years, but we could benefit from more glazing and other materials that respond passively to changes in conditions.
  • Offsite fabrication. There is a lot of carbon burned getting workers and materials to job sites, and a lot of efficiency and quality control possible in a factory setting.

Prescriptive Guidelines

The original PGH had simple rules for insulation and airtightness, borrowed from Dr. Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corp. as his recommendations for efficient homes in a cold climate. For PGH 2.0, we need to update it a bit to account for easy access to better windows and a better understanding of embodied carbon.

In a cold climate, DOE climate zone 5 or 6, use:

  • R-5 to R-8 windows (U-0.20 to U-0.13); the higher the glazing-to-wall-area ratio, the more important the windows’ U-value. Even the best windows make lousy walls, so don’t over-glaze.
  • R-10 sub-slab insulation (EPS/Expanded polystyrene, mineral wool or recycled XPS).
  • R-20 foundation wall, frost wall or slab perimeter insulation (or build on piers).
  • R-40 walls.
  • R-60 roof.
  • The wall and roof values should be lower if you’re using foam, due to its long carbon payback, but in a PGH 2.0 there is no reason to use foam above grade.
  • Airtightness: 1.0 ACH50 (air changes per hour at ±50 Pascals pressure) is the maximum air leakage target many of us are using, but others say 1.5 or 2.0 ACH50 is tight enough. Definitely stay well below code-minimum 3.0 ACH50. Going tighter than 1.0 ACH50 gets you cool-kid points but may not add significantly to your home’s performance.

Performance-Based Approach (Optional)

  • Use energy modeling to optimize designs, especially for fine-tuning window performance values. (BeOpt is a good, simple, free program for this.)
  • Should there be a standard PGH energy-use target, such as xx% better than code-minimum, xx% of Passive House levels, xx Btu/ft² or xx Btu/occupant?

Additional thoughts:

  • Our generation is the only one who can fix the climate change problem. We can’t opt out; this is our only chance.
  • Aim for the biggest targets, don’t get lost in the weeds.
  • If you’re a designer or builder, sell the comfort aspect of a PGH; many clients do not understand or want to hear about technical details or climate change.
  • We need a carrot and stick approach: improve building codes and enforce them.
  • We need affordable and effective PGH 2.0 retrofits.
  • Read the Project Drawdown website or book for 100 more ways to reach carbon-neutral emissions.
  • Read Bruce King’s The New Carbon Architecture to learn more about reducing embodied carbon in buildings.

What would you include (or avoid) in a Pretty Good House 2.0/Low Carbon Home?