The following message is from the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club:
A sweeping and problematic state energy bill is heading for a vote before the full legislature, possibly as soon as next week.
Sierra Club Maine believes that the bill — while containing some positive elements promoting energy efficiency — should be rejected because it would commit Maine to greater dependency on natural gas for decades to come.
Under the bill, Maine ratepayers would subsidize the expansion of private natural gas infrastructure in a risky attempt to entice other New England states to build out a larger regional natural gas pipeline system. Specifically, it would require Maine to purchase up to 20% of New England’s share of pipeline capacity (at a cost of no less than $200 million), even though we represent only 8% of its electricity load and far less than that of its natural gas demand.
Here are some talking points:
• Subsidizing natural gas keeps Maine addicted to fossil fuels and would result in more global warming and air pollution, and it delays the necessary transition to clean, renewable power like solar and wind.
• Subsidizing natural gas pipeline networks supports dirty gas “fracking” in New York, Pennsylvania, and other states.
• While relatively inexpensive now, natural gas is a volatile market and is likely to be much more expensive, leaving Maine ratepayers on the hook.
• No other state has spent ratepayer money in the natural gas market.
• The negative elements of the bill far outweigh the positive parts, such as funding for Efficiency Maine. The legislature should fully fund Maine residential and businesses energy efficiency programs in a separate bill.
On the other hand, the Natural Resources Council of Maine is supporting the bill as a better-than-nothing compromise.