The Maine American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents over 160 local labor unions across the state, announced its support Tuesday for the state’s recently introduced Green New Deal legislation.
This is the first Green New Deal-branded proposal to be backed by a state AFL affiliate.
“We face twin crises of skyrocketing inequality and increasing climate instability. Climate change and inequality pose dire threats to working people, to all that we love about Maine and to our democracy. The work of moving towards a renewable economy must be rooted in workers’ rights and economic and social justice,” Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO, said in a statement, emphasizing the need for workers and unions to “have a seat at the table in crafting bold climate protection policies.”
This endorsement comes after members of the Energy Committee of the national arm of AFL-CIO expressed more hesitancy for the federal Green New Deal resolution proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), calling it “not achievable or realistic.”
Millennial state Rep. Chloe Maxmin (D), who was endorsed by the youth-led Sunrise Movement during the 2018 midterm elections, first introduced the “Act to Establish a Green New Deal for Maine” in March.
The legislation sets a date certain by which Maine would reach 80% renewable electricity (by 2040). The bill would also ensure provision of solar power to schools, set up a task force for job and economic growth, and guarantee a just transition in the shift towards a low-carbon economy.
“From the very first conversation that we had… labor was involved,” Maxmin said. For the past year, Maxmin has been speaking with constituents who voiced a “deep need for economic growth,” she said, noting that this bill is “very specific to Maine and rooted in rural and working communities.”
The goal, she said, was to “bring in voices that are traditionally not part of this conversation.”
In a statement to ThinkProgress, Sunrise executive director Varshini Prakash celebrated labor unions’ support for the state initiative, calling the broader idea of a Green New Deal “America’s biggest union job creation program in a century.”
Across the country, states and cities are seizing on the interest generated by the Green New Deal and introducing their own ambitious climate proposals. The federal version — currently a resolution, not a piece of legislation — calls for meeting 100% of the country’s power demand with renewable, emissions-free sources in around a decade, all while using the transition to create jobs and enshrine social justice principles, like equal access to education and universal health care.
Local level efforts vary in their focus and ambition. Often, initiatives are exclusive to the power sector; as of last month, at least 19 states are considering or have already set 100% clean or renewable electricity targets. But others are working to capture the full spirit of a Green New Deal — which means incorporating social justice tenets into the plan.
Last week, Minnesota introduced its own Green New Deal bill built on close collaboration between youth activists and state lawmakers. Officials and activists in New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, as well as the city of Los Angeles, have all used Green New Deal language to frame and market their clean energy and climate initiatives.
A key component of any Green New Deal is its timeframe. As the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last fall, without dramatic change to cut greenhouse gasses, global emissions are set to rise to a level that would usher in catastrophic consequences in just over a decade.
In Maine, global warming of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures means more flooding along the coasts and inland, as well as increased drought and extreme heat. Scientists have found that the Gulf of Maine is already warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans, disrupting fishery patters and, in turn, the fishing industry.
LD 1282, “An Act to Establish a Green New Deal for Maine,” reflects the urgent need for economic renewal in our rural state. It grows out of the concerns for good jobs, growing industries, lowering property taxes, renewable energy incentives, and protecting our environment, upon which so much of Maine’s industry and culture depends.
Our bill is fundamentally different from the one under discussion in Congress because it is targeted legislation, not a broad resolution. While the facts of climate science require a transition to renewable energy, the question for our state is: how do we ensure that this transition is fair and equitable for all while creating economic opportunity? These commitments must be the foundation of a Green New Deal for Maine.
The bill calls on Maine to move to 80% renewable energy electricity consumption by 2040, support solar power for schools to reduce costs, and create a Task Force for a Green New Deal that focuses on economic growth, job growth, and renewable energy growth. It establishes the Commission on a Just Transition to ensure that the shift to a low-carbon economy benefits all residents fairly and equitably. This bill was crafted with deep involvement from the labor community, and we’re building a movement for all Mainers.
As Congress considers “Green New Deal” resolutions sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, some state legislators are proposing their own Green New Deal concepts. Newly-released legislation under consideration by the Maine State Legislature would establish a “Green New Deal for Maine”. Here’s a look at the bill known as LD 1282, An Act To Establish a Green New Deal for Maine.
LD 1282 includes four main parts:
- Part A amends the law establishing Maine’s renewable portfolio standard, to require that by 2040, each competitive electricity provider must demonstrate that at least 80% of its portfolio of supply sources for retail electricity sales in Maine is accounted for by renewable resources. Part A also revises Maine’s statutory goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to include a long-term goal of reducing emissions to 75% to 80% below 2003 levels by 2040.
- Part B establishes an 11-member “Task Force for a Green New Deal” to create a plan to advance environmental sustainability, renewable energy and economic growth for Maine. The law would require the plan to include a strategy to achieve the increased renewable portfolio standard specified in Part A, plus a strategy for job creation, retention, and training, and a residential energy strategy, each meeting certain defined criteria.
- Part C requires the Public Utilities Commission and the Efficiency Maine Trust to propose legislation to establish a voluntary, virtual net metering program to facilitate the installation of solar photovoltaic energy systems on kindergarten to grade 12 public school buildings, with the program to begin no later than December 31, 2021.
- Part D creates a new 13-member “Commission on a Just Transition to a Low-carbon Economy” to ensure that Maine’s transition to a low-carbon economy “benefits all residents fairly and equitably, with consideration for their sources of employment, levels of income and historical experience.” The new Commission would be required to submit an annual report examining “principles of environmental justice, information about income inequality as it relates to environmental harm, professional training opportunities and investments and racial-specific and ethnic-specific effects of past, present and future trends in energy production and consumption”, as well as options for accelerating the transition to beneficial electrification in the rail and automotive sectors.
LD 1282’s prime sponsor is Representative Chloe Maxmin. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Shenna Bellows and Justin Chenette, and Representatives Seth Berry, Jeffrey Evangelos, Allison Hepler, Craig Hickman, and Henry Ingwersen. The bill has been referred to the legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. As of March 13, 2019, the committee had not yet scheduled a public hearing on the bill.
Other states are considering their own Green New Deals through executive and legislative action. In January 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his inclusion of a state-level “Green New Deal” in New York’s 2019 executive budget; the Connecticut General Assembly is considering H.B. 5002, An Act Concerning the Development of A Green New Deal; and the Rhode Island House considered a resolution (H.R. 5665) to study the benefits of a Green New Deal for Rhode Island. While the details vary from state to state, common themes in these initiatives include increasing renewable electricity requirements, reducing carbon emissions, and promoting jobs and social welfare.
An Act To Establish a Green New Deal for Maine
Sec. A-1. 35-A MRSA §3210, sub-§3-B is enacted to read:
Sec. A-2. 38 MRSA §576, sub-§3, as enacted by PL 2003, c. 237, §1, is amended to read:
Sec. B-1. Task force established. The Task Force for a Green New Deal, referred to in this Part as “the task force,” is established to create a plan to advance environmental sustainability, renewable energy and economic growth for the State.
Sec. B-2. Task force membership. The task force consists of 11 members as follows:
1. The Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management, or its successor agency, who serves as chair; and
2. Ten members appointed by the Governor as follows:
Sec. B-3. Meetings; compensation; staffing. The task force shall meet at times and places called by the chair. Members of the task force serve without compensation. The Governor’s Office of Policy and Management, or its successor agency, shall provide staffing services to the task force within existing resources.
Sec. B-4. Duties. The task force shall develop a plan to advance environmental sustainability, renewable energy and economic growth for the State. The plan must contain, but is not limited to, the following strategies and must include draft legislation necessary to implement each strategy:
1. A renewable resources strategy, including specific benchmarks and a pathway to achieve 80% reliance on renewable resources to supply electricity in this State by 2040, in accordance with the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 3210, subsection 3-B;
2. A high-quality job creation, retention and training strategy including:
3. A residential energy strategy, including subsidies for the installation of solar energy systems and heat pumps by low-income consumers eligible for the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program, and tax credits for the installation of solar energy systems and heat pumps by other residential consumers.
Sec. B-5. Report. No later than January 15, 2020, the task force shall submit a report documenting the plan developed under section 4, including any necessary implementing legislation, to the Governor, the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Sec. C-1. Public Utilities Commission and Efficiency Maine Trust to submit virtual net metering proposal for public school solar energy systems to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature. No later than January 1, 2020, the Public Utilities Commission and the Efficiency Maine Trust shall submit a report including draft legislation to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology to establish a virtual net metering program to facilitate the economical installation of solar photovoltaic energy systems on kindergarten to grade 12 public school buildings. The draft legislation must create a voluntary program available to interested public schools seeking to have a cost-effective source of solar electricity installed by professionals certified by the State. The program must allow participating schools to begin using virtual net metering for solar photovoltaic energy installations no later than December 31, 2021.
Sec. D-1. 5 MRSA §12004-I, sub-§74-J is enacted to read:
|Public Utilities||Commission on a Just Transition to a Low-carbon Economy||Expenses Only||35-A MRSA §123|
Sec. D-2. 35-A MRSA §123 is enacted to read:
§ 123. Transition to low-carbon economy
2. Commission membership. The commission consists of 13 members as follows:
A. Three members appointed by the President of the Senate:
(1) A person with direct experience as a member of a community or demographic group with limited access to renewable energy or energy efficiency due to the lack of economic means to pay for such installations or measures;
(2) A person with knowledge of issues surrounding reducing the carbon intensity of the transportation sector; and
(3) A person with direct experience as an advocate for climate justice issues in the State;
B. Three members appointed by the Speaker of the House:
(1) A person with direct knowledge of the effects of the carbon-based economy on the members of the federally recognized Indian tribes in the State;
(2) A person with at least 10 years’ experience as a worker in an industry affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy; and
(3) A person representing organized labor in the State;
C. Three members appointed by the Governor:
(1) A person with direct experience in the installation of residential renewable energy or efficiency measures;
(2) A person with direct experience managing state energy efficiency incentive programs for low-income persons; and
(3) An economist or person with experience in economic analysis at a college or university in the State who has expertise in studying the contribution of carbon-reducing initiatives to economic growth and job creation, or a closely related discipline;
This bill does the following.
Part A requires competitive electricity providers to demonstrate, by 2040, that their portfolios of supply sources for retail electricity sales in this State are 80% accounted for by renewable resources. It also amends the State’s goals for long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Part B creates the Task Force for a Green New Deal, which consists of 11 members including representatives of State Government, climate science, renewable energy, youth, labor and business. The task force is charged with creating a plan to advance environmental sustainability, renewable energy and economic growth for the State. The plan must include, but is not limited to, a renewable resources strategy to achieve 80% reliance on renewable resources for electricity supply by 2040; a job training strategy, including a training program to prepare workers for green jobs; and a residential energy strategy that provides incentives for installation of solar energy systems and heat pumps. The task force is required to submit a report on its plan by January 15, 2020 to the Governor, the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Part C requires the Public Utilities Commission and the Efficiency Maine Trust to submit a report by January 1, 2020 that includes draft legislation to establish a virtual net metering program to encourage installation of solar photovoltaic energy systems on public school buildings.
Part D creates the Commission on a Just Transition to a Low-carbon Economy. The commission includes 13 members. The purpose of the commission is to ensure that the State’s transition to a low-carbon economy benefits all residents fairly and equitably. The commission is required to submit an annual report to the Legislature.