June 11, 2013

House, Senate prod restart of Maine climate-change study

Senate joins House in initial approval of resuming work on a state plan to adapt to such changes.

STAFF REPORTS

AUGUSTA — The Legislature has given initial approval to a bill to resume a climate-change study that has languished during the administration of Gov. Paul LePage.

L.D. 825, sponsored by Rep. William Noon, D-Sanford, would resume the study of long-term effects of climate change, requiring a report to be submitted to the Legislature by February 2015.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday without a roll-call vote. The House passed it largely along party lines Monday, 83–55. All House Republicans opposed it, joined by two Democrats, Stanley Short of Pittsfield and Lisa Villa of Harrison.

In 2009, the Democratic-controlled Legislature, under Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, passed a law directing the Department of Environmental Protection to create a climate-change report. The report was completed and published in 2010, containing 60 recommendations for the state relating to climate-change effects.

The first recommendation was to draft a detailed climate adaptation plan. A second bill, passed in 2010, directed the DEP to create that plan by January 2012. But the LePage administration didn't submit the report, and the Republican-led Legislature didn't fight him on it.

The administration has said the study represents a waste of limited resources and has asked the Legislature to relieve the DEP of responsibility for any future climate adaptation plan. Many states have fought political battles over similar studies.

Supporters of the bill, led by environmental groups including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Conservation Law Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, have criticized the LePage administration for halting the study.

L.D. 825 faces final votes in the House and Senate.

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