AUGUSTA – A measure to help achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction levels in decisions made by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and prioritize equity and environmental justice among state agencies, LD 1682, sponsored by Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, was signed into law last week by Gov. Janet Mills.
The measure emerged from the Maine Climate Council’s proposed climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait: A Four-year Plan for Climate Action, which highlights the need for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the levels set forth in Title 38, section 576-A and emphasizes equity in addressing climate change in the state.
LD 1682 requires that the PUC consider climate impacts, along with system reliability and resource adequacy, in decision-making while regulating Maine’s utilities. It further directs the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and other state offices to hold a public stakeholder process to define key environmental justice and equity terms and determine how those terms apply to state agency decision-making processes. The goals of the measure are twofold: achieve the greenhouse gas emissions levels as set forth in statute and help state agencies better address and mitigate disproportionate energy and climate burdens on communities that are underserved by policies, programs and systems due to geography, race and income.
“This law puts the ‘action’ in our state’s climate action plan,” said Doudera, “I am grateful to both the PUC and the governor for realizing how important LD 1682 is to achieve our goals. It’s also the first step in prioritizing equity as a core principle across state agencies. By first focusing on the fundamental underpinnings of environmental justice work, we can better achieve the equity goals in Maine’s climate action plan and more justly address climate change.”
By February 2022, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future will submit a report to the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology to inform future legislation.
Doudera serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and represents House District 94, which includes Camden, Islesboro and Rockport.