I support the president's initiative to raise average automotive fuel economy standards to above 50 mpg over the next several years, and generally applaud all local initiatives to source our energy closer to home, with new investments in tidal, solar, biomass and some wind power. These are next-generation innovations America should lead, creating high-tech, good-paying jobs in the process.
I remain open-minded to nuclear energy; however, the industry needs to find a place for its spent radioactive waste before it can be allowed to expand. There are already serious nuclear risks in Maine, with above-ground waste storage left over from Maine Yankee; the federal government needs to work with industry to solve this intractable problem. Home energy efficiency programs, such as those spurred by state and federal grants and tax credits, have been very effective at reducing overall demand, saving consumers money and cutting our carbon footprint.
I have been steadfast in my opposition to plans to bring the Keystone XL pipeline to Maine, because it is an unreasonable risk to our environment, with the fuel bound for export markets abroad. I support alternative transit proposals such as expanding passenger and freight rail service throughout the state. I voted against spending $300,000 in public funds to study building a private, for-profit tollway through the heart of the Maine woods.
I am the only candidate in the race who backs the study of a public park for the north woods. In August 2011, I founded the Friends of the Maine Woods, a statewide organization that advocates for such a study, to leverage employment from Maine's first-class reputation in tourism while preserving the Maine experience and a small piece of the largest intact forest east of the Mississippi River.
Support for research-and-development bonds is crucial if we are to develop Maine-centric answers to our energy problems, from biocoal to tidal power.