Climate change is real. Its effects are tragic and impossible to deny.
The newly unveiled carbon pollution standards released by the president represent a major step forward for every American across the country feeling the impacts of climate change and breathing dirty air, but every state and community must play its part to combat this global threat.
Scientists are about as certain that climate change is real as they are that cigarettes kill. The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear once again that more than 97 percent of all climate scientists worldwide agree that climate change is happening, is serious and needs to be addressed now.
Building on the conclusions of the world's leading scientists, the National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive report on the effects of climate change on the United States, was released last month and outlined the current and future impacts of climate change on every region in the country such as heat waves, flooding, drought and more frequent extreme weather.
We've seen it here in Maine with the infestation of green crabs that have decimated our clam population.
Both of those reports add to the decades of mounting scientific evidence that make it clear the debate over the science is over. The staunch denial of climate change by elected officials is dangerous and not reflective of the true thinking of people across the country who not only recognize the reality of climate change, but support action to curb its impacts.
Yet Gov. LePage refuses to grasp the urgency of the problem, even stating publicly that climate change could be a good thing because it has the potential to open up shipping lanes.
The risk to our climate, our health and our economy is too great not to take immediate steps that will protect future generations. While many states and local communities have taken action on climate change, Maine continues to lag behind our neighboring New England states.
The new federal safeguards recently put forward by the president give states flexibility to implement plans that increase efficiency, improve resiliency and remove carbon pollution from our air, and there are things we can do here in Maine to make our state a leader in combating climate change and creating green jobs. I've outlined many of the steps we can take in my Maine Made business and investment plan.
First, and always, we have to start with conservation. The best way to reduce emissions, to save money on energy bills and to help clean up the environment is to reduce the amount of energy that we use. That's why I'm proposing an increased investment in efficiency and weatherization programs such as Efficiency Maine.
But we must also help families lower their heating bills and reduce emissions by making our homes and businesses more energy efficient. Technology is advancing at lightning speed. We need to take advantage of that to help people cut their energy bills and reduce energy use.
I was extremely disappointed with Gov. LePage's recent veto of a bipartisan bill that would have helped to grow the solar energy sector in Maine. Once again he put sound energy policy aside and failed to lead. The price of solar panels is dropping, the technology is improving and the evidence is convincing that Maine can have a bright future with regard to solar energy.
If I am elected, I will create the Maine Solar Power Initiative to increase the number of solar-equipped buildings, require energy ratings for all new home construction, create the Municipal Energy Leadership Initiative to reward proactive municipal energy policies. Such investments can spur the kind of innovation that will power America with clean energy in the 21st century, but as importantly create jobs here in Maine.
Across the country, businesses, elected officials, faith groups, public health advocates, industry, community advocacy groups, national security and labor groups have all demanded action on climate change. It's time for Maine to claim a leadership role in this important fight.
The stakes are too high to play politics with the health and safety of our communities and our children.