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Seth's LD 1824 protected our health and wood heat -- winning him Maine Lung's 2007 Healthy Air Award

Survival of the Fittest... Locally and Globally

Clean energy is now a matter of survival -- and here, Maine has a competitive edge.  By jumpstarting renewables and cutting back on waste, we can position ourselves as exporters of clean, responsible energy.

I am proud to have sponsored legislation in 2009 that helped to reshape Maine's approach to efficiency and renewables.  Working with Speaker Hannah Pingree and Majority Leader Phil Bartlett, for instance, I was able to help create the new Efficiency Maine Trust, which brings together Maine's renewable energy rebate, efficiency, and conservation programs.  Among other provisions, this law establishes the twenty-year goal of weatherizing all residences and 50 percent of businesses, and reducing Maine's consumption of fossil fuels by at least 30 percent.

In addition in 2009, I sponsored first-in-the-nation legislation to address the fastest-growing source of toxic mercury in our environment, by making manufacturers responsible for financing a simple recycling system for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).  I also sponsored legislation to create what MOFGA considers the most comprehensive pesticide notification system in the U.S., to ensure that neighbors know when toxic pesticides will be sprayed near their homes, yards, and playgrounds.

Maine´s competitive advantages are its people, and its environment.  We must protect our people´s health and safety, as well as the extraordinary natural resources we enjoy and count on for life and livelihood.

One great resource for holding state policymakers accountable is the Maine League of Conservation Voters.  Another is the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Seth (left) questions members of Parliament on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade in the U.K.

Energy solutions to save you thousands

Carpools, weatherization, and renewable savings available now

  • GoMaine can save the average Maine commuter thousands per year.  A statewide carpool-find system, as well as expanding public transit options, are available at www.gomaine.org.
  • Amtrak's Downeaster will expand service to Brunswick by 2012.  Track work is already underway.  From Brunswick, connections to Rockland and eventually to Augusta, Bangor and Lewiston are also possible.
  • Weatherization help is available to most Mainers for home insulation, window replacement, and other measures that can save you thousands more than the cost of the loan paymentsFor more information on this and other programs, visit www.mainehousing.org or call 1-800-452-4668.

  • Efficiency Maine can help you cut your home or business energy bills and consumption by 1/3 or more, finance a small solar or wind array, AND get major rebates and deep discounts for doing so.  For more details, visit www.efficiencymaine.com.


Questions:  email Seth at seth@sethberry.org

Wind turbines are an important piece of the energy puzzle we must soon solve.

Click here to view the recommendations of the Governor's Wind Power Task Force. The final report sets goals of 2,000 MW of wind power in Maine by 2015 and 3,000 MW by 2020.

Forest Biofuel
Not all biofuels are created equal.  In their creation and tranportation, we now understand that many biofuels may create as many problems as they solve.  Enter UMaine's research team:  and a new, cutting-edge investigation into the potential to create sustainable, green biofuel using Maine's forest waste left over from the pulp and paper harvest.
Using a new, $10.35 million federal and state grant, UMaine may well be leading us toward the future envisioned in a report by the Governorīs Office of Energy Independence and Security.  This report came out of a bill introduced in 2007 by Rep. Hannah Pingree, which Seth helped revise to win unanimous committee approval.  The report, authored by UVM student Rebecca Rockefeller, shows a clear path forward for Maine in the promising but tricky area of biofuel. 

Download liquid biofuels policy paper

Source: Wikipedia, 2008

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
In Seth's first year on the Utilities and Energy Committee -- and thanks to the joint efforts of many -- Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Based on Europe's successful carbon cap-and-trade system, RGGI will limit the carbon emissions of power plants producing over 25 megawatts.  Emissions will level off from 2009 to 2014, and then decline to 10% below 2009 levels by 2018.
This collaborative effort of ten northeastern states will cut our greenhouse gas emissions, while also creating a new market in carbon offsets, a new source of jobs, and new funding for efficiency measures to decrease energy costs.  Because some companies may require carbon offsets as part of their energy portfolio, an impetus is also likely for sustainable forestry.
For details, see www.rggi.org.

The cost of efficiency is less than 40% the cost of energy. Data from Env-NE.

Efficiency Maine is a statewide effort to promote the more efficient use of energy, help Maine residents and businesses reduce energy costs, and improve Maine's environment.  While it was once restricted to the pursuit of electrical savings, it now gives Maine residents and businesses a one-stop shop to save money and strengthen our economy.
I am proud to have helped strengthen Efficiency Maine in 2009, as the sponsor of one of the bills which were eventually merged to move Maine forward and to fund and guide these efforts.

As the graph above demonstrates, energy prices are about three times higher than the cost of efficiency measures such as insulation, efficient lighting, etc.  For this reason, it is generally cheapest and most effective to begin with conservation measures before adding renewable energy production.  As Amory Lovins might say, a newly installed "negawatt" (unused megawatt) is both cheaper and cleaner than a newly installed megawatt.
Go to www.efficiencymaine.com for details on programs and how you can help make a difference while saving money!

Source: UMaine Today, Feb. 2007

Seth's LD 1824 protected our health AND wood heat by ensuring that future wood boilers will be more efficient and less polluting -- winning him Maine Lung Association's 2007 Healthy Air Award.  Click on photo above for national radio story on this legislation (NPR Living on Earth segment).

Mars Hill wind facility, February 2008 (Nancy Smith photo)

Seth is one of several legislators who worked to pass strong new wind incentives, including a statutory goal of 3,000 megawatts of new wind in Maine by 2020.  This number represents three times the capacity of ME Yankee.  Even with this increase, and related increases in tidal, cogeneration, and other renewables, conservation and reduced consumption will also remain critical to improving our energy security and independence.