Groups Join, Seek Action on Global Warming
AUGUSTA, Maine − More than a dozen conservation and public health advocacy groups joined on Tuesday to throw their collective support behind further legislative action to prevent global warming.
The newly formed Maine Global Warming Action Coalition presented Gov. John Baldacci with petitions signed by more than 700 Mainers who support action to reduce greenhouse emissions from vehicles, power plants and other sources.
The Democratic governor said he hopes to "showcase Maine as a leader" in adopting policies aimed at reversing global warming.
Baldacci said such policies work to promote rather than stifle economic development by "creating a growth industry" while removing health hazards and avoiding environmental degradation.
Baldacci signed legislation enacted last year that sets specific goals and a timeline to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, making Maine one of the first states to do so.
The bill calls for reductions in carbon dioxide to 1990 levels by 2010, to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by as much as 80 percent over the long term.
Global warming is caused when carbon dioxide from oil and coal burning creates a greenhouse-like cover that traps heat around the Earth. That increases smog, which causes and exacerbates health problems, and causes a rise in sea level, which has environmental implications.
Maine's Department of Environmental Protection is working with the clean air and health advocates to make dozens of recommendations to meet the goals set forth in the 2003 legislation. The specifics of their legislation are expected to be unveiled later this month.
"The timing could not be more critical," said Mark Hays of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of the coalition members. He cited reports showing a rapid reduction in ice cover, average temperature rises and damage to Arctic ecosystems.
Fossil fuels that contribute to global warming also present health risks, especially to older people and those with lung problems, said Ed Miller of the American Lung Association of Maine. He said Maine has one of the highest asthma rates in the country.
"Unfortunately, the growing seriousness of this problem has not been reflected by action federally," said Miller. The northeastern states have instead had to initiate their own policies, he added.
Maine will be joining with other regional states, and other nations, as it takes further steps toward reducing greenhouse emissions, coalition members say.
Last week, Russia formally notified the United Nations of its acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, making it possible for the protocol to enter into force on Feb. 16, 2005.
The United States and Australia have rejected the pact, which could not have come into effect without Russia. The United States accounted for 36 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.
Source: Associated Press