Maine is taking care to ensure that the state is a leader in the nationwide transition to electric vehicles. Governor Janet Mills recently announced the signing of an executive order that requires the state to deliver a “clean transportation roadmap” for increasing the number of electric vehicles in the state within the next decade. The order comes after the state’s “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan estimated that there will need to be at least 219,000 electric vehicles in use to achieve the state’s 2030 emission targets. The roadmap, due by December 30th of this year, will be a collaborative effort between two state agencies, the Energy Office and the Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.
Hannah Pingree, director of the Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, is excited to take part in the assignment. Pingree, who is also co-chair of the Maine Climate Council, sees the roadmap as “a key opportunity to address climate change” within the state. The introduction of electric vehicles will prove to be a significant step in reducing Maine’s emissions total. Of the state’s transportation-related emissions, 59 percent come from passenger cars and light-duty trucks, and another 27 percent come from medium or heavy-duty trucks, for a total of 86 percent. Bringing over 200,000 electric vehicles into the mix should result in a sizable emissions reduction, which is essential if Maine wants to achieve its goal of curbing its emissions by 45 percent before 2030. Considering the fact that electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of all registered vehicles statewide, a surge of more than 200,000 will drastically shift that ratio.
The “Maine Won’t Wait” report, penned by the same Office of Policy Innovation and the Future as well as the Energy Office, followed a larger “Lead By Example” report that provided a broader scope of sustainability goals for Maine in the coming years. In a statement, Gov. Mills argued that, given the reality of climate change and the initiatives already being taken by individual state residents, it is “time that state government, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, does the same.” Some of the loftiest goals include a call for all state operations to run on exclusively renewable energy sources, and to use state property as a source via solar panels, wind farms, and other related methods of clean energy generation. As for state facilities, the report calls for those beginning construction to use cross-laminated timber and other environmentally-friendly materials to reduce the footprint. Additionally, the report would like for the state to overhaul heating and cooling systems as well as lighting, and improvements to weatherization in state offices and facilities.
These recent emissions goals come as part of a prevailing eco-friendly campaign from the Mills administration as the state looks to take charge in addressing climate change. At the end of last year, the state announced the development of the nation’s first offshore wind research array. This project would be specifically confined to federal waters in the Gulf of Maine and will provide valuable data that could eventually be used to inform the development of future offshore wind turbines, an industry that should see an estimated $70 billion in investment by 2030 nationwide. State officials will work closely with representatives from the fishing industry as well as scientists to determine a plan of action that allows for the creation of offshore turbines without disrupting the ecosystem underneath the water’s surface. To ensure that the biodiversity in the gulf is safely maintained, the state has introduced a bill placing a 10-year moratorium on offshore development within state waters. If passed, the moratorium would keep “the right balance” between securing the economic well-being of the fishing industry while preserving coastal wildlife, says state senator Mark Lawrence.