AUGUSTA, Maine — More than 500 Maine businesses have signed on to a letter urging U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to support passage of a comprehensive climate change bill in Congress.
The signers run the gamut from restaurants, beauty salons and other small businesses to such large corporations as Verso Paper, Oakhurst Dairy and Hannaford Bros.
The letter urges Maine’s two senators to “do all you can to ensure that the United States acts swiftly and effectively in 2010 to address the threat of global warming.” Clear federal policies can also help Maine’s clean-energy economy continue to grow, they wrote.
The letter is general in nature, however, and does not advocate for or endorse specific legislative proposals. For instance, there is no mention of the controversial “cap and trade” bill passed by the House last summer to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Maine could considerably benefit as a result of well-designed climate legislation which focuses on major investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy development, resulting in jobs and reduced dependence on fossil fuels,” reads the letter, which was delivered to the offices of Collins and Snowe on Tuesday. “Such initiatives are important for Maine’s economy at a time of growing concern about energy costs.”
Several of the business owners who signed the letter also spoke at a press conference in Augusta. They included Milton McBreairty of Larkin Enterprises in Lincoln, George Haselton of Harvest Energy and Rockport Mechanical and Kate Burgess Rush of Elovo Home Center in Newport.
In a response letter, Snowe said there was no question the U.S. must “retool our energy policy,” reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create incentives to develop renewable energy technology. Snowe has expressed support for a cap-and-trade approach if it does not harm the economy and was developed with the help of busi-nesses.
“Finally, any legislation must fully and carefully frame an approach that also maintains America’s economic well-being as a top priority, especially given the current levels of unemployment and economic uncertainty,” Snowe wrote.
Collins recently joined with several other senators to offer an alternative to the cap-and-trade approach that promotes energy conservation and investment in clean energy technology.