CONTRIBUTOR

Maine should reject costly energy mandate

Posted April 10, 2011, at 8:41 p.m.
Last modified April 11, 2011, at 5:23 a.m.

Kevin Miller’s March 1 article, “Environmentalists unveil ’50 worst bills’ in Maine,” is a call to action for all of us to pay attention to the policies advocated by our elected representatives and the activist environmental groups who now are pressuring them to back away from job-saving legislation. On behalf of Maine’s hardworking families, I’d like to encourage our leaders to consider the Low Carbon Fuel Standard as another burdensome regulation that would affect the pocketbooks of Maine’s families.

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to restrict some types of fuel over others. The Northeastern States for Coordinated  Air Use Management group is putting a proposal together right now that calls for 13 states, including Maine, to adopt the LCFS.

What is a LCFS? The bottom line for Maine families is that the LCFS makes us more dependent on unstable and unfriendly countries in the Middle East for our fuel while hitting our pocketbooks to the tune of up to $2,400 a year in increased fuel costs.

But the Low Carbon Fuel Standard is not the only threat families in the Pine Tree State face in the midst of the great recession. While our leaders grapple with whether they implement the LCFS tax, needy families across Maine received word from Washington that LIHEAP funding will be cut in the proposed Obama budget.

In 2009, Maine received $76 million in LIHEAP assistance. When you combine the out-of pocket cost of an LCFS to families with the recent proposal from President Barack Obama to cut LIHEAP assistance by $2.5 billion or 50 percent, Maine families will be caught between the pincers of higher fuel costs and lower home heating assistance in the hard winter months.

This affects families, struggling to get by on less, cities and towns struggling to meet budget restraints and a state struggling to improve one of the worst business climates in the nation.  The Legislature has made a commitment to analyze Maine’s overburdensome regulatory climate in an effort to attract new business, and help existing business to expand. Adopting these regulations is bad for business, bad for working families and bad for cities and towns trying to stay afloat with mounting budget deficits.

I hope that  Maine will stay away from the expensive proposal. If leaders in Maine are serious about helping families through the great recession and the cuts to LIHEAP, they will oppose the LCFS.

Cary Weston is a small-business owner and member of the Bangor City Council.

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