PORTLAND, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has joined five other New England governors and five premiers of Eastern Canadian provinces in setting a new regional goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The agreement came out of an annual conference of the regional leaders, adding to a list of carbon reduction targets already set for 2010, 2020 and 2050. The resolution signed Aug. 31 sets out a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 35 percent to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, stating that the regional group “has held a leading role on climate change at the regional level.”

Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said that the regionwide goal does not specify responsibility for reductions by state or province, but it sets “a fairly ambitious target” for the region as a whole.

“We’ve got a lot of natural gas [generation] in the region now, and we’ve also got a lot of natural resources with hydroelectricity and wind, and we have the policies in place,” Woodcock said. “It does seem that if we redouble our efforts, there is an opportunity to not only be the cleanest but also be a very competitively priced region.”

Woodcock said researchers’ estimates show Maine has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by about 23 percent since 1990. He noted that construction of transmission projects to add more hydroelectricity to New England’s grid could help the region meet renewables goals.

Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have a joint request for proposals for new renewable power capacity that they would consider directing utilities in their state to purchase, which could provide ancillary benefits for Maine, according to Woodcock.

The latest agreement on emissions sets an additional goal “to help orient mid-term climate policymaking efforts,” the resolution states, setting a path for meeting the 2050 goal of reducing emissions by 75 percent to 85 percent below 2001 levels.

The resolution was signed during the annual conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Woodcock said LePage spoke during the meeting, advocating for the region to work both on clean power generation but also cost-competitive electricity.

The leaders also signed a resolution urging their respective federal governments to continue supporting rail infrastructure maintaining service between New York and Montreal and restoring the Vermonter line from Montreal to Washington, D.C.

The regional leaders signed a third resolution to further mutual aid agreements in times of disasters and regional or national emergencies.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.