"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE
CONTACT: Crystal Canney, 287-2531
Dan Cashman, 287-2531
June 30, 2006 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA Governor Baldacci today expressed deep concerns with federal legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. The bill, H.R. 4761, lifts the moratorium on offshore drilling. The Governor, expressing his concern about the bill as it moves through the legislative process, continues to communicate to the Maine Congressional Delegation about the harmful impact of offshore drilling on the State of Maine.
"Maine's natural resources are valuable assets to the state's economy and to thousands of families who make their livelihood from fishing and lobstering," said Governor Baldacci. "The legislation that has passed in the United States House of Representatives yesterday is another example of the flawed energy policy coming from Washington, D.C. This bill in its current form would have a significant negative impact on Maine's economy."
Governor Baldacci reiterated that federal energy policy should focus on renewability. "As we have shown in Maine through a comprehensive plan to gain energy independence, beneficial energy policies focus on making economic sense, protecting the environment, and encouraging renewable energy resources and technology. The goal to energy independence is enhanced when all these pieces are working together. This bill in Washington does not achieve the balance that we in Maine need. As the bill moves to the Senate, I will continue to work with the Maine Delegation to ensure Maine's concerns are heard.
One of the Governor's first actions upon taking office was to create the Governor's Office of Energy Independence. The Administration has led by example, reducing travel, tripling the number of hybrid vehicles in the sate fleet, establishing green building standards, and expanding the state's vanpool program.
The Baldacci Administration has also put forward programs and policies to make the entire state more energy independent and secure, including instituting tax credits for productions of bio-fuels in Maine, rebates for purchasing and installing solar electric, hot air and hot water systems, and a model residential energy building code. Most recently, the Governor signed his comprehensive energy legislation that will help to stabilize and reduce Maine's homeowners and businesses energy bills.
"It's these kinds of measures together," said the Governor, "that steers us toward an energy future that will be lower cost, less dependent on imported fossil fuels, cleaner, and better for the state's economy." The text of the letter Governor Baldacci sent to Senators Snowe and Collins is attached below:
Dear Senators Snowe and Collins:
As Governor, I have a profound interest in maintaining strong federal protections for Maine's and our nation's coastal environments, as well as the economic and social benefits they support. I am deeply concerned that proposals currently pending before Congress, including H.R.4761 as approved in the House of Representatives on June 29th, would effectively overturn nearly a quarter century of bipartisan protection for this critical resource.
Maine's coastal zone is very important economically, to both our fishing and tourism industries, and as a defining characteristic of what we are as a state. The proposals before Congress pose a threat to these values, while pursuing an energy policy that is misdirected towards continued dependence on fossil fuels.
I am a strong proponent of the United States becoming more energy independent, but such independence must not come at the cost of the fragile ecosystems and vital economies of our coastal waters and shores. Before we sanction further exploration and drilling off our shores, we need to aggressively pursue strategies to reduce demand for oil and natural gas, regardless of where it is produced, and to pursue renewable sources of fuel using domestic resources. This is the only reliable long-term strategy for achieving energy independence. There are also other options for increasing supply that should be examined prior to having the federal government expend limited resources to encourage expanded oil and gas production of our coast.
With regard to H.R. 4761, although the bill approved yesterday by the House would allow states some continued protection from offshore drilling, a ban on offshore drilling in Maine's waters would not protect our coastal areas from harm caused by drilling-related incidents in nearby waters. Any pollution associated with offshore drilling incidents could easily spread from one state to adjacent states that have chosen to ban coastal exploration and production. This would expose Maine's coastal ecosystem and economy to unacceptable levels of risk from potential drilling and associated accidents over which we would have no control. While the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts favor continuing the moratorium on drilling, who can know the views of future Governors in those states.
Drilling in our ocean waters should be a last resort, not a first step toward achieving energy independence. I urge you to vigorously oppose any proposal that undermines or removes the legislative and administrative moratoria that have protected our shores from the risks of drilling since 1984.
John E. Baldacci