The Maine House of Representatives on Wednesday considered LD 1282, “An Act to Establish a Green New Deal for Maine”, a bill sponsored by Rep. Chloe Maxmin of Nobleboro. After Rep. Maxmin made an emotional appeal on the floor of the House, the body passed her bill by a vote of 84-55.
When speaking on the House floor about her motivation for sponsoring the bill, Rep. Maxmin stated “I care about our future. I want the Maine that I hand down to my children to be the same Maine that raised me. But I already see this changing and that is because of climate change.”
During her floor speech, Rep. Maxmin was interrupted multiple times by other representatives who called points of order questioning the relevance of Rep. Maxmin’s comments about climate change as they related to the content of her bill. However, Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Moonen gave Rep. Maxmin and others great latitude in their remarks during the floor debate.
Rep. Maxmin went on to make dire predictions—without citing sources—about Maine’s future. “Our $3 billion dollar a year snowmobile industry here in Maine will see its season cut 70 percent. Our $1.4 billion dollar a year forest industry is under threat; the Gulf of Maine, which supports a $393 million dollar a year fishing industry, is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans; and we all know the statistics beyond this around ticks, agriculture, sea level rise.”
After hearing Rep. Maxmin’s statements on the House floor, one would think that her bill takes monumental steps to impede the effects of climate change. A carbon tax? A prohibition on fossil fuels? Increases to the Renewable Portfolio Standard? New mandates under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative? No, the substance of LD 1282 has little to do with climate change. In fact, the bill is mostly a giveaway to organized labor masquerading as climate change policy.
You do not have to take my word for it, Rep, Maxmin said it herself on the floor of the House. “This bill was crafted with the labor community,” she said during her floor speech. “We are the first Green New Deal bill here in Maine or in the country to be endorsed by an AFL-CIO affiliate, and that is huge, and it is because of the apprenticeship language that is in this bill.”
She went on to add that other organized labor outfits, as well as the Maine State Building and Construction Council, approved of her “Green New Deal” for Maine. Why does organized labor support Rep. Maxmin’s bill?
LD 1282 mandates the number of apprentices that must be present on “generation facility” construction sites. The bill defines a generation facility as “a facility for the generation of electricity that has an installed capacity of 2 megawatts or more, other than a facility located on the customer side of an electric meter.”
In 2021, LD 1282 mandates that 10 percent of all employees working to construct a generation facility must be apprentices. The percentage of apprentices increases in 2025 to 17.5 percent, and by 2027, 25 percent of all workers constructing a generation facility must be apprentices.
The bill also orders the Efficiency Maine Trust to secure power purchase agreements for solar capacity to be installed on new school construction projects approved for funding by the State Board of Education, regardless of whether the installation of solar would be efficient or effective on the site.
During discussion of LD 1282, Rep. Norman Higgins of Dover-Foxcroft, who called himself “a strong supporter of solar power and renewable energy,” spoke in opposition to LD 1282 and voted against the bill. Rep. Higgins’ comments focused on a solar project currently being constructed within his district and how LD 1282 could actually impede the progress of similar projects in the state.
“The question that we’re wrestling with is the issue of manpower, which is part of the concern I have here,” Rep Higgins said. “If this bill were in effect, it would be very difficult to reach those manpower requirements. I think it [LD 1282] could have the potential of actually undermining our ability to do grid scale solar here in Maine because of the lack of a sufficient workforce.”
After its passage in the Maine House, the bill moved to the Maine Senate on Thursday where it was tabled until later in the legislative session.