YARMOUTH – Most parents would agree that one of our most important responsibilities is to leave the world a better place for our children and future generations.

As a mother, citizen and legislator, I consider this to be a top priority. That’s why I worked with fellow lawmakers to do just that.

All too often environmental issues in Augusta are portrayed as a tradeoff.

It is assumed that better protection for people and the environment will inevitably mean more costs for consumers and businesses.

This session, the Maine Legislature proved that conservation done right protects the environment and creates new economic opportunities, while also lowering costs for Mainers.

Here in Maine we spend a lot of money every year to power and heat our homes. Maine has many older houses that lose heat during the winter months.

As anyone with an older home knows, it can be very expensive to update things like insulation and windows.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle worked to create and expand programs that provide incentives and funding for Mainers to affordably winterize their homes.

Keeping that warm air inside your house means keeping more money inside your wallet.

Instead of watching their dollars go floating out through a drafty wall or window last year, Mainers were able to get back nearly $3 in savings for every dollar they invested in efficiency upgrade services, incentives and technical assistance, according to the Efficiency Maine Trust.

In addition to our cold winters, Maine also faces high energy costs because of our spread-out population and our distance from coal and oil supplies.

But we have huge natural advantages when it comes to renewable energy production. Maine is both one of the windiest states in the country and one of the most heavily forested.

building on these advantages, Maine can not only reduce energy costs and our dependence on unsustainable fossil fuels, but can create a whole new industry built around renewable energy production. According to the Maine Industry Initiative, building and installing biomass power plants as well as onshore and offshore wind energy turbines could create thousands of jobs in Maine over the next decade.

To help move us down that path, the Legislature passed a sweeping energy package that included incentives and funds for creating renewable energy production in Maine.

Another area of promise that I want to highlight is the work Maine is doing to expand recycling.

Lawmakers passed the first-in-the nation law to develop a framework for responsible recycling.

Items we used to throw away in landfills, such as televisions, computers and many products containing mercury, are now being recaptured by the manufacturers to reuse in other products.

This keeps these recyclable products from being thrown away, which costs our municipalities more and more money each year.

This past August in Portland, over 200 people from across the continent came to hear experts from this policy area speak about business opportunities, such as paint and tire recycling facilities, expanded electronic waste and hauling jobs.

In addition to protecting consumers and the environment, the law presents businesses with new opportunities by creating a demand for new types of recycling — a winning combination for our economy and the environment.

Protecting the environment does not have to come at an economic costs.

Environmental policy done right can result in a healthier environment and safer households, while also lowering costs and creating jobs.