Monday, December 9, 2013
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A girl holds a photo of slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens at a vigil outside the Libyan Embassy in New York on Sept. 13. When Stevens was killed, Republicans soon doled out blame, but following the Newtown massacre, conservatives said that talk of new limits on firearms was an effort “to ‘capitalize on a tragedy,’” a reader says.
2012 File Photo/The Associated Press
Robert Newman, M.D.
New York City
Time to make cap-trade program fulfill its promise
As superstorm Sandy was battering the East Coast, New England shrimp-fishing regulators set a season quota 75 percent smaller than last year's, in response to a report from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission scientific panel that the Gulf of Maine shrimp population has shrunken due to environmental conditions.
The head of the panel that produced the report said evidence shows "the likely culprit for the decline is warming ocean temperatures."
Many lobsters taken off the coast of Maine in late spring were shedders that molted their shells a month and a half earlier than normal. Bob Bayer, lobster biologist and the director of the University of Maine's Lobster Institute, said shedding like this has never happened this early, and water temperature may play a role.
These events are consistent with what we know about climate change. Warmer weather means warmer ocean water. While climate change is a global problem, its impacts are experienced locally.
And this is why Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a CO2 cap-and-trade program for electric generators. But if Maine is really concerned about conserving its fisheries and related jobs, then this should be reflected in Maine's participation in this initiative.
RGGI is in the middle of a redesign, including setting new emissions limits. According to comments filed by more than 20 Northeastern environmental groups, RGGI is looking at potential cap levels that are so inadequate that they would not produce any meaningful emissions reductions.
For years, climate has been an untouchable issue in Washington. Despite Congress' failure, RGGI states like Maine demonstrated leadership. Now, as we experience first-hand what will happen if no action is taken, the RGGI states have lost their initiative.
It's time for Gov. LePage to connect the dots and get Maine to make RGGI live up to its promise.
Lauren B. Farnsworth