The legislative discussions on the solar bill, L.D. 1649, are falling victim to the same ideological conflicts that make Congress totally ineffective. But climate change isn’t liberal or conservative. It’s about the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

The argument against L.D. 1649 is that it will increase utility rates and therefore harm businesses. In fact, the ratepayer impact of the bill is minimal. As in most legislative discussions, the focus is on the near-term economic impact.

More importantly, the discussion misses the long-term climate change implications for the ski, snowmobile, forestry, fishing, shellfish and maple syrup businesses.

We have in the state and in the nation a responsibility to address the biggest threat to our lives and livelihood, but global warming is on the low end of legislative priorities. The legislature should propose legislation that will encourage the expansion of solar installations by towns, individual homeowners, businesses, schools and other entities and the Governor should sign it.

We also need to look at other clean energy sources because we are now below 10 percent renewable. Hydro Quebec is at our doorstep, a huge clean resource. Environmentalists have been opposed to or ambivalent about hydropower, but the climate change threat demands the elimination of fossil fuels.

We are now paying for up to $75 million to build natural gas infrastructure. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal or oil, but there are widespread leaks of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from the source through the pipe network. So we’re subsidizing a fossil fuel, but somehow solar growth is interpreted as too costly.

We should expect our legislators and our governor to enact legislation to advance clean energy now. The state, our nation and the world have already waited far too long.

Tony Marple


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