In 1962, President John F. Kennedy famously said, “We are tied to the ocean.” Mainers know this as much as anybody in the United States and, yet, we are at an inflection point where our connection to the sea may soon be damaged beyond repair.

You see, the Gulf of Maine is warming 99 percent faster than the global ocean average, which means Maine’s aquatic ecosystems are being devastated. These increased ocean temperatures harm fisheries, cause stronger and more destructive storms, and accelerate sea level rise. Time is running out, but, if we move quickly, there are policies that can prevent this rapid warming of our water.

Yet, tragically, while these impacts will be felt right here at home, politicians far away in Washington, D.C. are doing the exact opposite of what needs to get done. Specifically, the Trump administration recently finalized a catastrophic methane rule that will turbocharge the disastrous impacts of climate change. The methane rule is just one of a long list of hazardous environmental policies under the current administration. Others include rolling back the federal clean car standards, and replacing the Clean Power Plan.

Climate change knows no border, and these national decisions will undoubtedly worsen climate impacts in Maine if they are not swiftly reversed.

Consider methane, which is a commonly released gas during the extraction of fossil fuels. It is a highly hazardous greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The Trump administration’s reckless deregulations will ratchet up the volume of this planet-warming gas in communities across our state for years to come.

By rolling back the Clean Cars Standards, the administration is harming our climate and our health. That rollback is estimated to result in more than 900 million additional metric tons of global warming pollution in our atmosphere. That’s the equivalent to the emissions of 195 million cars driving for a year or 990 billion pounds of coal being burned.

The Trump administration also halted climate progress by blocking the Clean Power Plan, which mandated a 32 percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2030. Under its replacement rule, power plants will emit 12 times more carbon dioxide in the next decade, and an additional 1,400 Americans will die annually by 2030 from air pollution exposure.

For Maine, all this global warming pollution has another pertinent local impact. Our state is often dubbed the “the tailpipe of the nation” because soot, smog, and other pollutants are known to travel from elsewhere in the country into Maine. This leaves us facing tremendous health consequences. Portland experienced 45 days of elevated air pollution level in 2018, while Aroostook and Oxford county both recorded 44 elevated pollution days. Ozone pollution exposure can trigger asthma attacks, lead to respiratory infections, and even cause premature death.

Knowing that all this harm is occurring and the clock is ticking, every one of us must be inspired to act. Pull out your smartphone and write to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, asking him to repeal the New Source Performance Standards for the oil and natural gas industry. And while you’re at it, also send a note to Sen. Angus King and ask him to introduce legislation to get methane under control.

Let’s use our voices to speak truth to power. Maine is getting dangerously warm, and we cannot take it anymore.

— Special to the Press Herald


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