Gov. Janet Mills said state government will embark on new strategies to combat climate change, including curbing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning to clean power sources and changing over to an all-electric fleet of light vehicles.

Mills on Tuesday released a “Lead by Example” report by two state agencies outlining steps state government will take to become more energy-efficient and increase environmental and sustainable practices. Mills said the steps will reduce operating costs, support state employees and fight climate change.

Mills said Mainers are making changes in their homes and businesses to cut their energy bills, reduce fossil fuel use and minimize their contributions to climate change.

“It’s time that state government, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, does the same,” she said in a statement.

The report was produced by the Governor’s Energy Office and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. Mills ordered the two offices two years ago to produce the report, saying Maine would lead the way on policies to protect the environment.

State officials said the report’s steps will save money, create new markets for Maine-made products, make the state more resilient to climate change and help Maine meet its goals for reducing emissions and shifting to renewable energy.

The steps range from enhancing existing programs and policies to new initiatives.

For instance, the report calls for increasing work-from-home opportunities for state workers to reduce gas consumption and resulting greenhouse emissions, but that was already underway because of the pandemic.

But it also calls for the state to switch to clean energy for all state operations by 2024 and use state facilities and land to generate it, such as installing solar panels on state lands and buildings. And, the report said, the state should use environmentally friendly materials, such as cross-laminated timber, when building new offices and other government facilities. Such engineered wood products are energy-efficient and could also create demand for Maine forest products.

The state also envisions modernizing heating and cooling systems, using high-efficiency lighting, upgrading weatherization in state facilities and changing over it’s light-duty fleet to zero-emission vehicles.

Many of the efforts call for relatively simple purchasing changes, said Anthony Ronzio, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. For instance, Maine already buys dozens of cars and light trucks every year, so buying zero-emission vehicles is not a big adjustment.

When such changes cost more, he said, state agencies may draw from Maine’s portion of a settlement with Volkswagen over allegations that it equipped diesel vehicles with devices to cheat emissions tests. Maine received about $21 million from that settlement and will set aside $3.6 million to help pay for emissions-lowering efforts.

Ronzio said many of the steps are in keeping with initiatives by the Biden administration to cut greenhouse gas emissions and use more environmentally friendly energy sources.

“A lot of this aligns with where the federal government is taking us,” he said.

Ronzio said many of the initiatives will also keep the state on track toward the Legislature-mandated goal of reducing state greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. He said Maine is about a third of the way toward that goal.

Many of the programs will not require legislative approval, Ronzio said, because they fall under Mills’ authority as the state’s chief executive. In addition to the steps unveiled Tuesday, she also has set a goal for the state to be carbon neutral by 2045 and wants to increase the number of Mainers working in the clean-energy sector to 30,000 by 2030.

Mills has ordered reports every two years on the state’s progress toward meeting the environmental goals.


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