Today’s topic is Maine’s Climate Plan, Maine Can’t Wait, with its mandate for adapting and mitigating the climate changes that have been happening for many years in Maine. Maine’s Climate Plan was developed from 2018 to 2020 by the Maine Climate Council, a hardworking group of over 40 volunteers representing industry, utilities, farming, forestry, fisheries, nonprofit conservation organizations, business leaders, a labor union leader, and Maine legislators and employees.
Many Maine jobs have been long dependent on our natural resources of forests, farms and fisheries. Seeing the changes in weather, ocean temperatures and currents, sea level rise, forests shifting from softwoods to more hardwoods, Maine government developed one of the first climate plans in the nation in the 1990s. This planning has earned Maine millions of dollars of once in a lifetime funds from the federal Infrastructure Act. Maine government is now able to implement many of the goals of Maine Can’t Wait, our climate-related needs without raising property taxes. The Department of Transportation, for example, is applying for discretionary funds that could double its budget in the 2022-23 fiscal year to replace old bridges and enlarge culverts to prevent flooding, among other projects.
Co-chairs of the current Maine Climate Council are Hannah Pingree, who leads the Governor’s Office of Planning, Innovation and the Future (GOPIF), which is implementing this plan, and Melanie Loyzim, head of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The goal of GOPIF’s three rounds of grants is to support towns in identifying local threats from damage caused by climate change, and to support towns and individuals to make investments to reduce, prevent, or mitigate those effects. Maine’s planning staff at GOPIF are partnering with communities who will identify their climate risks, to infrastructure, homes, businesses, wharfs, or public safety. GOPIF, headed by Hannah Pingree, supports both technical management and funding to help towns identify and solve their climate threats. Detailed goals and recommended actions have been made by subcommittees in the following areas: Transportation, Natural Resources, Buildings and Infrastructure, Health, Science and Technology, and Equity. At you can access a printed and online report listing goals and significant solutions in these areas.
How does this affect our readers? Our communities? Our work? How we get around? Access to beaches, working waterfront, rivers and lakes for fishing and boating? Or the way small woodlot owners manage their forests, and the practices farmers use to sequester carbon in their fields? I welcome ideas or concerns from readers and will try to cover more of these topics in future articles.
Some of the effects of climate change are obvious to all Mainers. For a decade, more intense storms with many inches of rain over several hours have increased flooding and culvert failure in Maine. Small culverts have been unable to contain larger water runoff since 2012 on Durham’s Route 125 and Tuttle Road during annual heavy rainstorms. Culverts overflow, forcing flooding across roads, which are washed away and remain unpassable until major rebuilding can be done. Federal funds will now pay for Maine town highway departments to replace the most vulnerable culverts with larger ones.
In recent years, the beach road many Sagadahoc residents walk over Sprague marsh to get to Morse Mountain and Small Point Beach has been underwater for several hours at every high tide. A decade ago, it washed out only during big storms.
Last winter was the first time in 45 years I have lived in Maine that Bath didn’t open its Goddard Pond ice skating rink, a great loss to children and adult’s exercise and hockey practice. Brunswick also was unable to keep their ice rink on the mall open for prolonged ice skating.
One of the goals of Maine’s climate plan is to provide resources to towns to better manage these increasing risks, and costs by adapting to the changing ecosystems around us. The Town of Topsham received $46,000 to replace high overhead lights for our town office and fire/police building with cheaper-to-operate, lower energy-using, LED lamps. Topsham’s energy committee is applying for the second round of grants to do a thorough energy audit of its town office, library and public works buildings to determine the areas of greatest energy loss. We may add insulation or stratification fans above the doors of our public works building to reduce heat outflow.
Efficiency Maine offers large rebates to homeowners, businesses and towns to do energy audits, if the homeowner implements weatherization and one of the cost-effective insulation steps recommended. Homeowners can go to for rebate amounts and conditions, including 90% of up to $10,000 in costs for income qualifying homeowners.
Bath has received a Resiliency grant from GOPIF to update its Comprehensive Plan and 2019 Climate Action Plan. They plan to add more robust action to their current Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction efforts in buildings and vehicles. Bath also received $4 million from the Federal Infrastructure Adaptation fund to manage combined sewer overflow and stormwater separation. They will use some of that grant to upgrade a vulnerable pump station from sea level rise impacts.
The University of Southern Maine wrote a successful $62,500 Resiliency Grant proposal to evaluate the effects of Climate Change on the two peninsulas south of Bath and Woolwich, including Phippsburg, Georgetown, Harpswell, and Arrowsic. Phippsburg listened to their residents, conservation commissions, and fishermen about the greatest expected effects of climate change on residents. Woolwich, Harpswell, and Phippsburg each chose a wharf for consultant, Barney Baker of GEI will evaluate on flooding and damage expected by estimated sea level rise of 3-4 feet by 2050.
Nancy Chandler studied Animal Behavior and Anthropology at Stanford University, then received her master’s in biology education in her home state of North Carolina at U.N.C. Chapel Hill. She is passionate about teaching energy conservation and hopes to get you thinking about how to use energy use efficiently to save both money and reduce greenhouse warming gases.

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