Net Zero


Opinion – Appeared in the Wiscasset Newspaper

Rep. Edward J. Polewarczyk 

Mon, 11/27/2023

Rep. Edward J. Polewarczyk

One of Maine’s Climate Action Plan Goals is to “Reduce Maine‚Äôs Greenhouse Gas Emissions” and help Maine achieve its Net Zero Goal. Zero refers to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are removed from the atmosphere being equal to those emitted by human activity.  

Maine’s Clean Transportation Roadmap (December 2021) indicates that Maine’s transportation sector produced 54% of statewide, fossil-fueled GHG emissions in 2017 or approximately 8 million metric tons of GHG. If 54% of Maine’s GHG emissions is equal to 8 million metric tons, then 100% of the total emissions in Maine is approximately equal to 15 million metric tons. 

Actions are being taken to reduce emissions to achieve that goal. Typically, we are seeing the conversion to clean energy with the installation of solar systems throughout our countryside with the intent of reducing the emissions from fossil-fueled power plants. 

We are also being urged to move to electric vehicles. The most recent activity includes action by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. On Aug. 17, DEP held a public hearing on a new proposed rule, Chapter 127-A, Advanced Clean Cars II Program. This new rule would establish motor vehicle emission standards for new passenger cars, and light-duty trucks, and medium duty vehicles by incorporating the requirements of the California Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulations, beginning with the 2027 model year and continuing through the 2032 model year. The proposed rule requires dealers to sell an increasing percentage of new light-duty zero emission vehicles (ZEV) each year, starting with 43% ZEV sales in model year 2027, and leading to 82% in model year 2032.   

So where does Maine stand? Maine generates approximately 15 million metric tons of GHGs annually. However, Maine is blessed with more than 17 million acres of forest. It has been reported that a single acre of forest can remove 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year. That being the case then Maine’s 17 million acres of forests would remove approximately 45 tons of GHGs each year. Maine’s forests remove close to three times the amount of GHGs than is created. Maine is currently beyond Net Zero. 

Being beyond Net Zero puts Maine in a unique position where our citizens should not be pushed to achieve a goal we already meet. Thus far actions taken are having negative impacts on Mainers. The very forests that clean our atmosphere are being destroyed for solar energy systems resulting in higher electric rates.  For example, 20 acres of forest in Wiscasset have been clear cut at the airport to install a solar energy system.

Proposed rules by DEP would significantly limit our ability to purchase the vehicle we choose, essentially driving Mainers to purchase more expensive electric vehicles. 

Mainers bear the consequences of the actions taken supposedly to protect our environment. 

Maine is beyond Net Zero. 

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