On Monday, the day before President Obama told the country why it is critical to prepare for climate change, LePage vetoed a bill creating a multi-agency working group that delivers legislative proposals for climate change adaptation. Dismissing this effort as “layers of workgroups and reporting,” LePage cited “serious objections” to “unfunded mandates on the Executive branch or when the substance of the work is already being done.”
LePage’s veto, which came Monday, contrasts with Obama’s speech this week where he urged, “Those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it.”
A state-commissioned climate change report from 2010 arrived at the same conclusion:
“Maine communities and people will be unequally affected by climate change—often because some already face otherwise unrelated challenges. Among these vulnerable populations are elders, children, indigenous people, the disabled and handicapped, refugees, migrants and low income groups […] Many of these groups have less access to information and resources that would otherwise allow them to be proactive in preparing for climate-related epidemics, natural disasters, weather events and associated health risks.”
LePage does not mention the urgency of climate change adaptation in his veto, but he has denied climate change in the past, based on comments he made before becoming governor. “I just don’t know how severe it is and I’m not sure how much we as human beings contribute to it,” he said as mayor.
The vetoed bill would have required state agencies, particularly the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, to plan for climate change adaptation, which has stalled under the LePage administration.
As governor, LePage has repeatedly fought against what is one of the fastest growing industries: clean energy. He appointed an anti-environment corporate lobbyist to head the Department of Environmental Protection and has fought renewable energy targets and increased energy efficiency. In fact, he once happily accepted an award for obstructing offshore wind.
Despite LePage’s efforts, clean energy has had remarkable success in Maine. The nation’s first floating wind turbine was recently deployed there, while the state generated an impressive 187 GWh of electricity from its wind sector in a single month and employed 600 workers at peak construction.
LePage’s unpopularity in Maine appears to be finally catching up to him: After the legislature successfully overrode his veto of the budget, LePage admitted he may not seek a second term.