Climate change could have economic benefit to Maine, the state’s governor said Thursday.
The The Northern Sea Route, a shipping passage from the East Coast of the U.S. to Asia, has historically been blocked most of the year due to sea ice. Recently, due to warmer temperatures, the passage has opened up — in 2011, 18 ships made the journey through the passage.
This, according to LePage, is good news.
“Everybody looks at the negative effects of global warming, but with the ice melting, the Northern Passage has opened up,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said at a conference on transportation. “So maybe, instead of being at the end of the pipeline, we’re now at the beginning of a new pipeline.”
The argument that the new shipping opportunities resulting from melting sea ice makes climate change a positive economic development has been made before — Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell lauded the “accessible arctic” that will result from melting sea ice, and this year’s host of the UNFCCC climate talks praised the “huge” time and energy savings new shipping passages will allow. But these new ice-free shipping passages aren’t without their threats. An ice-free Arctic will come with major security risks, and loss of summer sea ice will amplify extreme weather events that can lead to food shortages around the world.
LePage, however, isn’t known for his concern over the risks of climate change. Earlier this year, he pushed to get Maine exempted from certain anti-smog regulations, saying an exemption would promote economic development in the state. In June, he vetoed a bill that would have established a working group for climate change adaptation in Maine. And in April, he claimed a wind turbine in Maine depended on a “little electric motor that turns the blades.”