Green New Deal passes Maine House

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It takes less than a second for a basketball to leave the hands of a player attempting a three-point shot, sail through the air and fall gracefully through the hoop. However, as each minute of game time passes, those shots seemingly take longer and longer to drop. They’re no longer bound by traditional gravity, momentarily weightless, with the emotional sanity of thousands hanging in the balance.

In a sense, the short history of Green New Deal legislation in the United States is comparable to one of these shots. The bill was introduced nationally – the shot attempt – but swiftly disposed of on that national level, we’ll call that the defender getting a hand on the shot without blocking it entirely, just enough to change the ball’s flight pattern. The months since that attempt have been like those exponential fractions of a second late in a game, as we sit around waiting to see if the shot will land in the hoops of any of the 50 states now tasked with establishing a Green New Deal of their own.

That shot is traveling quickly in Maine, and as far as anyone can tell so far, appears to look like it’s going in. Last night, the Maine House of Representatives passed LD1282, or as it’s more commonly known, An Act To Establish a Green New Deal for Maine by a 84-55 vote, sending the bill to the next chamber, the State Senate.

Like any good legislative session, this one had its fair share of drama, too:

And, while advancement of the bill is good news at the surface, the policy within the Maine Green New Deal (MGND) comes off a fair bit weaker than the ambitious naming and aura of the policy would lead one to believe.

MGND is founded upon three policy principals:

  1. Requires construction employers constructing grid scale generation facilities to hire certain percentages of apprentices to work on the construction beginning in 2021
  2. Requires that the Efficiency Maine Trust, in collaboration with the Department of Education, identify and provide incentives for cost-effective electric and natural gas conservation projects in new school construction projects
  3. Requires the Efficiency Maine Trust to establish, through a competitive solicitation process, a power purchase agreement for solar capacity to be installed on school property when a new school is being constructed.

In short, the issue with this legislation is that everything sounds really nice, but comes off as having more fluff than substance.

The large criticism of MGND is that it doesn’t carry the weight of its name. Instead of clear direction from the legislature towards significant renewable development, it’s a mandate for energy efficiency measures and solar systems on school buildings. Basically, like a lot of hype without much substance. It’s like buying a laptop, opening the box and finding a calculator inside instead. Calculators are nice, but it isn’t a laptop.

However, all those criticisms in mind, this is still Maine we’re talking about, and it’s profound enough that we’re even saying the words “Green New Deal” in regards to a state not so distantly removed from the administration of former Governor Paul LePage (R).

Furthermore, there is a 50% by 2030 RPS policy proposal in the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, which allegedly has the legs to pass the House and Senate and be enacted in the next few weeks. This RPS, if agreed upon, would come as a compromise for the 80% RPS which was removed from this bill in the House.

Considering the bill has yet to hit the State Senate floor for discussion, it’s just too soon to tell what it will look like when and if it gets signed by Gov. Janet Mills (D). For now we wait, eyes fixated on that round, orange, policy ball singularly focused on its flight.

The original version of this article relied on a piece of legislation that was outdated at the time of publication, ultimately leading to inaccurate conclusions. We are deeply sorry for this mistake and have corrected the article to reflect the actual legislation.