3. Climate Change Policy – Local and National Perspectives
Morning Session (Fort Western Room, North Wing, 1st Floor)
* 2 credits are available for this session through APA AICP
This session will cover various aspects of climate change policy including talks related to coastal adaptation in regard to sea level rise, the effects of climate change on Maine’s lakes and strategies for adaptation, national-level policy initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions, and the potential costs of inaction on climate change as it applies to Maine.
* Presenters are indicated in bold font
- 8:30AM – 8:55AM: Sea Level Rise: Impacts and Planning for Resilience in Coastal Lincoln County, Robert Faunce
- 9:00AM – 9:25AM: Early Indications of Climate Impacts on Maine lakes: A Case Study from the Belgrades, Danielle Wain, Peter Kallin, Whitney King
- 9:30AM – 9:55AM: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and Its Implications for Climate Change Mitigation, Michael Jones
- 10:00AM – 10:25AM: Increasing Federal Disaster Recovery Costs Due to Climate Change, Staff, Office of Senator Collins
8:30AM – 8:55AM
Sea Level Rise: Impacts and Planning for Resilience in Coastal Lincoln County
Robert Faunce, Lincoln County Planner
While some may quibble about the causes of climate change, it is undisputable that sea level is rising, both world-wide and in Maine. The increase in sea level along Maine’s coast was relatively constant but modest until the last 20 years or so. We have now entered a period where sea level is rising at rates never previously experienced and even conservative projections for future increases are breath-taking.
Lincoln County has between 450 and 640 miles of tidal coastline, depending on the source and how islands and estuaries are counted. Sixteen of the county’s nineteen communities and its four wastewater treatment facilities are threatened by rising seas to varying degrees. Using funds awarded under the Maine Coastal Program’s Coastal Community Grant Program and the Department of Marine Resources’ Shore and Harbors Program, sea level rise impact studies have been completed or are now in process for Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor downtowns, Monhegan Island and the Wiscasset and Boothbay Harbor wastewater treatment plants and pump stations. In addition, sea level rise considerations have been included in the planning processes for improvements to the Boothbay Harbor Fish Pier, the Monhegan Island Breakwater, Damariscotta municipal parking lot and the Wiscasset Recreational Pier. However, costs have been and continue to be major impediments to implementing many commonsense recommendations for improving the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure to rising seas.
9:00AM – 9:25AM
Early Indications of Climate Impacts on Maine lakes: A Case Study from the Belgrades
Danielle J. Wain1, D. Whitney King2, Peter L. Kallin1
1 7 Lakes Alliance, Belgrade Lakes, ME
2 Colby College, Waterville, ME
Climate change is expected to have a variety of impacts on the world’s freshwater resources. Maine’s lakes are no exception. Warmer and longer summers will change patterns of stratification, increasing in strength in lakes that already stratify, and leading to stratification in lakes that previously remained well mixed through summer. This is likely to increase anoxic periods and lead to anoxia in lakes that are usually well oxygenated, which in turn will result in more release of phosphorus from lake sediments. Increased storm events will increase phosphorus loads from the watershed.
Warmer waters and high phosphorus levels are ideal for nuisance blooms of cyanobacteria, reducing the value of lakes for recreation and potentially releasing toxins into the water. Warmer and longer summers will also increase the habitable range of some invasive species, as well as reducing the effectiveness of Courtesy Boat Inspections in reducing transmission of invasives as more boats enter the water outside the traditional Memorial Day-Labor Day summer period. Because of the variety of lake characteristics found in the Belgrades, all experiencing the same climactic impacts, the Belgrade Lakes provide an ideal setting to examine early indications of such impacts on Maine’s lakes as well as to develop and test potential mitigation strategies and practices, such as changes to culvert specifications, increasing the width and biodiversity of riparian buffers, or changing fisheries management strategies.
9:30AM – 9:55AM
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and Its Implications for Climate Change Mitigation
Michael Jones, Professor Emeritus on Economics, Bowdoin College
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced into both the House and Senate and Congress in late 2018. By the start of this Sustainability and Water Conference it is expected to have been reintroduced in the 116th Congress. When enacted this policy will be effective in reducing America’s emissions at least 40% within 12 years. It will be good for people in that it will improve health and save lives. Additionally, the carbon dividend puts money directly into people’s pockets every month to spend as they see fit, which is especially helpful for low- and middle-income Americans. It will be good for the economy, creating 2.1 million additional jobs over the next 10 years, thanks to growth in the clean energy economy. It is bipartisan legislation, which is important because solving climate change is too urgent to get caught in partisan politics. It is revenue-neutral, with the fees collected on carbon emissions allocated to all Americans to spend any way they choose. The government will not keep any of the carbon fees collected.
In the wake of the severe hurricanes of 2017, the multi-year drought, interspersed with torrential rains across the west, and the wildfires in nine western states, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report requested by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on the economic impacts of climate change. The final tally in economic losses from 2017 events exceeded $300 billion. The GAO report states that the number and intensity of these extreme weather events will rise, costing taxpayers more than $1 trillion by 2039. If hurricane and wildfire seasons continue in a similar pattern to 2017, costs will exceed $6 trillion in 20 years.