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Janet Mills’ first “Climate Council” meeting criticized for lack of concern about workers and jobs

Maine Governor Janet Mills outside the United Nations just before she announced Maine would be “carbon neutral” by 2045.

AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills’ new Maine Climate Council is taking fire after the first meeting of the thirty-nine-member council only mentioned the impact of the groups work on Maine jobs once. The meeting reportedly lasted more than three hours.

The group Maine People Before Politics says in a statement posted to Facebook that the only discussion about the impact of actions of the council on Maine jobs was when the keynote speaker of the meeting, a former EPA official under the Obama administration, confirmed that “retraining” Maine workers for jobs that were lost would have to be part of the plan.

The comment came in response to a union official asking a question concerning workers, “whose work lives are going to be changed pretty powerfully.”

The meeting came after Mills’ speech earlier in the week to the United Nations in which Mills promised Maine would be “carbon neutral” by 2045.

“Governor Mills has set climate goals for Maine’s economy before even gathering the “experts” to understand how those goals will affect our economy and jobs,” said the group in the post. “She is willing to commit Maine to emissions goals that countries like China won’t commit to, without a plan to get there and without knowing the effects on our economy.”

Among the thirty-nine members of the Climate Council, they also say there are only two scientists.

“22 Government Officials, 2 Scientists, 8 nonprofits, 1 regulatory consultant, 1 union representative, 3 businesspeople, 1 farmer, and 1 college student,” reads the post.

According to MPBP, the group has a $250,000 annual budget (not including staff) and the meeting included a lunch for about 150 people at an Inn in Hallowell.

Mills has given the group 14 months to figure out how they will achieve the goals she laid out as part of her promise to make Maine carbon neutral by 2045. The group has yet to publish the membership of the six working groups the council has created.

“The question is, just how many jobs will this cost Maine?” asked Maine People Before Politics.

But before the U.N. earlier this week, Governor Mills simply said, “Maine won’t wait.”

“I’m counting on all of you to work together to come up with recommendations that are concrete actions that we can take to meet our greenhouse gas and renewable energy generation targets,” Mills said to the Climate Council in Hallowell.

That statement appears to confirm that the Maine People Before Politics criticism is correct in that Mills does not know how, or have a plan to fulfill the promise she made before the U.N. for Maine to be carbon neutral.

The council was created through legislation passed in the recent session of the Maine Legislature.

Maine currently ranks 45th among the fifty states and Washington D.C. for carbon dioxide emissions and emits about one-third of one percent of the total carbon dioxide emitted in the United States, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

The EIA says Maine’s carbon dioxide emissions were already down by 28.8% from 2005 to 2016. During the first six years of the LePage administration, Maine’s carbon dioxide emissions were down by about 1.1 million metric tons per year.

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