Gov. Mills working on deal that will raise gas prices, Mainers need to speak out, says group

Governor Janet Mills speaks at the start of the first ever Maine Climate Council meeting.

AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills is negotiating a multi-state agreement that could sharply increase the cost of gasoline and diesel for Maine people, and Mainers should take the opportunity to weigh in with their comments, says a group that advocates for Maine’s taxpayers and consumers.

According to Maine People Before Politics, the agreement, said the Transportation Climate Initiative is akin to the California “cap-and-trade” arrangement that a study shows has been a factor in driving up gasoline prices for drivers in that state in recent years.

The Boston Globe and Boston’s public radio station WBUR have both reported that Governor Janet Mills is negotiating on behalf of Maine as one of twelve states in the eastern United States looking to impose new restrictions and costs on gasoline and diesel sales.

“We urge all Maine consumers and businesses to provide input on the TCI framework released last week,” stated Julie Rabinowitz, director of policy and communication for Maine People Before Politics.

“Forcing businesses that sell gasoline and diesel to pay permitting fees to state government would pass a regressive, hidden tax onto Maine drivers and increase the cost of everything delivered over the road. As a rural state, our residents need to make their voices heard,” said Rabinowitz.

Governor Mills has been fairly tight-lipped about Maine’s participation. Earlier this year a report from the Bangor Daily News indicated that Maine was in discussions but had not “formally joined” the initiative. The initiative’s website now lists Maine as one of the states in the coalition.

Mills recently made news by signing a surprise executive order and announcing to a United Nations audience that Maine would be “carbon neutral” by 2045. The co-chair of Governor Mills’ recently appointed thirty-nine person “Climate Council” admitted to the Portland Press Herald that same week that Mills’ council had not yet created a carbon budget to determine where Maine stands in regard to net carbon emissions.

That lack of a baseline understanding of Maine’s current status does not appear to be slowing Governor Mills’ efforts.

Maine People Before Politics is urging Mainers to submit public comment on the TCI website through this online form.

The initial public comment period will end on November 5, 2019.

“Despite the extensive coverage in Boston media of last week’s release of the framework and the opening of the public comment period, there has been little coverage of this story in Maine. Yet this initiative holds tremendous financial implications for Mainers. Our tourism economy alone is highly dependent on gas prices,” Rabinowitz stated.

The draft TCI Framework was announced October 1. The states are currently developing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) reflecting the framework, which is expected to be released this coming December for further public comment. Each state will make its decision to commit to the initiative by signing the formal MOU sometime in the spring of 2020.

The 12 participating states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. Washington D.C. is also participating.

Some states will be required to pass legislation enabling the policies they negotiate to go into effect, while others may not be required to do so.

The TCI online form for public comment can be found by clicking here.

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