PORTLAND, Maine — The Obama administration's new effort to reduce emissions from power plants represents an attempt to do on a national basis what's already happening in New England, the Environmental Protection Agency's regional chief said Wednesday.
New England has been a leader with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, renewable energy targets and other efforts and the goal is to create a framework for others states to follow suit to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants, Curt Spalding told attendees at a hearing organized by the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
"Once you start doing this work, the rest of the country will learn what we've learned in New England. It's not just good for our health and good for our planet but it's also good for us and our economy," he said.
The citizen hearing at the University of Southern Maine focused on President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.
Unlike four official public hearings hosted by the EPA in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Denver and Washington, Wednesday's event was an "unofficial" public hearing. The Island institute, Maine Medical Association, Friends of Casco Bay and Natural Resources Council of Maine are among the groups that had speakers at the event.
No power plant representatives spoke.
Speakers praised the EPA for tackling power plant emissions and climate change, urging regulators not to fall behind on their timetable. Some even urged even more ambitious carbon-reduction targets.
"The window of opportunity is closing. The time to act is now," said Tom Tietenberg, a long-time Colby College economics professor and former board member of the Efficiency Maine Trust.