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Maine businesses push for action on climate change

More than 250 Maine businesses have called on U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins to help keep new regulations for power plant emissions on track.2-13-14-climate
Maine Businesses for Climate Action and the Natural Resources Council of Maine are urging King and Collins, Maine Independent and Republican, respectively, to support the Environment Protection Agency's proposed rule that would limit carbon emissions for new power plants. More than 250 businesses have already signed on to the letter to support the carbon emissions limit, which would be similar to regulations adopted as a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
"We have little to lose from cleaner power plants," said Bonnie Frye Hemphill, of the NRCM. "We only gain."
The rule, which was approved in the Clean Air Act, will limit the amount of emissions that new power plants can emit, according to the NRCM, and cut the amount of pollution that the groups say is a factor in climate change.
Hemphill said climate change is having a real impact on Maine's economy and quality of life, and limiting emissions is an important step that needs to be taken.
"This is very important for us on the waterfront," said Ken McGowen, owner of the Porthole Restaurant and Casablanca Cruises. He said Maine is already seeing dramatic changes as a result of climate change as swings in the weather are impacting tourism and as he hears fisherman talk about lower catch volumes.
"I think the lobster industry and the marine industry is very sensitive to this," he said.
Bill Mook, of Mook Sea Farm in Walpole, said carbon dioxide is starting to impact the acidity of the ocean, and could have severe repercussions for his business and other fishing and lobstering businesses. He said people who depend on shellfish are on the front lines of the acidification issues.
"We're the canaries in the bola mine," he said. Mook said he's not panicked yet about the long-term impact but he's certainly keeping a close eye on it.
Maine has already been a leader in limiting emissions through RGGI, Hemphill said.
"It's time for the rest of the nation to follow our lead," she said.
Hemphill said the rule changes is making its way through the EPA now and has been reaffirmed by Congress and Presidents Bush and Obama. She said there is no reason for another vote on the matter but energy interests are lobbying to do just that.
King and Collins are being asked to advocate that the rule change stays on track and is not brought back for another vote, Hemphill said.
"We don't need another referendum on clean air," she said.

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