June 2, 2005 – * The editors have issued a significant correction to this news brief.
The governor of Maine last week signed into law a measure requiring the stateâ€™s environmental agency to weigh the economic impact of regulations when instituting and enforcing them, reversing two-year-old legislation that made the state the first in the nation to embrace climate change emissions standards.
The bill, sponsored by Republican State Representative Henry Joy, requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to issue a cost-benefit estimate with each new emission control rule it adopts. Supporters of the legislation include the Maine Heritage Foundation, an arm of the Washington DC-based conservative think tank; the Maine Automobile Dealers Association; and the Maine Oil Dealers.
Joyâ€™s bill effectively reverses large portions of a 2003 law which is itself based on an agreement reached in 2001 between New England governors and the premiers of Eastern Canadian provinces. The measure requires the state to set time tables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions drastically by 2020.
Environmentalists had hailed that landmark legislation and hoped other states would begin following suit in the face of the Bush administrationâ€™s departure from the Kyoto Protocols. The Natural Resources Council of Maine referred to Joyâ€™s bill modifying the 2003 package as "a prime example of [a] ploy used by climate [change] skeptics," saying in a recent press release that it would "create a double standard for any piece of legislation proposed that would help address global warming."