Maine a leader in reducing carbon footprint

Clean air, clean water, clean everything is what I recall about living in Maine.

After all, I grew up in a small town in northern Aroostook County where traffic congestion pretty much happened only at the local general store where locals gathered for ice, milk and gossip. Or across the street at the local motel and restaurant that catered to people from away and locals alike.

A traffic “tie-up” happened when two friends driving in opposite directions stopped their vehicles in the middle of a town street to have a conversation about work, the weather, hunting or the cost of heating fuel. Or @#%* taxes. Local motorists coming upon such a scene tended to wait patiently or toot their vehicle’s horn in hello before driving onto the gravel shoulder to get around so as not to interrupt the conversation.

In Aroostook County, there are no smog warnings or “Spare the Air” days, and usually little need to run water through a treatment plant.

But things change over time. Population increases. More people means more vehicles means more gasoline used. More people means more energy needs means more petroleum products burned to make electricity. And those things mean more harmful emissions.

So, it is reassuring – but not particularly surprising given the type of people Mainers are – that a report released today shows that Maine is a leader when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint. That – and the state’s efforts in obtaining energy from alternatives such as wind and wave power – provides hope for sustainability in the long run in meeting energy needs through clean energy sources. And it means reducing greenhouse gases that help cause global warming.

The study – an analysis of U.S. Department of Energy data – shows that Maine’s carbon footprint was reduced by a larger proportion than any other state from 2004 to 2007, according to a Portland Press Herald story by staff writer John Richardson. Maine is leading the national trend for that period by dropping by 15 percent the carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas, according to the report by the Environment America Research and Policy Center.

That is a good start. But there is so much left to do.

Environmental advocates and state officials say those emissions still have to drop a lot lower in Maine and elsewhere in the United States to avoid such climate changes as rising seas and warmer, wetter weather.

“While that’s great, it’s also not enough. We need to keep going,” Katie Kokkinos, an advocate with Environment Maine, is quoted in the story. “The overall picture is, yes, we’re taking initiative and moving forward, but it’s still too slowly.”

Granted, there are other influences at work her, including the economic influences of higher oil prices.

But every effort toward the overall goal of global survival is well worth it and one part of that is reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

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