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Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan is the political director at the Maine Service Employees Association, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. He served as Majority Leader in the Maine House of Representatives.
One in three Americans live in a county that an extreme weather event directly harmed this past summer, and for Mainers, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Climate change is making these extreme weather events more deadly and severe, and for the sake of our family members, neighbors, friends and our state’s entire economy, we cannot delay addressing the climate crisis.
The impacts of climate change can be felt across our state. Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine will have an impact on our state’s marine life, ultimately threatening essential industries in our state, like lobstering. The rapidly warming gulf is also disrupting the ecosystems of Maine’s wildlife, including the rare Atlantic puffin. This fall, climate change has even affected foliage season in Maine and across New England. And I’m sure we’ve all grown accustomed to the neverending and always increasing tick population.
The climate crisis is not an abstract problem that future generations will have to face. It’s here right now, harming our communities, environment, and very way of life. Many of the workers we represent at the Maine Service Employees Association are on the front lines of mitigating climate change every day. Agencies like the Department of Marine Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife all have employees key to our state response. Their work supports those in the natural resource economy, alongside those of us who hunt and fish.
At the Maine Service Employees Association, our members know that we can’t afford to settle for anything less than bold action to address the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, and that is where the “Build Back Better” act, legislation before Congress right now, comes into play.
With President Joe Biden and congressional leaders having recently unveiled a framework for this climate-focused bill, the act would invest in clean energy technologies and create good-paying jobs in the process. The bill promises more than $500 billion to address climate change — the largest investments ever put forth by Congress to tackle the climate crisis. The act would be a down payment on our future and could put us on the path to reducing carbon pollution by at least 50 percent by 2030, which scientists tell us is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
For Maine, these investments would translate to new jobs and boost our economy. Already, almost 12,000 Mainers are working in clean energy. The Build Back Better act would invest in this growing industry, helping to sustain millions of jobs across the country and here in Maine. Clean energy is already increasingly popular in our state, and with the Build Back Better act, we can further this booming, pollution-fighting industry.
The climate measures included in the Build Back Better act are hugely popular here in Maine. In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, represented in Congress by Jared Golden, 69 percent of voters support addressing the challenge of climate change by shifting to greater use of clean energy, and 67 percent support investments in clean energy such as wind and solar power by extending tax credits to spur innovation and manufacturing, according to a recent poll. A different poll found that 61 percent of Mainers in the 2nd District also support the measures in the Build Back Better act that would deliver on these bold climate and clean energy investments.
It’s more important now than ever that our leaders in Congress lead the way to a clean energy future and support the Build Back Better act to make the investments our state and nation need to fight the climate crisis. To set up Maine and future generations for success, our leaders should act now and support the Build Back Better act. With so much at stake, we cannot afford anything less.