Congress has been quick to pass trillions of dollars in economic relief legislation to address the economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on jobs and our national economy. However, a key sector of our nation’s economy that has yet to be directly addressed is clean energy, which, prior to the pandemic, supported more than 3.3 million jobs nationwide, including more than 12,000 right here in Maine.

Thankfully, we have a champion of clean energy in Sen. Susan Collins, who cosponsored the cutting-edge CLEAR Act in 2009, which would have lowered carbon emissions by raising the price of fossil fuels to spur the development of clean energy, while returning revenues via dividends.

As much as we appreciate the senator’s support, we need her continued leadership moving forward to help pass pro-growth legislation that will enable Maine’s clean energy workforce in order to thrive post-COVID-19 pandemic.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act – bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Sens Mike Braun R-Ind., Debbie Stabenow D-Mich., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. – is one important piece of the legislative puzzle necessary to help right the clean energy economy. Sen. Collins should consider throwing her support behind this bill, to incentivize farmers and foresters to cut carbon emissions by removing barriers for them to participate in carbon-credit markets.

This legislation is one that would help keep America on the leading edge of innovation while protecting our natural resources, spurring economic growth, and helping farmers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to recover, while being more effective stewards of the environment.

However, even with the senator’s support of this bill, there is still much more work left to do in order to help Maine recover the clean energy jobs it has lost due to the pandemic.

Nationally, more than 450,000 clean energy workers are still out of work since the beginning of the pandemic, including almost 2,000 clean energy workers in Maine, or roughly 13 percent of our clean energy workforce. As we look for ways to revitalize our economy, it will be critically important to create more clean energy jobs as soon as possible, especially given the immense economic potential clean energy has to offer our state and nation.

Already, there’s a lot for Mainers to be proud of when it comes to statewide efforts to lower carbon emissions. Over the past 15 years, Maine’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by a little over 40 percent – three times faster than the rest of the country, mostly through carbon pricing of electrical generation fuels. We should continue building on this success for both clean energy workers and employers. This is where Congress comes in.

In order for Maine to build on our already impressive track record of curbing carbon emissions, Congress needs to pass an economic plan that will both cut emissions and add jobs. This would be the effect of enacting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, (currently HR 763 in the House and under consideration in the Senate). It would add a fee to all hydrocarbon fuels based on their carbon dioxide emissions, while returning all revenues equally to everyone’s household budget. It would speed investments in a 21st century infrastructure, and provide incentives to innovate in clean energy. It would surely put Americans back to work.

Mainers are grateful for the work Sen. Collins has done to support and advance clean energy in our state, and overall support for her is clear. She should continue to build on this legacy by helping advance responsible, forward-looking legislation to promote economic prosperity while ensuring the nation continues to lead on carbon reduction efforts that will protect our environment, and our economy, for generations to come.


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