January 10, 2018
Senator Thomas Saviello
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Re: Friends of Casco Bay Comments in Support of LD 1657: An Act To Update the Allowance Budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Dear Senator Saviello, Representative Tucker and Esteemed Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,
Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter in support of LD 1657: An Act To Update the Allowance Budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We respectfully request that the committee unanimously recommend LD 1657 “Ought to Pass.” LD 1657 asks little from Maine (we have six facilities that fall within RGGI), and yields significant benefits including funding for efficiency, improved air and water quality, health benefits, and more. It continues Maine’s participation in the bi-partisan RGGI and sets targets to lower carbon emissions from Virginia through Maine. As a recipient of carbon emissions transported here from out the state, Maine will see much greater benefit than any action it could take on its own.
Friends of Casco Bay supports RGGI because reducing carbon emissions will improve marine water quality and positively impact the future of Maine’s valuable shellfisheries. Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting and improving the water quality of Casco Bay. We have several thousand members and volunteers who rely upon Casco Bay for their livelihoods, recreation, and solace. We have monitored the water quality of the Bay for over 25 years. We conduct our research by land (taking surface samples at 14-36 sites around Casco Bay), by sea (using our research vessel as a platform to collect top to bottom water column profiles in areas representative of the Bay and in areas identified as having water quality problems), and through our continuous monitoring station which collects measurements every hour of every day. In relevant part, we use the data we collect to track chemical and biological indicators of ocean acidification, a negative byproduct of excess carbon emissions.
Ocean acidification occurs when carbon emissions from the atmosphere are absorbed into the ocean. Scientists estimate that oceans absorb 22 million tons of carbon dioxide every day. The carbon dioxide reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid and lower pH. This chemical change is called ocean acidification. Ocean acidification interferes with the ability of certain marine animals, such as clams and oysters, to make their shells. It also negatively impacts other marine species, including juvenile lobsters, in ways we do not yet fully understand. Friends of Casco Bay’s research data, particularly from our continuous monitoring station, show negative and troubling changes indicative of ocean acidification. For example, our data show periods of time with a lower calcium carbonate saturation state than expected. When the calcium carbonate saturation state is low, shell-forming organisms such as clams, mussels, and oysters have difficulty forming shells.
Carbon emissions also contribute to global warming, which in turn causes sea level rise from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. Our 25 years of data and observations show a trend of rising ocean temperatures (despite variations in temperature from year-to-year) and warmer water temperatures longer into the fall. Our members talk about the rise in sea level they have observed over the years, and we have observed greater King Tides and storm surges.
The most important policy change we can make to slow these negative changes is to reduce carbon emissions. In the context of the participating RGGI states, Maine is primarily a tailpipe state; it receives atmospheric carbon dioxide from other states that worsen air quality. Maine will benefit greatly from remaining part of RGGI.
For the above reasons, we urge the Committee to unanimously recommend that LD 1657 “Ought to Pass.” Thank you for considering our comments.
Ivy L. Frignoca
Friends of Casco Bay