Maine citizen petition for greenhouse gas rules

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Maine environmental regulators have initiated a rulemaking, after receiving a citizen petition asking for rules to reduce Maine's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8 percent per year.

According to an April 25, 2018 announcement by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, on January 24 of this year the Department received a "Citizen Petition for Rulemaking to Require the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to Fulfill its Statutory, Constitutional, and Public Trust Obligations to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Along a Trajectory that is Based on the Best Climate Science and that will Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change in Maine".

The announcement says the petition was signed by 696 registered voters, was verified and certified, and therefore triggers a statutory requirement that the Department open a rulemaking. Materials posted as having been circulated along with the petition cite sponsors including 350 Maine, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and Our Children’s Trust, These materials also link the Maine petition to a larger effort led by Our Children’s Trust, which is the force behind the Juliana v. U.S. kids’ climate lawsuit.

The announcement describes the rule requested by petition as creating a new "Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards" rule, which would set a statewide greenhouse gas emission limit for each year beginning in 2020, and would require submission of greenhouse gas emission reduction plans for certain stationary sources and vehicle fleets. According to the announcement, the proposed 8 percent per year reduction is equivalent to Maine reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to approximately 75 percent below 2003 levels by the year 2035.

The proposal would also establish a new rule addressing sulfur hexafluoride emissions from gas-insulated electrical switch gear, and amend ten existing rules to incorporate greenhouse gas standards and cross-reference the new Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards rule.

Maine law allows any person to petition an agency for the adoption or modification of any rule. When 150 or more registered Maine voters submit a petition to adopt or modify a rule, the agency is required to initiate appropriate rulemaking proceedings within 60 days. The Greenhouse Gas Petition Rulemaking will play out before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

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