LEWISTON – A coalition of environmental groups has given Maine the highest grade among New England states for its efforts to address climate change.

Maine received a B, compared to a D-plus for New Hampshire, C-minus for Vermont and Massachusetts, and C-plus for Connecticut and Rhode Island. In the report card, which also included five eastern Canadian provinces, only Quebec scored higher, with a B-plus.

The score card, which grades states on their progress toward meeting goals established by a 2001 action plan developed by the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, was produced by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine and 16 other environmental organizations.

Overall, the report said, the region isn’t doing enough to address climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or prepare for the future.

The states were graded on eight categories and those grades were averaged to produce an overall score.

“Maine has made very good progress,” said Jennifer Andersen, an advocate for Environment Maine. “But the administration needs to continue its commitment and dedication to climate change and be very aggressive if we’re going to reduce emissions.”

Overall, she said, a B is a good grade. “On the policy goals, we think, Maine is doing very well,” Andersen said.

But even with policies that have been adopted, the state isn’t likely to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012, Andersen said. “But we feel there is enough time to see real reductions on that time frame.”

In individual categories, Maine received an A-minus on conducting a greenhouse gas inventory and creating a plan to reduce emissions and conserve energy.

“Maine did well on (those categories),” Andersen said, “which is important because its something that has to happen before you can be successful on the other things. If you’re going to take action, you need a plan. And if you don’t have a good plan, how are you going to be successful? Maine has a very good plan.”

Maine’s grades dropped on promoting public awareness, where it received a C-plus, and for reducing or adapting to the impact of climate change, where it scored a C-minus.

“We need to really understand what the changes are going to be,” Andersen said. “We have a lot of resource-based industries and they likely will feel the impact of global warming. … We need to look at adaptation and see what we need to do in the future.”

“Since taking office, I have set high goals for the state to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gov. John Baldacci in a statement released Monday. “I am pleased our efforts to reduce these emissions have been recognized once again. It is important to meet the aggressive targets of Maine’s Climate Change Action Plan to avert a climate crisis.”

Quebec received high marks for its emission reduction plan, which could reduce the release of greenhouse gases 1.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Included in the plan is a carbon tax, which could result in $200 million in revenue per year to finance the emissions plan.

New Hampshire, according to the report, hasn’t created a plan to reduce emissions and has taken few steps to reduce emissions.


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