Fenwick Fowler of the group Carbon Cash-Back 4ME speaks Tuesday night to Farmington about including a resolution on climate pollution on the annual town meeting warrant. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — Selectmen voted 2-2 Tuesday night on a request to place a resolution on climate pollution on the annual town meeting warrant. The tie vote means the request was defeated.

The resolution calls on Maine’s congressional delegation to enact carbon-pricing legislation to protect Maine from the costs and environmental risks of continued climate inaction.

The resolution states, “To protect households, we support Cash-Back Carbon Pricing that charges fossil fuel producers for their carbon pollution and rebates the money collected to all residents on an equal basis with monthly dividend checks, it continues.” If approved, written notice of the vote would be sent within 30 days to the Maine delegation, according to the resolution.

A motion not to put the resolution to voters was supported by Selectmen Matthew Smith and Joshua Bell. Opposed were Stephan Bunker and Scott Landry. Selectman Michael Fogg was not at the meeting.

The selectmen agreed to revisit the issue when the full board is present.

“This is an agreement that’s been floating around the state for about a year,” Fenwick Fowler, representing the group Carbon Cash-Back 4ME, said. “Fourteen towns and cities have already adopted it. Forty in this region will be considering it at their town meeting.

“We’re hoping it would start a conversation in our community about what is currently happening for climate mitigation and what needs to happen in the future,” he noted.

Polluters, mostly petroleum products, would be charged at their source up to $15 per ton to start, Fowler said.

“You know that by charging them, they’re going to pass that cost on to consumers,” he said. “I would hope that 97% of that fee is returned to citizens in the nation on an equal basis.”

The program would start transitioning away from petroleum products and move toward renewable resources, Fowler said.

Bell asked if businesses be reimbursed.

Fowler said he did not believe so and thought they would pass the costs on to their consumers.

“Consumers will be getting a dividend check to help offset some of the costs,” he said.

Gasoline and home heating oil costs will go up, Bell said.

“It’s not going to reimburse them when they go to the grocery store and they’re paying more for their food because it costs more to get trucked there,” he said. “That’s my concern. We all know the fossil fuel companies are going to pass that on. In the end, consumers and small businesses are going to be paying that much more.”

Landry said he was a firm believer in letting citizens have a say. That could be problematic with Farmington’s town meeting being held by a referendum vote this year, he said.

A public hearing will be held before town meeting, but a lot of people going to vote would be seeing this for the first time, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

The challenge of getting the word to voters was not the board’s responsibility, Bunker said. He was not opposed to having it as a resolution but noted there are a lot of holes in it.

In other business, the board voted to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to vote on the proposed 2021 department budgets.


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