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By Lily Bohlke
AUGUSTA, Maine – With the Build Back Better Act expected to see a vote in the U.S. House this week, some Mainers are reminding their elected officials that climate change is a top priority.
The spending package before Congress would invest about $550 billion to cut the country’s carbon emissions. With the state seeing increased flooding, as well as smoke all the way from wildfires out West, said Jack Shapiro, climate and clean-energy program director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Build Back Better is crucial for Mainers.
“It delivers rebates and savings for families as they shift to electrification and more efficient appliances, like heat pumps, water heaters, windows and doors,” he said, “and we’re seeing how volatile and unreliable fossil fuel prices can be.”
Residents last weekend gathered at U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s offices to urge the Maine Democrat to vote for the spending package, but his office has said he needs more time to review it and isn’t yet ready to support the bill. Golden and a handful of other Democrats have thus far joined Republicans in opposing the bill.
Shapiro noted that in addition to lowering prices for renewable energy and speeding up the transition away from fossil fuels, Build Back Better includes incentives for folks to switch to energy-efficient appliances, retrofit their homes or buy electric vehicles.
“This can make a big difference for rural drivers in Maine, who have to drive further to get to the store or to the doctor,” he said. “So, savings like this are a really big deal.”
He added that coming out of the COP26 international climate change conference in Scotland, it’s important for the United States to do its part at the federal, state and local levels. He said the infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed on Monday makes strides, but added that he thinks Build Back Better also is needed to meet the nation’s goals.
References: Build Back Better framework The White House 2021