The Portland Press Herald

Democrats looking to finally tackle climate impacts to Gulf of Maine

Lawmakers are optimistic bills to implement bipartisan commission's 2014 recommendations will advance after years of delay.

After years of inaction, Maine may finally deal with the impacts of climate change along the coast, including ocean acidification, a byproduct of global warming that represents a potentially catastrophic threat to Maine’s marine harvesters.

More than four years ago, a bipartisan panel of experts convened by the Legislature issued a series of recommendations for Maine policymakers to respond to the acidification in the Gulf of Maine, which weakens clams and other shell-building animals and has been implicated in die-offs at mussel farms and oyster hatcheries. Despite dire warnings from scientists, clammers and hatchery owners, Republican legislative leaders and the administration of former Gov. Paul LePage declined to take substantive action.

But lawmakers in the new Democratic majority say they are moving to make up for lost time on this and other climate-related challenges to the Gulf of Maine, which has been the second fastest-warming part of the world ocean for the better part of the past two decades. The moves come amid a flood of worrying climate news, including a study released Thursday in the journal Science that found the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than a United Nations panel estimated just five years ago, and a report issued Tuesday that found U.S. carbon emissions had increased for the first time in three years.

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