Maine State Capitol, Augusta, ME. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Listen to the report HERE.

By Lily Bohlke

March 2, 2022   

A new report outlines steps Maine could take to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution, create new jobs and build more equitable and resilient communities. It comes on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finding that the window to reverse the impacts of climate change is closing.

Kilton Webb, a fourth-year apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 567 who has worked on a solar field and other clean-energy projects, said it means a lot to be part of the transition to a clean economy.

“For me, building up labor standards goes hand in hand with building the renewable-energy infrastructure,” he said. “We need a well-trained and highly skilled workforce to complete all these coming clean-energy jobs.”

The report from Cornell University said Maine could work to electrify transportation and make new housing and schools more energy-efficient. On the labor side, it recommended making sure energy projects follow prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements, strengthen collective bargaining and create career pathways for people most affected by climate change, as well as workers transitioning out of the fossil-fuel industry.

Mike Frager, a bus operator for Greater Portland Metro and vice president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 714, said he sees a huge opportunity to electrify buses, noting that Maine’s school buses travel more than 31 million miles each year.

“We need to expand our public-transit systems as well, especially in rural areas,” he said. “Every passenger I pick up is potentially a car off the road, which is good not only for the climate but also improves air quality and reduces traffic congestion.”

The bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last year includes millions of federal dollars for public transit and electric-vehicle charging. Maine transit agencies are expected to receive roughly $241 million over five years, and Maine is set to get $19 million for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.

In a virtual news conference, Maine labor leaders react to a new set of recommendations about how to improve the state’s climate resiliency. (Maine AFL-CIO)


Infrastructure bill U.S. Congress 2021
Maine Climate Jobs Report ILR Worker Institute, Cornell University 3/2022