Portland, Maine—A comprehensive strategy to transition Maine off oil can reduce the state’s oil use by nearly 40% by 2030, according to the first-of-its-kind analysis released today by Environment Maine.
“It is time to declare our independence from oil. We can do it by getting the most out of every drop of oil we use and shifting to cleaner sources of energy,” said Environment Maine Field Associate Andrew Francis.
Getting Off Oil: A Roadmap for Curbing Our Dependence on Petroleum evaluates 17 public policies or measures with the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in Maine and across the country. The report finds that together the actions have the potential to reduce U.S. oil use by 31% below 2008 levels in 2030, a reduction of 1.9 billion barrels per year, which is equivalent to the amount of oil we currently import annually from OPEC nations.
A new Maine law passed earlier this year and spearheaded by Environment Maine commits the state to reduce its oil dependence by 30% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. The state now must develop a plan, led by the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, to achieve the goals.
The major findings of the report for Maine include the following:
• By implementing the policies outlined in the report, Maine could reduce its oil use by 29% by 2025 and by 39% by 2030, compared with 2008 levels.
• The key policies to curb oil use in Maine’s transportation system include deployment of electric vehicles (78 million gallons saved in 2030), strong light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards (70 million gallons saved), heavy-duty vehicle fuel economy standards (45 million gallons), rail and airplane efficiency (16 million gallons saved), and pay-as-you-drive insurance (9 million gallons saved), as well as other actions analyzed in the report.
• The key policies to curb oil use in Maine’s homes, business, and industry include commercial retrofits (48 million gallons saved in 2030), residential retrofits (19 million gallons saved), industrial boiler efficiency (11 million gallons saved), and residential building codes (6 million gallons saved), as well as other actions analyzed in the report.
“Maine has the tools to curb our dependence on oil, starting now. By getting the most out of every drop of oil we use through improved energy efficiency, shifting toward transportation systems that use less oil, and substituting clean fuels where possible, we can achieve a dramatic reduction in Maine’s oil use in the next two decades,” explained Francis.
Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, a former Marine and member of the veterans group Operation Free, echoed Environment Maine’s call to action to reduce oil consumption. “Maine is more dependent on oil than most states, since many of our households heat with oil. We send $5 billion every year out of the state in oil revenue to countries that do not have our interests in mind. It is vital for our national security and economic security that we reduce our dependence on oil,” du Houx said.
Adam Lee, chairman of Lee Auto Malls, explained that Mainers want cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. “As a third generation car dealer who has spent almost 25 years talking to customers in the showroom, I know for a fact that almost every single customer would rather buy a car or truck that gets improved fuel economy,” said Lee. “Whether it is a hybrid, a plug-in electric or just an old fashioned gasoline engine with improved performance, people are asking for more efficient vehicles.”
Ashley Richards, owner of Warm Tech Solutions, a business which specializes in residential and commercial energy retrofits in southern Maine, said that last year, Maine was “weatherizing 2,500 homes and saving home owners 1 million gallons of heating oil a year. The homeowner saves energy and money, and we put 10 people to work full time. Weatherization simply makes sense.”
Ashley Salisbury, a property owner in Portland, explained why she recently made major energy efficiency improvements that save oil and money. “Every time I got my heating bill it felt like I was getting kicked in the head, especially because I knew so much of it was waste,” she said.
The production, transportation, and consumption of oil imposes widespread environmental harm, including air pollution and global warming, habitat disruption caused by oil pipelines, and groundwater pollution from spills and leaking underground storage tanks. And with oil companies now having to go to greater lengths—and take greater risks—to satisfy the world’s demand for oil, the environmental impact of oil consumption will only increase in the years to come.
Environment Maine called on state and federal lawmakers to take the actions outlined in the report. In addition to the state putting together a plan to meet our new oil-reduction goals, President Obama recently outlined new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks—one of the most important strategies analyzed in the report—and the administration is expected to formally propose the standards in November.
“By taking action now to curb our use of oil, we can protect our climate, our oceans, our forests and rivers—and our own health—from the rampant pollution caused by the extraction, transportation, and combustion of oil. With the world’s easy-to-find sources of oil running out—and oil companies poised to tap riskier and more difficult-to-produce sources of oil in more environmentally sensitive places—now is the time for action,” concluded Francis.
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future. www.environmentmaine.org