Archive for November 24th, 2012

Democratic Weekly Radio Address by Senator Joe Brannigan (Cumberland): Giving Thanks and Helping Others During The Holiday Season

Posted on November 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Joe Brannigan of Portland.

The holiday season has officially arrived. Many of us have spent Thanksgiving with family and friends and reflected on the many reasons we have to be grateful and thankful. As we move toward the new year, we often see a surge of people reaching out a helping hand toward one another. Maine people are known for a spirit of generosity and kindheartedness toward their neighbors. It’s perhaps embedded in our core values.

In fact, Volunteering in America, a national organization, found that Maine ranked 4th in the nation for volunteer hours—averaging nearly 48 hours per resident. Volunteering time adds up! In just two years, Mainers contributed over one-billion dollars in services just from volunteering.

Every day we hear stories of people rising to the occasion and making a real difference. We don’t need to look far to hear about Mainers reaching out to help a struggling neighbor—whether it’s fuel assistance to warm a family home, providing food for a family meal, or shelter to those without, many individuals are working hard to lend a helping hand.

Difficult times bring people and communities together. With a growing economic inequality in our country and right here at home, it is easy to focus on ways in which our society is pulling apart. But it is important to look at not just what divides us but at what we share—what we have in common—and how we can pull together. With a can-do attitude, and by being concerned citizens and good neighbors, we can pull together to help lift up our struggling neighbors, shore up our communities, and strengthen our state.

We’ve seen the dangers of inequality in our society. More so than ever before, extreme wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the middle class standard of living is under assault.

Jobs are hard to find. Wages are falling—or at best, flattening. And, many are faced with hard choices like, which bill to pay or not pay; how to trim the grocery bill so there’s money left to fill the gas tank; and hoping—on a wing and a prayer—that sickness doesn’t crop up. Frustration is growing as the American Dream fades.

My Democratic colleagues and I know that it is our job to work for Maine people by coming up with real solutions for job creation and retraining our workforce; by putting policies in place that make health care more affordable to Maine people, and by strengthening our education system so that the next generation of Mainers is prepared for the jobs of the future.

There’s no doubt that times are tough. And now, more than any other time of year, we are reminded of the resourcefulness and resiliency of Maine people.

And, so it’s important to remember that there are those who have needs greater than our own, and think about ways we can help them. In keeping with the tradition of giving, there are many ways in which anyone can help a family this holiday season. Even the simplest acts of kindness may mean a world of difference.

This is State Senator Joe Brannigan. Thanks for listening. Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Maine in great position to serve as gateway to low-cost Canadian electricity

Posted on November 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

As the seasons change and winter weather approaches Mainers look to find ways to reduce energy costs. Now is also the time to think about Maine’s use of energy as well as our own homes’ use of energy.

Maine needs a truly free energy market. I emphasized the importance of lowering our energy costs during my campaign. Creating ways to make this happen remains a priority of my administration. Recent events and reports show how Maine could better compete in the global economy if we had a competitive energy market that allows consumers their choice of resources.

Maine homeowners and small businesses have waited a dozen years to access the competitive pricing lawmakers promised in 2000, when they deregulated the state’s electricity industry. Now that competition has arrived, more than one hundred and fifty-thousand families are electricity-rate shopping from companies like Electricity Maine, Dead River, C.N. Brown, Fairpoint, and Gulf Oil. They pay rates far cheaper than the regulated “standard offer” negotiated by the Public Utilities Commission.

New technologies have made natural gas an excellent alternative for both power generation, which would further decrease the cost of electricity, and for heating homes and powering businesses.

Natural gas costs less than half of what it was five years ago. Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, the Modern World, recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that America’s growing natural gas supplies are generating a renewal in certain manufacturing industries. The drop in natural gas prices is spurring chemical companies to plan on investing billions of dollars in new factories in the United States. Yergin notes that, in the future, China’s historical advantage in cheap labor could be offset by cheap energy in our country.

Maine must be poised to take advantage of this—for both our people and economy. A new report by the New England Council and Deloitte noted that the cost to make a highly engineered product is only 2 percent higher in Maine than in the Southern United States. In comparison, Boston is roughly 33 percent more expensive. Lowering our energy cost would make us even more competitive within New England and the United States.

Deloitte makes several suggestions to improve Maine’s energy infrastructure by making it more reliable and diversifying our energy resources. In fact, it references our dependency on heating oil and encourages us to switch to alternative fuels. In addition to natural gas, our state has an abundance of natural resources we can use to produce energy. Wood pellets are a good example. Thermal storage technologies, like geothermal, can also lower heating costs. For power generation, Maine’s hydro, biomass and tidal power options are renewable, lower in cost, and cleaner than coal and oil.

Regulations now block our ability to take advantage of the abundance of resources out there. Studies indicate that Maine’s current Renewable Portfolio Standards Law, which mandates the minimum amount of energy consumers must purchase from various sources, will raise the cost of electricity in Maine by 8 percent in the next five years.

We need to reform our energy laws and remove the 100-megawatt limitation on renewable energy sources. This cap prevents us from taking advantage of the free market and new technologies. Getting rid of the cap would allow us to produce more renewable energy, import low-cost Canadian renewable energy, and make our state more competitive in the global economy.

Maine is in a great position to serve as a gateway to low-cost Canadian electricity. The money that could be realized by transferring power from Canada to southern New England would help offset our current energy costs and be directed into improving Maine’s economy.

Therefore, as we begin this heating season and prepare for the winter and legislative session ahead, think about what you could do if you spent less on energy and let your legislators know that you’d prefer to keep that extra money in your own pocket.

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