Energy and Environment

Energy and Environment

Throughout her time in the U.S. Senate, Senator Collins has worked hard on environmental and conservation issues.  A sustainable energy policy, land conservation, and protections for clean air and water, are essential for the health of our people, our environment, and our national and economic security. 

Deepwater Offshore Wind Energy: Senator Collins is a strong advocate for the promotion of deepwater offshore wind technology, an emerging industry with the potential to create thousands of good jobs in Maine.  Sixty-one percent of our country’s wind resource is in deepwater, greater than 197 feet depth.  Winds at these offshore locations, out-of-sight from land, are stronger and more consistent than winds on land.

At her request, both U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have visited the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center in Orono.  Senator Collins has worked with the Department of Energy to help secure funding for the development of innovative floating offshore wind turbine technologies.  Estimates are that development of five gigawatts of offshore wind in Maine – enough to power  more than 1 million homes for a year -- could attract $20 billion of investment to the state and create more than 15,000 green energy jobs that would be sustained over 30 years.

Reducing Mercury Emissions: Mercury is one of the most persistent, widespread, and dangerous environmental pollutants.  Senator Collins has made reducing this threat to our people and our wildlife one of her priorities.  The Senate has passed legislation that she authored to ban the sale of mercury fever thermometers, the source of some 17 tons of mercury to solid waste every year.  In 2005, she also led the fight to overturn a flawed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that would have allowed coal-fired power plants—the single largest source of mercury pollution—to continue to emit unsafe levels of this toxin.

Addressing the need to identify mercury “hot spots,” Senator Collins has introduced the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act.  This legislation would establish a comprehensive national mercury monitoring network to protect human health and track the environmental effects of emissions reductions.  This monitoring network would help policy makers, scientists, and the public to better understand the sources, consequences, and trends in U.S. mercury pollution. 

Clean Air Act: Senator Collins is a long-time supporter of the Clean Air Act, authored by Maine Senator Ed Muskie more than 40 years ago.  The Clean Air Act remains landmark legislation that has helped protect and improve our nation’s air quality and public health.  In 2011, Senator Collins voted against a significant attempt to roll back the Clean Air Act, which would have prohibited the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions forever, no matter what the health consequences are, no matter what future scientific research reveals, no matter the environmental impact.  The amendment also would have prohibited new emission standards for motor vehicles beginning in 2017, essentially halting the tremendous progress that has been made in reducing vehicle emissions and improving fuel economy.  She also voted against a Resolution of Disapproval that would have blocked implementation of the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

Advancing Domestic Energy Technologies: Senator Collins has worked to advance legislation that would promote clean energy initiatives, such as accelerating research of plug-in hybrid technologies for heavy duty trucks, providing incentives for producing alternative fuels from biomass, and improving the energy efficiency of motor vehicles and appliances, among others.

Energy Efficiency: Senator Collins strongly supports efforts to improve energy efficiency, including the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which has helped families weatherize their homes and substantially reduce their heating bills.  She serves as the Honorary Vice-Chair of the Board of the Alliance to Save Energy, a non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and energy security.

LIHEAP: As one of the strongest supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the Senate, Senator Collins has worked to secure federal funding for this critical safety net program.  Maine has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, and more than 80 percent of the homes in our state use home heating oil.  As a result of rising prices, we have seen how dangerous it is for senior citizens and low-income families when LIHEAP is not sufficiently funded.  Senator Collins will continue working to help ensure sufficient LIHEAP funding is available.  She is a cosponsor of the LIHEAP Protection Act to provide no less than $4.7 billion for LIHEAP, and she also joined with her colleagues in urging that President Obama restore LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion in his FY 2013 budget request.          

Land and Water Conservation Fund and Acadia National Park: As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has led efforts to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), including matching federal grants to states and local communities to develop outdoor recreation facilities, parks, and resources, and funding to support the acquisition of key parcels within Acadia National Park, a true gem of the Maine coastline. 

Ethanol: Reducing or eliminating unnecessary subsidies and outdated tax breaks is a commonsense step toward deficit reduction.  With this in mind, Senator Collins successfully fought to end the corn-based ethanol tax subsidy that cost taxpayers $6 billion a year.  

Forest Legacy: A strong and long-time supporter of the Forest Legacy Program, Senator Collins has worked during her time in the Senate to secure funding for key community-led projects in Maine.  In fiscal year 2012, Maine received $8.73 million to support two projects in Franklin County.  This funding will be used to preserve some of the most beautiful land in the High Peaks region while helping protect good jobs in Maine.

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