This page provides an overview of the steps Maine is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In 2003, the Maine Legislature charged the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with developing a mitigation plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (H.P. 622 — L.D. 845, An Act To Provide Leadership in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change). This directive led to the development of the 2004 Maine Climate Action Plan.
In 2009, the legislature directed DEP to develop adaptation options for the state in order to prepare for climate impacts (L.D. 460, To Evaluate Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State). In response, DEP created a coordinating committee composed of representatives from the private and public sector to develop recommendations for adaptation action. This committee was subdivided into four working groups centered around Maine’s built, coastal, natural, and social environments.
In February 2010, the coordinating committee highlighted the need for adaptation planning; data, monitoring, and assessment; information and awareness; and planning and coordination. The committee presented its report, People and Nature Adapting to a Changing Climate: Charting Maine’s Course, to the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources of the 124th Maine Legislature (“2010 Plan”). The 2010 Plan includes 118 goals to help prepare Maine for climate impacts.
In June 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law "An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council." The act states that the impacts of climate change have created an "emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine" and find that the law is "immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety." To address the state's climate emergency, the act includes multiple provisions related to climate adaptation and resilience. Specifically, the act created the Maine Climate Council to advise the state's governor and legislature on ways to mitigate, prepare for, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. A Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and sector focused Working Groups will be established under the Council to carry out climate adaptation and mitigation research, and update Maine’s Climate Action Plan. The plan is to address prescient information on climate impacts to Maine's sectors, ecosystems, and communities most at risk, and the Council will recommend ongoing strategies and actions for climate adaptation and resilience. The Council must meet at least every three months, beginning no later than October 1, 2019, and present the governor with an updated Climate Action Plan by December 1, 2020.
In December 2020, the Maine Climate Council under Governor Janet Mill released Maine Won’t Wait in accordance with the 2019 law. Maine Won't Wait is a four-year climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to build community and environmental resilience, and to spur transformational economic growth and opportunity. The Council agreed upon four climate action plan goals to reflect the diverse challenges posed by climate change: reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions; avoid the impacts and costs of inaction; foster economic opportunity and prosperity; and advance equity through Maine’s Climate Response. These goals are supported by eight strategies for climate action included within the plan. Each strategy contains more specific outcomes supported by discrete actions, assigned to lead state agencies for effective implementation.
In early implemntation progress on Maine Won't Wait, on June 16, 2021, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law H.P. 1169 — L.D. 1572 directing state-level departments and agencies to conduct a review of their laws and regulations to incorporate considerations of a relative sea-level rise of 1.5 feet by 2050 and 4 feet by 2100. Additionally, this law directs state-level departments and agencies to identify ways to implement strategy F3 of Maine Won’t Wait, “to enhance community resilience to flooding and other climate impacts.” The state passed this law to address the impact of increasingly frequent nuisance or high-tide flooding on waterfront and shorefront communities, industry, and infrastructure over the next 80 years. The law requires these reviews be completed by January 1, 2022.
Further in 2021, the state allocated $20 million of its American Rescue Plan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief funding from the federal government to protect infrastructure by establishing an "Infrastructure Adaptation Fund" (S.P. 577 — L.D. 1733). This money will support improvements to at-risk infrastructure and enable state, regional, and local governments to leverage other public and private funds. The state legislature is also considering establishing a more permanent Infrastructure Adaptation Fund that could be financed by a $100-million bond, subject to approval by the state's voters (S.P. 532 — L.D. 1647).
Interagency Work Groups
On November 15, 2013, Governor Paul LePage sent a letter (see Appendix A) to the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection to establish the Environmental and Energy Resources Work Group (EERWG) to identify climate change vulnerabilities facing the state’s built and natural environment and create strategies to coordinate complex solutions across agencies. EERWG was composed of five state agencies and a representative from the Governor’s Energy Office. The governor asked EERWG to create a comprehensive list of agency actions “that address or respond to observed climate changes in the environment, mapping of natural resources or the study of impacts to industry consequent of environmental change factors” and then recommend how to improve coordination across agencies to increase efficiency.
In September 2014, EERWG released the Monitoring Mapping, Modeling, Mitigation, and Messaging report, which included concrete, voluntary recommendations to improve interagency adaptation efforts. In 2018, the Maine Interagency Climate Adaptation (MICA) Work Group, which succeeded EERWG, released a 2018 update to the 2013 report. The MICA Work Group consolidates state resources for adaptation, resilience, and mitigation, including through the Maine Adaptation Toolkit, and encourages interagency collaboration and cross-agency projects. The 2018 update, Maine Prepares for Climate Change 2018 Update, tracks progress on the 2010 Plan and elaborates on additional climate adaptation recommendations and strategies, emphasizing the state’s need to continue to improve interagency coordination in this area.
These pages highlight the progress Maine is making in implementing the goals set forth in the 2010 Plan. Since Maine just released Maine Won't Wait in December 2020, these pages will be updated in the future with the progress the state is making in implementing the adaptation actions and goals set forth in Maine Won't Wait. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Maine prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: August 9, 2021).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|Maine H.P. 1169–L.D. 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea-Level Rise||Law and Governance||June 16, 2021|
|An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council||Law and Governance||June 26, 2019|
|Maine Act to Help Municipalities Prepare for Sea Level Rise (LD 563)||Law and Governance||May 29, 2019|
|Maine LD 1602 – Establishes a Commission to study the impacts of ocean acidification in Maine||Law and Governance||April 30, 2014|
|"Resolve, To Continue Evaluating Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State" - Maine SP0733, LD 1818||Law and Governance||April 1, 2010|
|"Resolve, To Evaluate Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State": Maine SP0163 / LD 460||Law and Governance||April 23, 2009|
|Maine Sand Dune Rules||Law and Governance||June 8, 2006|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Maine Won’t Wait||Coastal, Energy, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Transportation, Frontline Communities, Water infrastructure||December 1, 2020|
|Maine Prepares for Climate Change: 2019 Update||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land use and built environment, Public health, Transportation, Water infrastructure||January 2019|
|Maine Wildlife Action Plan||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation, Wildlife||September 2015|
|Climate Change and Transportation in Maine||Land use and built environment, Transportation||October 14, 2009|
|A Climate Action Plan for Maine 2004||Energy, Forestry||December 1, 2004|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Maine Climate Adaptation Toolkit||Data and tools||October 26, 2015|
|Climate Change Adaptation Report: Georgetown, Maine||Assessments||May 2015|
|Maine's Climate Future: 2015 Update||Assessments||February 2015|
|Damariscotta, Maine Adaptation Planning Study: Downtown Waterfront Area||Assessments||February 2015|
|Monitoring, Mapping, Modeling, Mitigation, and Messaging: Maine Prepares for Climate Change||Monitoring and Reporting||September 2014|
|Vulnerability Assessment for the Saco Bay, Maine Communities of Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Scarborough – Vulnerable Transportation Infrastructure||Assessments||April 13, 2011|
|Sea Level Rise and Potential Impacts by the Year 2100: A Vulnerability Assessment for Saco Bay Communities of Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough - Maine||Assessments||December 31, 2010|
|People and Nature Adapting to a Changing Climate: Charting Maine's Course||Planning||February 2010|
|Maine's Climate Future: An Initial Assessment||Assessments||April 2009|
|Maine Department of Transportation – Bridge Scour Management||Solutions|