Omnibus Energy Bill is Left Hanging in the Balance
The Omnibus Energy bill, explained here, confronts the fact that energy in Maine costs more than in the rest of the country. An article from the Portland Press Herald quoting House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette states, “This bill will reduce the cost of energy in Maine by at least $200 M. a year. It will […] keep people employed and allow for future economic development in the state of Maine.”
Though the bill passed easily through the House and Senate, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed it last week within four minutes of the expiration of his ability to veto. Shortly afterward, he was overridden by the House of Representatives, but must also be by the Senate for the bill to become law.
The bill was vetoed on obscure, arbitrary rational that wasn’t part of the debate, and completely undermines the spirit of bipartisanship in Maine.
However, according to this article from the Maine Senate, in the short time leading up to the Governor’s veto, he and his staff amended a bill to include a provision that would have threatened the Ocean Energy Act, which is already a signed agreement between the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Statoil North America, and the University of Maine at Orono. The Ocean Energy Act is expected bring $120 M. into Maine from investment into an offshore wind farm. Not only has the Governor endangered a pivotal policy for Maine energy, he’s also attempting to deny Maine a multi-million dollar investment that has potential for long-term employment for over 800 workers.
The Omnibus Energy bill returns to the Senate tonight, and is expected to yield the same nearly uncontested results, unless the Governor’s strong-arm tactics compel legislators to change their votes.