We are petitioning the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to make rules to protect the common welfare from anthropogenic climate change pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. §8055(3) and the Department’s obligations under statutory law, the Maine and United States Constitutions, and the Public Trust Doctrine. Such rules are within the Department’s authority and are necessary in order to ensure that the worst impacts of climate change and ocean acidification are avoided and do not cause catastrophic and irreversible harm to present and future generations.
Text of the proposed rules and petition signatures, verified and certified pursuant to 21-A M.R.S.A. §354(7), were submitted to the Department simultaneously with the Petition.
The proposed rules seek greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 8 percent each year, which correlates to Maine reducing its emissions to approximately 75 percent below 2003 levels by the year 2035. This goal is necessary in order to meet the requirements of 38 M.R.S.A. § 576, which include achieving “reduction sufficient to eliminate any dangerous threat to the climate” and specifically describe attaining that long-term goal through “reduction to 75% to 80% below 2003 levels.”
The primary authority for the Department to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is 38 M.R.S.A. § 576 which sets goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The Act established a “lead by example” initiative for State government; set short, medium, and long-term targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions; mandated the creation of a Climate Action Plan; and established the Department’s authority to evaluate the State’s progress toward meeting the statutory reduction goals and to make recommendations to the Maine Legislature regarding adjustment of the reduction goals. Further statutory authority is provided by 38 M.R.S.A. §§ 341-A(1), 581, 582, 584, 585, 585-A, 585-B, 585-C, 575, 590, 601-B, 1301 et seq., and 1310-N.
The Department also has authority and obligations under the Maine and United States Constitutions. Article 1, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution states that people “have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” Under the terms of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, United States citizens have the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor be denied equal protection of the laws.