Liberals Kill Bill to Provide Mainers with Affordable Heating Options

April 4, 2014

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 4 Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

Democrats would rather use timber harvest money to build trails AUGUSTA – After one of Maine’s most bitter cold winters, liberal legislators killed a Governor’s bill aimed at lowering heating costs for Mainers.

“Many Maine households are struggling to pay their heating bills this winter,” said Governor LePage. “We should be working together to help Mainers invest in better heating options, such as wood pellets, natural gas, highly efficient oil systems or heat pumps. Once again, liberal politicians are not looking out for the best interests of Mainers. We can both sustainably harvest our public lands and provide resources to help Mainers affordably heat their homes. Instead, Democrats who opposed my bill said they would rather see the timber revenue used on trails and boundary lines in Maine’s public forests. That is the wrong priority for Mainers trying to stay warm.”

Governor Paul R. LePage introduced LD 1838, “An Act To Expand Affordable Heating Investments with Maine's Public Resources,” with hopes of using extra revenue from an increased timber harvest on State land to help Mainers install alternative heating systems in their homes.

Senator Edward Youngblood sponsored the emergency legislation, which would use the increased revenue of an expanded timber harvest to help Mainers install or upgrade systems that would reduce the cost of heating their homes. The bill was shot down by liberal politicians in the Maine Senate late Thursday, then it was defeated Friday in the Maine House of Representatives.

Background: On March 1, 2014 the Bureau of Public Lands presented the Fiscal Year 2013 to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and outlined the long-term plan to increase the harvest cut on public lands. The Bureau found it could increase the number of cords harvested from the current annual allowable cut (AAC) of 114,500 cords per year to 180,000 cords per year.

In addition, the harvest has been increasing in recent years. The average harvest from 2002-13 was roughly 100,000 cords per year. As a result, the increase of harvesting, in combination with higher prices, has resulted in increased revenue for the Bureau. The Bureau determined that a transfer of $500,000 from the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund would be possible now, and then a transfer of roughly $1 million could be made on an annual basis.

The Governor’s Office proposed that the increase of revenue be provided to assist Mainers upgrade their heating systems. The transfer of $500,000 a year would be done in FY2013, another $500,000 would be done in 2015, and then $1 million could be transferred in future fiscal years.