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Gorham awarded grant to address effects of climate change

GORHAM, ME (October 6, 2023) — The Town of Gorham received notification on October 2, 2023 that its application for the State of Maine’s Community Action Grant, submitted to the Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation and Future (GOPIF) for funding of eligible projects in the State’s Climate Action Plan, was awarded in the amount of $50,000.

The project that the Town will undertake to address effects of climate change will be to upgrade stormwater infrastructure at the Municipal Center parking lot to improve water quality, maintain building and parking infrastructure to key town services, ensure continued stormwater runoff control during future flooding events, and provide educational opportunities. The project will install a FocalPoint system, which is a high performance modular biofiltration system that fits as a low-impact design standard best management practice. This method utilizes natural systems to remove pollutants and provide water quality control in an urban environment to minimize impact to development.

Not only will this project upgrade essential municipal infrastructure, but it will also showcase new stormwater treatment technology in a highly visible location. Raising awareness of the potential for improved stormwater treatment systems will aid in promoting additional retrofits in other locations in Gorham. This will also raise awareness of the draft Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance, planned for adoption in July 2024.

The Town’s application was made possible through the hard work and efforts of Town staff and support by the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), who assisted the Town with information gathering and technical support for completing necessary steps to enroll in the State of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership.

The Mills Administration awarded $2.4 million to 53 communities across Maine to address climate change effects through investments to improve energy efficiency, transition to clean energy, expand local and regional planning capacity, and protect infrastructure from damaging storms or rising sea levels.

These awards to Maine cities, towns and Tribal governments are through the state’s Community Resilience Partnership, which helps communities plan for climate change, reduce carbon emissions, and increase resilience to climate effects.

Since the program was first announced by Governor Mills in December 2021, some 174 cities, towns and Tribal governments in Maine have chosen to participate in the Partnership either as individual entities or in regional coalitions. Since inception, the program has awarded nearly $6.1 million to 103 communities.

“Maine’s work to address climate change is reducing costs for Maine people, creating new jobs and career opportunities, strengthening our communities, and protecting our precious environment,” said Governor Mills. “I am proud that Maine people have followed the bold vision we outlined in our climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, to transition to clean energy and to ensure that their communities can withstand the effects of climate change.”

“Through the Community Resilience Partnership, 174 communities across Maine are working to transition to clean energy, strengthen their critical infrastructure to withstand the impacts of climate change, and plan for future climate investments and actions based on local priorities,” said Hannah Pingree and Melanie Loyzim, co-chairs of the Maine Climate Council. “We are grateful for the efforts of our community and regional partners on this program and look forward to continuing to advance local and regional climate solutions with them into the future.”

“Governor Mills’ climate action plan is a blueprint for a better Maine future,” said Cathy Conlow, Executive Director of the Maine Municipal Association. “The Community Resilience Partnership is meeting communities where they are on the path to climate resiliency and supplies municipal leaders with the resources they need to be innovators, all to ensure that Maine towns and cities have the opportunity to create a sustainable tomorrow.”

Besides the Gorham award, other grantees during this round include:

Penobscot Nation to launch a Wabanaki workforce development initiative that will grow the community’s ability to offer residential energy efficiency services.

Long Island for a groundwater sustainability study to help the town understand the effects of climate change on its drinking water supply.

Camden for a sea level rise and storm surge resiliency project that will produce engineering and designs so the town can apply for construction funds to improve the public landing.

Fryeburg to initiate a composting pilot program to prevent GHG emissions from food waste as well as to conserve 74 acres of the Town Forest and build an outdoor learning pavilion to create environmental education opportunities for the town’s students.

“This grant will provide the Penobscot Nation the opportunity to generate workforce development and assist Tribal Citizen’s with improving the energy efficiency of their homes and reducing our carbon footprint on our traditional homelands,” said Gary Fearon, Director of Housing, Penobscot Nation.

“The Town of Camden is appreciative of Maine’s leadership on climate action and the Community Resilience Partnership’s support for our efforts to make the Camden Public Landing resilient to the impacts of sea level rise and storm surge,” said Jeremy Martin, Planning & Development Director, Town of Camden. “The Town has made significant, costly, and repeated repairs to our landing due to the impacts of intense storms and sea level rise. This funding will ensure the Public Landing is redesigned to be resilient and sustainable for the long-term.”

“The Town of Long Island is thrilled to be awarded a Community Resilience Partnership grant from the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future,” said Brian L. Dudley, Town Administrator, Town of Long Island. “Climate change and rising sea levels are impacting all of Maine, especially our unbridged islands. Water resource management is crucial to our island community, and this grant will allow us to examine the impacts on our water supply, both in terms of its quality and quantity.

“Fryeburg is very excited to be the recipient of a Community Action Grant,” said Katie Haley, Town Manager, Town of Fryeburg. “The projects that will transpire as a result of this grant are varied, but each is equally important to the Town and our residents as we work to support the Maine Won’t Wait climate plan.”

The full list of grant recipients and participating communities is available here (PDF).

This award announcement was made Friday during a meeting of the Maine Climate Council, a 39-member assembly of scientists, industry leaders, bipartisan local and state officials, and citizens created by Governor Janet Mills in 2019 and charged with developing and updating a comprehensive climate action plan for Maine.

Following an extensive public process, the Council delivered its first four-year plan to prepare for and mitigate effects of climate change on Maine, Maine Won’t Wait, to Governor Mills on December 1, 2020.

By law, the Council must deliver an updated four-year climate plan by Dec. 1, 2024. Work on this updated plan will be supported in part by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Since 2019, the Mills Administration has prioritized the fight against climate change in Maine through actions to reduce carbon emissions, transition to renewable energy, and make Maine communities more resilient to climate effects.

With bipartisan support of the Legislature, Maine in 2019 enacted laws setting ambitious targets for transitioning to renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These include reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Maine by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Governor Mills also pledged that Maine would become carbon-neutral by 2045, a commitment she signed into law in 2022. Earlier this year, the Governor committed to accelerating Maine’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

In July, White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi joined Governor Mills to celebrate a historic climate milestone for Maine: the state surpassing its goal of installing 100,000 new heat pumps two years early.

Governor Mills then set an ambitious new target of installing another 175,000 heat pumps in Maine by 2027, thereby bringing the number of heat pumps installed in Maine homes, businesses, and public buildings during her time in office to 275,000.

Governor Mills also serves as Co-Chair of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors committed to fighting climate change by reducing carbon emissions, advancing clean energy, and protecting people and the environment from the effects of the climate crisis.

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