Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources vote unanimously to support funding for the Maine Climate Crops; program includes regenerative agriculture outreach and carbon sequestration

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AUGUSTA, Maine , March 7, 2022 (press release) –

The Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources voted unanimously, of those present, to support funding for the Maine Climate Corps, a program proposed in legislation sponsored by Rep. Morgan Rielly, D-Westbrook, that gained committee support last year.

LD 1974 would establish the Maine Climate Corps under the Maine Commission for Community Service, also known as Volunteer Maine, and provide General Fund appropriations to keep the program running as intended. If adequately funded, the program would help address the climate crisis while creating job opportunities in underserved communities.

This legislation complements LD 722, which directed Volunteer Maine and the Maine Climate Corp's Oversight Task Force to produce a report identifying priority projects for the program. Projects range from community resilience planning and home energy conservation management to carbon sequestration, regenerative agriculture outreach and installation of community solar.

"The Maine Climate Corps will serve communities for years to come by helping our state meet its climate mitigation goals, assisting our towns and neighbors with climate resiliency projects and allowing new generations of Mainers to participate in service programming," said Rielly. "I am thankful that my colleagues understand the importance of this program and support its creation."

"As our state works to mitigate the effects of climate change now and in the future, it will be critical to get more Mainers directly involved with those projects aimed at addressing these newfound challenges," said Sen. Stacy Brenner, D-Scarborough, who serves as chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. "The Maine Climate Corps will be an important resource for this goal, and I was proud to support Rep. Rielly's legislation establishing the program."

"Maine people feel a special attachment to our environment and unique outdoors," said Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford. "This bill gives Mainers the opportunity to work toward our collective interest. Such programs like this merit the support of all of us, regardless of party."

Additionally, LD 1974 authorizes funding for the Maine Service Fellows program, also sponsored by Rielly and signed into law last year. The program, a state-based rural service corps, would work in tandem with the Maine Climate Corps and is focused solely on rural communities that do not receive support from traditional service programming.

Rielly is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs. He represents a portion of Westbrook.

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