Maine Seeks to Dismiss Climate Change Lawsuit 

CLF, Sierra Club, and Maine Youth Action sued Maine for breaking the 2019 Climate Law

A view of the statehouse against the clear sky.

Maine State House. Photo: Wangkun Jia via Shutterstock

June 21, 2024 (Portland, ME) – Maine has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Maine Youth Action (MYA), and Sierra Club that would force the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to cut carbon emissions as required by the law. CLF released the following statement in response. 

“Maine would be better served by spending its time and resources to implement our climate law, rather than attempting to dismiss our lawsuit before we get a day in court,” said Emily K. Green, Senior Attorney for CLF Maine. “The Gulf of Maine is rapidly rising and warming, we’re continuing to see extreme weather events, our fisheries are dying, and our winter is disappearing. The state has a legal obligation to live up to its own climate law but does not have the political will to do so. Our lawsuit is straightforward – we want Maine to take the action it is legally obligated to take. Maine families and businesses are counting on state leaders to cut carbon pollution from cars, buildings, and energy systems to ensure we have clean air to breathe and a climate that supports our economy and outdoor traditions.”

The motion to dismiss comes after CLF, MYA, and Sierra Club filed its lawsuit in April. The groups sued following the DEP’s failure to act even as climate change threatens livelihoods, coastal communities, and health.  

Maine’s legislature and governor approved the Climate Law in 2019, requiring Maine to slash climate-damaging emissions 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 – reductions lawmakers and climate experts said were necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Since that time, the state has failed to enact emission regulations for buildings, has approved plans for more highway miles that will add to, not reduce, emissions from cars and trucks, and seen repeated delays in construction of offshore wind. But the failure in curbing emissions from cars and trucks – Maine’s biggest source of pollution – has been stark.  

The suit targets both the DEP and Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) after the BEP rejected regulations in March requiring that clean electric vehicles make up the majority of new car sales by 2030. Similar rules have passed in neighboring states and would have resulted in dramatic cuts to emissions and better health for Mainers.  

Instead, the DEP and BEP have failed to adopt a single policy to cut emissions from transportation, despite their own assertions that cutting transportation emissions is crucial to Maine’s climate future.