PORTLAND, Maine -- Environment Maine launched a new campaign Thursday calling for state and federal lawmakers to expand electric vehicle infrastructure on Maine’s state parks and public lands. With transportation emissions as the top polluting sector of our economy, the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) is critical for protecting public health and the environment from global warming pollution. Specifically, the Recharge Where You Recharge campaign is calling for the installation of at least two EV chargers in each of Maine’s state parks.
“Mainers should not have to choose between having an electric vehicle and visiting the parks they love,” said Environment Maine State Director Anya Fetcher. “If we have any hope of meeting the state’s climate goals and transitioning to cleaner modes of transportation, people need to feel confident driving across the state in an EV. By expanding the charging infrastructure in Maine to include the places we escape to, we can allow the people, who are doing their part for nature by driving EVs, to ensure they have the battery power to journey to our majestic outdoor spaces -- and back home again.”
Maine is already investing in building out an EV charging network. However, to support 110,000 electric vehicles -- only half of the state’s 2030 goal -- at least 2,200 public level 2 charging plugs, which connect to all EV models and offer an average of 25 miles per hour of charging, must be installed. Currently, the state has made more than 521 charging plugs available, but very few exist at state parks or on other public lands.
The governor’s office and the Maine Department of Transportation have collaborated with Efficiency Maine to use Volkswagen settlement funds to install EV charging stations in communities across the state. Since 2018, Efficiency Maine has issued grants to help Maine municipalities and businesses install more than 150 new plugs in Maine’s public EV charging network. Early discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) about installation of EV chargers at state parks have been promising.
As COVID-19 has constrained the state budget, Environment Maine recognizes that private companies must play a role to “step up and sponsor EV chargers on state lands.” Nationally, BMW of North America has donated 100 electric car chargers to the national parks between 2017 and 2019. Environment Maine’s new campaign is seeking similar funding from large businesses for the Pine Tree State.
According to the Maine DACF, Mainers went to state parks in record numbers during the pandemic. Even with delayed openings and capacity, and out-of-state travel limitations, more than 3 million people visited Maine state parks in 2020. The increased visitation underscores the need to electrify the way Mainers reach the outdoors in order to tackle global warming emissions.
“We believe the outdoors are empowering, and we aim to make every visit to a state park or public land as enjoyable and accessible as possible,” said Maine DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. “And we believe in powering a greener, cleaner Maine. In the coming years, we intend to reshape our parks by updating infrastructure. We hope that part of this update will include adding public charging EV stations at state parks across Maine.”
The new campaign offers a win-win for the state: Fewer emissions for the planet and more resources for Maine’s parks.
“Our wild spaces are a major reason people live in and visit Maine. It shouldn’t be difficult to get to those places in an EV,” Fetcher said. “We need to make getting to our parks easier and we must electrify the way we travel to prevent pollution and a warming climate - and to protect the lands we cherish.”
Environment Maine is a citizen based advocacy organization that works to protect our clean air, water, open spaces, and a liveable climate.