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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As I’ve watched recent events unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, in Nashville and in Boston, we are reminded of how important it is to be prepared.

We can’t always predict how or when dangerous events will unfold.

The oil spill in the Gulf is of enormous proportions. The flooding in Nashville has claimed lives. And much of Boston was forced to boil water after a massive pipe leak.

In Maine, we’re used to strong winter storms and heavy spring rains. We know how to deal with them, and Maine people know how to overcome the challenges they bring.

But on occasion, the rains can be too much. The ice can be too heavy. The winds can be too strong.

And we must deal with emergencies that put lives and property at risk.

It’s the work we do when the weather is calm that sets the stage for success.

At the end of April, the Maine Emergency Management Agency held its Emergency Preparedness Conference.

The event brought together first responders, school personnel, business leaders and volunteer agencies.

And the work they did put Maine in a better position to prevent disasters and respond when they occur.

I’m proud of the work done by the MEMA.

During an emergency, MEMA coordinates our response by bringing together all the assets of State government and working hand-in-hand with the private sector.

Last weekend, a major water main broke in the Boston area. Drinking water was in short supply and about 2 million residents were warned to either boil water before using it or use bottled water.

Our neighbors to the South were in trouble. Through cooperative agreements with Maine, they reached out for help.

MEMA was able to put Massachusetts responders into contact with our private-sector partners – Poland Spring and Hannaford.

And just like they have done countless times in Maine, these companies responded to neighbors in need with water to help Boston get through the crisis.

In the Gulf Coast, the true extent of the damage caused by the explosion and sinking of an oil platform won’t be known for some time.

But the impact -- to important ecosystems, to the economy and to the people’s way of life -- is already being felt.

Maine stands ready to respond and offer any assistance we can to support clean-up and response efforts.

Through a national cooperative system, during an emergency with other States, they can request help.

When the call comes, Maine is prepared to answer.

In March, Maine worked cooperatively with the federal government, the United States Coast Guard and other local, regional and private-sector partners on a disaster exercise.

The scenario will sound unfortunately familiar.

The exercise tested the response to a major oil spill that affected multiple states, creating extensive environmental, economic, public health and political challenges.

The lessons learned off Maine’s coast in March are being put to work in the Gulf right now.

The enormity of this disaster is hard to grasp.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and MEMA are active in planning potential assistance.

And the Portland-based Maine Responder, a 208-foot-long ship that can skim oil off the water is en route to the Gulf.

This is a national disaster, and it is going to require a national response.

While it’s important that we prepare for disasters, it’s equally important that we look at ways to prevent them.

Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to both environmental and economic disasters.

As much as I believe that Maine and the United States must end our dependency on oil, it remains an important part of economy – particularly in the short-term.

Portland is the second busiest oil port on the East Coast, and 80 percent of Maine’s homes rely on oil for heat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way in the future.

During my administration, I have aggressively pursued policies that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help us to develop alternative sources of energy.

On Tuesday, we’ll celebrate important work accomplished to make Maine’s energy future more secure.

Legislation passed this year will make it easier and more affordable for homeowners to reduce their energy costs, make our electrical grid more efficient, and support efforts to develop Maine-based renewable energy.

Maine has demonstrated, time and time again, that we understand the urgency of change.

We lead New England in the production of wind power and have tremendous opportunities off shore to generate wind and tidal power.

Those sources are safe and clean, reducing the amount of oil we need, and we will attract billions of dollars of investment.

We’ll have a cleaner environment.

Local sources of energy.

And thousands of new, green jobs.

Just like preparation is the key to responding to a disaster, preparation is critical to transforming Maine’s energy future.

Maine is ready.

Thank you and have a great weekend. And happy Mother’s Day.

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