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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

When we think of the opportunities and challenges facing Maine, it’s easy to forget that our State is part of a much larger region.

Like here in Maine, our neighbors in New England and the Eastern Canadian provinces have been fighting the effects of the international recession.

Now, as many indicators suggest that the recession is beginning to ease, we still have a long way to go. We stand ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

One thing is clear: When we are able to act with common purpose as a region, we are stronger.

On Tuesday, I was the co-chairman of an important meeting of New England Governors, Eastern Canadian Premiers and their representatives.

Our agenda included critical issues facing our region, ranging from new opportunities in the energy sector, to climate change and pandemic flu preparation.

Throughout the day, there was a healthy exchange of ideas and information.

And we heard from some of the leading thinkers in the private sector.

Men and women who are putting their ideas of a new, green economy and a third industrial revolution into practice.

A common question, asked many different ways, ran through the day.

What actions can we take to create prosperity for our people and improve our economies?

In short, there was no single answer, no silver bullet that will address all the issues we face.

But there was one, overriding conclusion.

While each of us as states face challenges and unique circumstances, we all benefit when we approach issues together.

Eastern Canada and New England are linked by common borders and a shared culture and heritage.

The ties among us date back to our earliest days, as goods and people moved along our borders.

That same cooperation and the strong bonds that still exist are an asset that must be developed.

In some areas, close relationships are easier than in others.

For example, this week the Maine Emergency Management Agency conducted a joint drill with their partner agencies in New England and Canada.

The purpose was to make sure that if disaster strikes, we will be able to integrate our response and depend upon one another for help.

But in other areas, cooperation is more difficult.

In the past, our region was too easily pulled into competition with itself.

And there remain issues on which a regional consensus might not be possible.

But when we work together, we can all benefit.

For example, Maine, New England and Eastern Canada have tremendous natural resources.

Together, we hold the promise of leading our countries in the development of renewable energy.

We have wind, tidal, hydro-electric and biomass resources that are the envy of the world.

We can reduce our dependency on foreign oil, improve our environment and help to address global climate change.

I’m very proud of the work that has been done on this issue.

During the meeting, we presented the New England Governors’ Renewable Energy Blueprint.

This Blueprint is an important tool that will help us advance the development of renewable energy in New England.

The report also demonstrates the necessity of partnerships both within our region and with the federal government.

Maine and New England have the cost-effective, low-carbon energy resources that we need to break our dependency on foreign oil.

There are challenges, not the least of which is the necessary investment in transmission capacity.

But if we work together as a region, Maine, New England and Eastern Canada will have the best opportunity to determine our own energy future.

If we allow cooperation to be derailed, then we will allow others to dictate our policies to us, and continue down a road where we pay higher prices for all kinds of energy.

Right now, Midwestern states are working together to build an enormous and costly power line from their region to the East Coast.

Estimates place the cost on the project between $80 billion dollars and $160 billion dollars.

With our intra-region resources we can meet the same power needs at a fraction of the cost.

Early estimates suggest we could bring the same amount of energy to the same market for no more than $20 billion dollars.

That translates into billions of dollars of savings for taxpayers and ratepayers.

It means a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for all of North America.

But the opportunities we have are not guaranteed.

We have to be smart, bold and flexible.

And if we make the right decisions, we will be in control of our energy future.

If, instead, we opt for division, fear and internal competition, we will find that others have gained the upper hand.

Then our energy policy will be dictated to us by others, and the potential for new jobs, new investments and a new energy future will be lost.

I am confident after meeting with my counterparts from New England and Eastern Canada that the strengths we share far outweigh the differences amongst us.

By working together, we can all enjoy increased prosperity.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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