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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week, Maine hosted an historic event.

Five eastern Canadian Premiers and five New England governors met to work on some of the most challenging issues facing our region.

We came together in a spirit of cooperation, had frank discussions about our shared goals and opportunities and also challenges, and we built momentum that will carry our region forward.

As chairman of the New England Governors’ Conference, I led this meeting along with New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who co-chaired the conference.

Much was accomplished.

Together, we adopted eight resolutions on issues ranging from climate change and global warming to energy independence and demographics.

But our efforts were not limited to the resolutions that were passed.

After presentations by some of the regions leading experts on energy, transportation, the environment and economic development, we committed as a group to looking for common solutions that would benefit all of our people as we work toward a more secure and sustainable future.

Too often in the past, our region has been divided. We import too many of our resources and export too many of our jobs, and we must be able to understand to fully cooperate will help to resolve the problems that we all share.

Most of New England and Eastern Canada is dangerously dependent on oil.

High prices threaten our economy, our jobs and our people.

But the instability also leaves us at the mercy of other countries that do not have the best interest of Maine – or the United States and Canada – in mind.

We know that we must end this dependency through generation of electricity from renewable sources, domestic sources and also through conservation and energy efficiency.

New England and Eastern Canada are uniquely positioned to take advantage of tremendous wind, hydro, bio-fuels and tidal power to meet our electricity needs.

But acting alone, none of us can truly reach our potential.

We must develop new transmission capacity that serves both generation projects in New England and improves the capacity to move renewable, green power from Canada into the United States.

In the past, the parochial interests of individual states and provinces have undermined our ability to act cooperatively.

Maine has not faired well as a member of the ISO New England, which runs our regional power grid. Our costs are too high, and we are not able to take full advantage of the electricity we produce instate.

So we are currently investigating our options to determine whether we should continue our membership or set a new path.

But what was confirmed on Tuesday is that the six Canadian provinces and the five New England states are ready for a new era of cooperation.

The principle that guides us all is the desire to do what’s right for our people.

Regionally, we have the potential to become energy self-sufficient, introduce price stability into the electricity market, and benefitting our businesses and families will also allow our economies to grow more quickly.

To get there, however, our decisions must be guided by objective economic analysis. Any effort, whether it’s building new generation or new transmission capacity, must benefit our region as a whole.

We must all share in the benefits because we all share in the cost.

And we must act responsibly with an eye toward sustainability and improving our environment.

I’m proud of what we have accomplished this week. We have tremendous potential and we cannot let the momentum be lost.

Taking our time is important, but remember that our economies, our cultures, and our future are all linked together for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you, and have a nice weekend.

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