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February 6, 2013 | last updated February 6, 2013 11:23 am

LePage calls for fast-tracking natural gas

Gov. Paul LePage delivered his second State of the State speech last night, staking out familiar policy positions on education, energy and domestic violence.

LePage told the newly elected Democratic Legislature that he hopes to reduce the cost of doing business in Maine, primarily by reducing the cost of energy in the state.

In line with that goal, LePage said he plans to fast-track regulatory approval for development of natural gas infrastructure in the state. Patrick Woodcock, director of LePage's energy office, told the Bangor Daily News that the governor will use past Gov. John Baldacci's Wind Energy Act, which sped up windpower development, as a model for speeding up approval for natural gas infrastructure projects.

(View or read the entire speech in MPBN video or text.)

LePage also reiterated his opposition to limits set in the state's renewable energy portfolio standard. The renewable portfolio standard, which requires power companies to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, puts no limit on the amount of wind power that can account for the total requirement while placing generation limits on other sources of power. Tuesday night, LePage reiterated his opposition to those limits and to a recent decision to allow Statoil's offshore wind power project to move ahead.

On education, the governor showed continued support for charter schools and proposed that the state enact a rating system for public schools in which each school would receive its own grade — A to F — that is issued by the state's Department of Education.

On domestic violence, the governor said he plans to sign an executive order today forming a task force to study a requirement that people convicted of domestic abuse crimes surrender any firearms.

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