FILE - climate change green energy

(The Center Square) – Maine cities and towns are getting another tranche of federal money from the state to help harden their infrastructure against the impact of climate change.

The state Department of Transportation this week awarded more than $20 million in grants to 13 communities across the state to improve their resilience against the effects of flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme storms.

Funding for the grants, which comes from the state's share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, is being distributed through Maine's Infrastructure Adaptation Fund. Maine has received more than $2.4 billion in ARPA funds for climate change initiatives.

Gov. Janet Mills said the spending will help communities "strengthen their infrastructure to better deal with the impacts of climate change, improving the safety of their towns."

Winslow Town Manager Erica LaCroix said cities and towns are feeling the impact of climate change but a shortage of funding has prevented them from the necessary upgrades to harden their infrastructure. She said the town will be getting more than $2.7 million in funding through the new program which will be used to upgrade its stormwater system.

"The increased severity of storms has surpassed the capacity of our aging stormwater system, and businesses and residents have suffered significant losses as a result," she said.

One of the biggest grants will be going to Boothbay Harbor, which is getting more than $4.15 million for upgrades to a regional wastewater treatment facility to protect against damage from sea level rise and storm surges. Bath is getting $4 million through the grant program to help improve drainage systems across the city, according to the Mills administration.

Maine has set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and has been diverting tens of millions of dollars of state and federal money to expand renewable energy and harden the state's public infrastructure to the impacts of climate change.

Republicans have criticized the Mills administration's aggressive spending on environmental initiatives, arguing that initiatives such as adding solar panels on the governor's mansion are driving up the state's debt while doing little to blunt the impact of climate change.