The state’s largest wildlife conservation organization commends the commissioners of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission for their 6-1 decision today to deny a permit for a controversial wind-power project sited in a high-mountain Western Maine area zoned for protection and home to rare wildlife.
“Today we have seen LURC’s commissioners take action for which all Maine citizens can be grateful: They have upheld the laws that protect unique, spectacular areas in Maine,” said Jennifer Burns, staff attorney and advocate for Maine Audubon.
Maine law requires LURC to insure that development within its jurisdiction is consistent with its Comprehensive Land Use Plan and relevant legal standards.
Maine Audubon joined with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy last week in calling for LURC commissioners to reject LURC staff’s recommendation to approve a 30-turbine wind-power project proposed by Maine Mountain Power, LLC, a joint venture of California- and Maine-based companies.
The organizations said the recommendation conflicted with the commission’s legal obligations and with core planning and zoning principles LURC commissioners have championed
The commissioners’ vote today made it clear they agreed.
Burns reiterated Maine Audubon’s support for Maine wind-power projects that are sited in appropriate places where they do not threaten high-value habitat and rare species.
“In no way does this decision prevent Maine from developing wind-power projects in appropriate places,” she said. “There are promising projects now in the planning stages that can bring wind power to Maine as a source of clean, renewable energy.”
Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist Jody Jones said the organization will continue working with wind-power developers and other stakeholders to help make it easier for developers to consider the needs of wildlife in their planning.
One desired outcome of that work is standard, statewide guidelines that would make it easier for the state to approve, with far fewer conflicts, wind power projects in areas of Maine that make sense.
“We said all along that our goal was not to stop wind-power development in Maine–but to stop this particular, inappropriate project,” Jones said.
Maine Audubon was an intervenor this summer in LURC’s public hearings, opposing the project because of concerns that included:
* Thirty 400-foot spinning turbines, power lines and 11 miles of road at high elevations were proposed in the heart of one of Maine’s wildest mountain regions.
* The project lay within 10 miles of 10 of Maine’s 14 peaks above 4,000 feet in elevation.
* Two of Maine’s rare species depend on the mountain habitat.
* More migrating birds pass through the area than at any site in the Northeast proposed for wind power projects. Wind-power projects sited in migratory pathways have killed birds and bats by the thousands.
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