The euphemisms of pro-wind developers at a LURC hearing to add Kossuth Township to the expedited wind development zone highlight last fall offered a picture of disturbing political and financial alliances that scar Maine landscapes.
First Wind, a money-losing firm needing federal stimulus money for its projects, proposes to build turbines in the viewshed of the beautiful Downeast chain of lakes.
First Wind declared to LURC that the Downeast lakes would not be compromised by its development.
Yet, its petition does not refer to strong evidence of economic and ecological drawbacks to wind power.
The burden of proof should rest with First Wind to provide rigorous evidence it won’t harm rural communities, mountaintop ecosystems or birds.
First Wind utilizes Gov. John Baldacci’s short-sighted regulations that grease the skids for wind developers to erect inefficient, money-losing wind farms over cherished Maine’s landscapes.
Wind development in Maine has contributed to $2.5 trillion in debt amassed by the Obama administration.
Environmental and civic groups often support wind projects because developers like First Wind give them pre-permitting donations to insure their support.
At the meeting, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Baskahegan Land Co. capitulated to First Wind’s petition to expand the haphazard expedited wind development zone.
Maine Audubon received donations from First Wind, and has also ignored the fact that wind turbines kill huge numbers of birds.
The pro-industry American Wind Energy Association reports that each megawatt of installed wind-power kills between one and six birds annually.
The United States had 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines by 2009, and no fines to wind developers for roughly 100,000 annual bird deaths.
How long will this capitulation continue? The departing governor wants wind energy development on 25,000 to 50,000 acres of priceless Maine mountaintops. Mainers need look no further than Mars Hill to see what “green” development really looks like.
Roger Milliken of Baskahegan Land testified at the meeting.
Baskahegan stands to make lease money from First Wind, so I wasn’t surprised to hear Milliken’s slant.
But I was surprised by his short-sighted reasons, for Baskahegan’s record was once heralded for how timberlands could be sustainably managed.
Milliken cited Appalachian coal mines and the BP spill as reasons for wind turbines. Yet, he failed to divulge the rest of the tale.
First Wind claims that wind development would help the economy sounds similar to Appalachian coal miners trying to keep employment they already have.
Wind farms require only one permanent job for every 10 megawatts of installation. No turbine parts are made instate.
Increasing domestic wind production won’t reverse climate change. American coal is being exported to China, to whom we owe debt amassed in part to finance wind energy.
Coal that we won’t burn, China will, and thus global carbon emissions will be the same, with or without inefficient wind development.
Due to inconsistent and inefficient production, wind turbines need 100 percent back-up from energy sources like coal.
Milliken failed to mention that the Obama administration, which provides taxpayer-supported stimulus money to develop wind power in Maine, also gave BP critical exemptions to deepwater drilling one week before the well explosion.
Is it just coincidence that BP supported Obama’s campaign?
In the Rangeleys, Baldacci recently declared, “It’s all about that view. That view says, ‘Maine. It gives people an inspiration and it’s going to be that way forever.’ ”
His statements seemed unusually paradoxical coming from a man so aggressive at courting wind developers like First Wind and Iberdrola.
The latter company now demands a continuation of Maine policies (taxpayer subsidies) to bankroll wind development and upgrade transmission lines.
I wondered how Maine reached this precipice, where developers and politicians permanently scar beautiful Maine landscapes.
It seemed a strange twist for a state that had once prided itself on financially sound, aesthetically pleasing development, and even outlawed billboards decades ago.
I was reminded of Baldacci’s comments after the hearing, when I climbed atop a wild Maine mountain at the peak of leaf season.
The slate-gray skies of autumn seemed to pull brilliant fall colors to the far reaches of the horizon.
Gazing upon miles of lakes and forests, I too concluded that “It’s all about that view.’
And thanks to Baldacci, the future of that view is as uncertain as the legacy of the governor himself.
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