As reported in the BDN on Nov.10, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has just turned down an application by a billion-dollar Texas energy investor to install industrial-scale wind turbines on Passadumkeag Mountain, in rural Penobscot County.
This decision will protect the surrounding lakes and hills from visual pollution and the mountain itself from blasting, new road construction, long-term ecosystem damage and increased fire danger.
Courageously, the DEP decided to protect Maine’s invaluable quality of place, notwithstanding what must have been strong pressure from local and out-of-state business interests.
Some may think that NIMBY was the winner in this contest, the “not in my backyard” mentality. However, I think this represents an opportunity to move toward an energy policy that’s “right-sized” for Maine. For example, what if, instead of depending on mega-million-dollar energy initiatives, we invested in smaller, diversified projects that would train more energy auditors and employ more workers to insulate and retrofit Maine’s large stock of older homes? The result would be reduced use of fossil fuels, fewer people shivering in cold houses in the winter, less need for LIHEAP and years of jobs in virtually every community – far more than short-lived wind construction offers.
So let’s thank Maine’s DEP for the chance to catch our breath, rethink our energy priorities and move our state in a direction that can meet a multitude of energy-related objectives without sacrificing the incomparable quality of place on which we all depend.
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