Two bills were introduced in April that could restore rights to a segment of Maine’s unorganized territories residents, rights they lost to the 2008 makeover of the state’s wind power siting laws.
More than 99 percent of Mainers, in organized and unorganized areas, have input into the siting of wind power projects in their communities, how they’re sited or even whether they’re sited. Such input used to be available to 100 percent of Mainers.
At a hearing April 22, it was disappointing to hear two of the state’s largest environmental groups speak out against fairness for all citizens, urging legislators to continue the denial of our rights.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon were part of the process that put constraints on our community members, and here they were, lobbying to make sure that the constraints stay in place.
At issue is whether these rural Mainers can participate in siting matters prior to the permitting phase of wind developments.
Almost every Mainer has this right, including most of the staff, board and membership of these two groups. They just don’t want us to have it, fearing it might slow their push for more mountaintop wind development.
Instead, they want us to be limited to input only in a permitting hearing, a drastically reduced level of participation.
A permitting hearing is not a forum for the broader discussion of a community’s future. Most Mainers have the right to influence wind siting in their communities long before it reaches this final permitting phase. Five years ago, it was a basic right that every Mainer enjoyed.
The Natural Resources Council and Maine Audubon appear ready to work hard to keep some rural Mainers from having meaningful input into wind matters in their own communities. That’s disappointing. I expect that from corporate wind interests, not the Natural Resources Council and Maine Audubon.
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