In 2007, America was entangled in war with Iraq. Facing high oil and gasoline prices at home, Governor John Baldacci was concerned for Maine’s energy future. In the preceding few years, three grid-scale wind energy projects were proposed under Maine’s site location permitting process. Two projects (Mars Hill and Kibby) were approved; the third was fraught with problems, and so it was denied. In all three cases, Maine’s traditional permitting process worked, but potential wind developers were unhappy about the case that was denied.
Wind developers and well-intentioned conservation groups saw an opportunity. Together they urged Baldacci to assemble a task force that would make permitting easier for wind energy applicants, made urgent by the world’s political and economic oil crisis. Energy experts were skeptical about the charge, pointing out that Maine had already “gotten off oil” for electricity generation purposes, and that despite popular opinion, wind energy was in fact low benefit and high impact.
The task force was dominated by people with strong ties to the wind industry. Their “solution” to the oil crisis/wind opposition “problem” was to provide a special zoning and permitting process for wind energy projects: Maine’s Wind Law. It passed without debate by unanimous votes in the House and Senate.
As mentioned in last week’s Islander article by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the Wind Law is so slanted in favor of the wind developers and so slanted against the citizens of Maine that the Maine Office of Energy and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection have recommended that the law be modified. In more than 20 attempts, frustrated citizens and conservation groups have gone to Augusta submitting bills to modify the law – but the legislature has refused to even consider them.
This is why we have started a citizens’ initiative!
This is not a wholesale repeal of the Wind Energy Act. The initiative will simply level the playing field and restore citizens’ rights.
A citizen’s initiative relies on citizen support for passage. If we get enough signatures, the petition will go to the Legislature for consideration. The Legislature may choose to enact it or send it to the voters as a ballot measure. The first step was getting the Secretary of State’s approval of the petition language. That step is complete and Maine citizens now can sign the petition that is being circulated.
We need to gather 50,000 signatures. Please help us.
If you’re ready to help, I can provide you with everything you need to know.
We want the initiative on the November ballot. Our deadline to collect all the necessary signatures is Jan. 22. Contact me at 354-0714 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
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