March 18, 2021 by Sarah Hinckley
MOUNT DESERT — As Maine lobster fishermen are working to navigate regulations for the safety of right whales and the effects of global warming on the industry, they are now being asked to share their territory with wind turbines.
“There’s so many different reasons to oppose it,” said Jack Merrill, a resident of Mount Desert and a member of the Cranberry Isles Fishermen’s Co-op who has made his living as a lobster fisherman for the last 45 years. “They’re humongous. They just dwarf everything we’ve ever seen on the water. Every time they come out with a new plan, they just keep getting bigger and bigger.”
In an effort to meet Maine’s requirement of 80 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and the goal of 100 percent by 2050, there is a project being proposed to research offshore wind energy by installing up to 12 floating wind turbines in a 16-square-mile area, 20-40 miles off the coast.
To put that into perspective, the land area of Swan’s Island is 12 square miles.
Recently, fisherman Jason Joyce, a resident of Swan’s Island, circulated a petition in support of LD 101, a bill introduced before the Legislature this January that prohibits offshore wind energy development in the first three miles from shore, also called state waters.
“It prevents permitting of wind development in state waters and prevents permitting of cables/equipment from offshore wind development in federal waters from being installed in state waters as well,” Joyce wrote in an email to the Islander.
Wording in LD 101 states, under the bill, the term “offshore wind energy development project” includes community-based offshore wind energy projects, deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects, offshore wind energy demonstration projects and offshore wind power projects, which are all categories of projects currently authorized by law.
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‘They aren’t used to losing’: wealthy New York enclave battles over offshore windfarm
............“It’s rare to have extreme objections to renewables,” said Sanya Carley, an Indiana University academic who has studied the issue. “There are pockets of resistance, though, and more so with offshore wind because it’s new. People haven’t had to confront the idea of seeing a turbine in the ocean before.”
Delaying any sort of project is easier, of course, if you have deep pockets, such is the case in Wainscott. State and federal approvals are still needed for the South Fork wind farm and further legal cases could push back the development further.
“My hope is that the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott folds its tent and goes away,” said Mulligan, the pro-wind retired lawyer. “But some of these people have big bucks and they aren’t used to losing. So who knows.”
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