Governor LePage: Wind Turbines Damaging Maine's Quality of Life and Mountains"

June 18, 2011

Governor takes town hall meeting to Rockport

About 250 people turn out for his fifth Capitol for a Day event since his inauguration.

By Susan M. Cover
MaineToday Media State House Writer


ROCKPORT - Gov. Paul LePage talked about windmills, methadone clinics, taxes, child support and welfare programs Friday night before a feisty crowd of supporters and opponents.



At his fifth Capitol for a Day town hall meeting since his inauguration in January, the Republican governor fielded questions at Camden Hills Regional High School. He was greeted by many people wearing "61%" stickers -- a reference to the percentage of voters who did not support him last fall -- and a strong contingent of supporters with LePage T-shirts and buttons.

The crowd, estimated at 250 people, yelled back at LePage a few times, prompting his press secretary to remind the audience to be respectful.

One exchange came early in the event, when a woman asked him why he doesn't think it is discriminatory to reduce welfare benefits for legal noncitizens. LePage said that, with limited resources, he wants to take care of Maine people first.

When the woman yelled back that the immigrants are here legally, LePage responded by saying: "My answer stands. I will feed Maine people before I feed foreigners."

After questions about why the state doesn't provide bus service or an expanded road system, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin stepped in.

"We have to make sure we realize our state is broke," he said. "We have no new money."

A man yelled: "Raise taxes!"

That prompted LePage to list statistics about higher incomes in nearby states. "We have the oldest state in the country," he said. "The highest number of people on fixed incomes. Sir, that's not the answer!"

LePage's response prompted some to rise for a standing ovation.

The governor was joined on the high school stage by several Cabinet members, including Pattie Aho, who was chosen by the governor Friday to be acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

While LePage spent much of the day traveling to Knox County businesses, he also vetoed three more bills. All were resolves that called for the Department of Health and Human Services to do studies or create programs.

At the town hall meeting, LePage said he's working with DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew to make methadone clinics more effective. And he spoke of the need for the Legislature to pass tougher laws against domestic violence and deadbeat dads.

"In the state of Maine, in the last two weeks, we had two children in the morgue, two mothers in the morgue, and two fathers who blew their brains out," he said. "The problem in the state of Maine is, the laws are too lenient. I tried to make changes and the Legislature didn't want to make them."

When asked what he will do to reduce the state's dependence on foreign oil, LePage said he's concerned about a directive he received recently from the federal government regarding heating with wood.

He said his daily briefing book included a message from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, warning that it may soon crack down on states that rely heavily on wood to heat homes.

"That is one law, if the EPA put in, I will disobey," he said.

LePage continued to criticize the state's wind power industry, saying windmills are hurting the state's quality of life.

"They are doing an awful lot of damage to our quality of life, our mountains," he said. "I don't think it's going to lower the cost of energy. I think in 10 years we're going to be like Sweden and Denmark and we're going to be swearing at ourselves."

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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