As a citizen living within the expedited permitting area, which was created during the crafting and passage of Maine’s Wind Energy Act of 2008, I take offense at the blatant misrepresentations in Jeremy Payne’s guest column (May 26).
The creation of the EPA summarily removed the rights of less than 1 percent of Mainers. Our communities were rezoned "industrial" (but for wind development only) without residents' knowledge or permission. To right that egregious wrong, residents have submitted a bill (LD 616) to the 126th Legislature to have their rights restored — rights which more than 99 percent of other fellow citizens still enjoy.
I live in rural Maine and there are hills and mountain summits that the wind industry covets. They didn’t want residents to have the ability to speak out, so without giving them any notice or allowing them to voice these concerns, communities were swept into that EPA. In effect, that act removed residents' ability to help design the future of their hometowns.
Again — that is a right retained by every Mainer living in an organized town and every Mainer living in an unorganized territory not included in the EPA.
Payne would have the public believe that the process was all above-board. He stated: “Through an open and deliberative process — which included six months of public hearings and extensive public documentation of discussion — Maine developed a comprehensive, statewide approach to wind power developments.”
But the "process" of creating the expedited permitting area was done behind closed doors, with only Wind Task Force members and the wind industry included. No citizen living in the EPA was invited to the discussion. No minutes were kept of the meetings.
An "open" process? Not by a long shot. In fact, in a Jan. 17, 2008, letter (obtained through a FOAA request) from Alec Giffen, chairman of the Wind Task Force, to Karin Tilberg of former Gov. John Baldacci’s staff, Giffen writes:
“Here is my proposal for how we get from where we are now to a completed report from the Wind Power Task Force and proposed legislation to implement it. … Hold individual meetings with the ENGOs and developers (FPL, Rob Gardiner, UPC, TransCanada, Chip Ahrens, Harley Lee) to go over draft report and, if possible, develop a map of the area where expedited review would take place. ... Agreement would be that what is said in these meetings is confidential among the parties (ENGOs, us, and the developers). ... Parties would sign an agreement to support the map publicly and privately and resist efforts to change it in the Legislature.”
A gag order from the chairman of the governor’s Wind Task Force? Yes, that was "deliberative," but the "process" was anything but "open," and Jeremy Payne knows it.
Karen Bessey Pease, Lexington Township