The hypocrisy of Maine’s environmental community, when it comes to wind power, might be absurdly funny if it did not have the potential to cause such harm to rural people trying to make a living in this tough economy.
As a selectman in Eustis, I have seen environmentalists stand up at public hearings for 20-plus years and preach that clean, renewable resources were the answer. It never seemed to matter much what the project was, what the benefits to our people might have been, or even what the facts were on the environmental impacts — renewable energy was always the better choice.
None of us has ever wanted companies to come into the state of Maine to pollute or cause a devastating impact. For decades, environmentally-minded people have played an important role in reminding us to manage our resources responsibly for future generations. For quite some time, renewable energy was their rallying cry — their single positive message — even when it was uneconomical to implement.
Wind power is now a viable option, providing good jobs and clean energy. Instead of coming together to support appropriately sited projects, many of the same groups and individuals who pushed renewables for so long are working against them. Some of them want it both ways. “We support wind, but not here. This bird and that tree are more important.” Or, “Wind power is great, but let's put it offshore ten years from now instead of on this ridge today.” Or, “I would prefer not to look at it.”
Since wind power was first proposed in Maine, we have heard every excuse possible. I don't understand it.
We cannot just kick the can down the road anymore. Renewable energy is here, now, ready to create jobs and power our industry. Those of us who live in the real world always knew it would have its trade-offs and, sure enough, it does.
Reasonably minded people can see when the balance between impacts and benefits is appropriate.
People in my town have benefited from a wind project that has struck this balance once and hopes to be able to do so again with a modest expansion. These folks are wondering how their livelihoods got caught up in a game that the environmentalists seem to be making up as they go along.
There are no species that are going to go extinct or become endangered; the location is far enough from where people live that noise is not an issue; and the new turbines will be visible from the same ponds as the original project currently under construction. I fail to see the concern.
I invite any members of Maine environmental groups who are reading this to come visit Eustis. We’ll tell you about the good things wind power has done in northern Franklin County over the last few years. We could even arrange a tour of the project so that you can see and hear for yourselves that the impacts are minimal when the site is correctly chosen and developed responsibly.
Perhaps then you might be willing to talk some sense into the leaders of these organizations that supported renewable energy until it actually showed up to improve everyone’s environment and to help us pay our bills.
Earl L. Wyman Jr. serves as a selectman in Eustis, Maine.