“Emergency legislation” proposed by Senate President Justin Alfond, in the form of LD 1750, falls into the “you can’t make these things up” category. It would be comical, if it were not bold evidence of special interests walking the halls in Augusta.
What’s the crisis? Well, after countless reviews, First Wind’s Bowers Mountain and Passadumkeag wind projects have been turned down, by public opinion, and by every Maine state agency. So now, Alfond wants to change the permitting process for wind power projects.
The text of this bill has the wind lobby’s fingerprints all over it, and it would set a dangerous precedent.
LD 1750 would eliminate the provisions in the Wind Energy Act that allowed the DEP to deny permits. The bill would make it illegal for Maine state agencies to consider public opinion, and public testimony, when making licensing decisions. The only opinions allowed will be those of “qualified experts” — which translates, simply, into paid, pro-wind experts — the hired guns only the wind lobby can afford.
People who value democracy, even those who are in favor of wind development, have to be opposed to LD 1750.
I can only hope that Maine citizens will recognize this bill for what it is and make their voices heard.
Jack Gagnon, Lakeville
Editor’s note: LD 1750 does not expressly exclude non-expert public testimony, but adds language that agency decisions must be based on the best evidence available to the agency, “including the conclusions and testimony of qualified experts.” Some people have expressed worry that the bill fails to define “qualified experts” and that, if the bill passes, opposition testimony from laymen and abutters will no longer be considered. The public hearing on this bill is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, before the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.