The American Lung Association of Maine announced early Tuesday that it supports the Redington Wind Farm project.

The association’s Chief Executive Officer, Edward Miller, will speak Wednesday night at a state Land Use Regulation Commission public hearing regarding a petition from Maine Mountain Power that would allow it to install 30 wind turbines on Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain. The public hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the Sugarloaf Grand Summit Conference Center in Carrabassett Valley and will continue through Friday with testimony by supporters and opposition to the project.

“The project is consistent with our mission to prevent lung disease,” Miller said, adding that clean air is the major goal in that mission.

Fossil fuels create toxic emissions and supply is running low, he added. “And it’s not the healthiest option for the 120,000 people with lung disease in this state.”

In a release from the American Lung Association of Maine, Miller said air pollution poses serious health risks, especially to those with lung disease. “Combine that with Maine’s unwanted distinction of having one of the highest lung disease rates in the country and you’ve got a public health crisis that must be addressed promptly and aggressively,” he said.

Wind power developer Harley Lee said he is “delighted” to have the support of the lung association.

“Their health mission to reduce smoking in the state has been very successful,” he said. “Now they are working to reduce other types of smoke.”

Research has shown, Miller said, that some air pollution has an effect on lungs similar to diluted second-hand tobacco smoke.

In its release, the lung association also referenced a recent study of Acadia National Park hikers that found that 50 percent of the hikers had respiratory allergies, 20 percent had asthma and 15 percent had heart disease or hypertension. On its Web site, www.npca.org, the National Parks Conservation Association has listed Acadia as America’s fifth most polluted national park.

Miller sees the Redington wind project as just the beginning of renewable energy in Maine.

“We are so dependent on fossil fuels,” he said. “We need to make a major policy change.

“This is not about this ridge or that ridge. It’s about any ridge that has the capability to produce that much clean, renewable energy. Wind power is a great step forward and a great step away from fossil fuels and air pollution.”

Sugarloaf/USA President John Diller has also announced his support of the Redington project by writing a letter to LURC on Monday.

“The bottom line is we need more efficient and cleaner energy generation,” he wrote. “So I ask the questions: Is wind power clean? Yes. Does it have a visual impact? Yes. However, having seen the Equinox program in southern Vermont 15 years ago, I think it is minimal. I would also add that this is perhaps relegated to the eye of the beholder. I have spent most of my adult life at Sugarloaf looking at manmade equipment, chair lifts and towers, that have blended into the landscape.”


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