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Wednesday, March 5, 2014: Wind power, Mike Michaud, tree farms

Scenic resources

In a Feb 28 BDN OpEd, Paul Williamson extolled “Maine’s obligation to wind power.” He got one thing right: “Wind energy is highly visible.” And that is precisely why inland wind power is not a good investment for Maine.

Maine has an equal obligation to its scenic resources. According to a Maine State Planning Office report from 2006, Maine’s largest industry is tourism, generating 140,000 jobs and over $10 billion in sales of goods and services. Sightseeing is the largest attraction for visitors, far exceeding the national average. Tourists come for our wilderness-like areas, large fishing lakes and scenic byways, including the Appalachian Trail.

In 2006 the state commissioned the Brookings Institution to create an action plan for promoting Maine’s sustainable prosperity and quality places. In “Charting Maine’s Future,” the authors noted: “As the search for quality places grows in importance, Maine possesses a globally known ‘brand’ built on images of livable communities, stunning scenery, and great recreational opportunities.”

Just two years later, driven by special-interest politics, the 2008 Wind Energy Act created expedited permitting of grid-scale wind projects. Wind turbines, more than 500-feet tall, began affecting viewsheds and scenic resources and creating irreparable environmental changes as rural landscapes were cleared for turbine platforms, access roads and transmission line upgrades to reach distant population centers.

Which vision produces real economic benefit for Maine: acres of wind turbines producing renewable energy credits for urban centers in southern New England or Maine’s special “brand” of scenic resources? The choice seems pretty clear to me.

Donald E. Moore


Shoes to fill

A Feb. 24 editorial, “Government by Paper,” said that U.S. Rep. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud’s advocacy for papermakers is not surprising, as he was a worker in the industry for two decades. That tells me that Mike knows what it is like to work for a living and how important all jobs are here in Maine. Where I live I know many people that do not have access to the Internet, and paper correspondence is the only option they have. The BDN singles Michaud out but fails to mention that the entire Maine delegation worked and testified in a trade case against China for dumping paper that would have affected over 2,000 workers directly and 4,000-5,000 workers indirectly.

The piece never mentions how Michaud is an advocate for our veterans, working hard to make sure they get the proper health care and support they need for the service and sacrifices they made for us all. Michaud is also pushing the Department of Defense to adhere to the Berry Amendment, which would help workers in Maine as it would require our military to be dressed head to toe in American-made products. We make New Balance sneakers here in Maine, and that would create job security and possibly more jobs.

Michaud has been a leader against these terrible trade agreements that are not only sucking jobs out of Maine but the rest of the nation.

I, for one, look forward to the opportunity to cast my ballot for Michaud for governor.

Dan Lawson


LD 616 passage

In a recent mailing, the Maine Renewable Energy Association asks recipients to notify their elected officials of their opposition to the passage of LD 616. Supporters of the bill are described as a “small but vocal minority,” intent on denying to all Mainers the benefits of industrial wind development. Readers are told that “bills like LD 616 … seek to squeeze out new wind projects with bad policies.” The “bad policies” are not explained, and for good reason.

When the Wind Energy Act of 2008 created “expedited permitting areas,” it severely restricted the right of residents within those communities to speak out in open hearings regarding rezoning and industrial development. LD 616 provides a means by which a community can petition to be removed from that list, restoring to it the same rights enjoyed before 2008 — and retained by most others in Maine.

The association knows this to be true. Its representative testified before the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee that the curtailment of residents’ rights was simply collateral damage, the voice of the people merely an added “layer of bureaucracy,” expendable in the name of expediency.

Investigate the bill. If you find, as I have, that the efforts of the association are both disingenuous and misleading, and that laws must apply equally to all, please let your representatives know you support LD 616. We may be small in number, but we remain passionate in defense of our rights. The passage of LD 616 will help to restore our rights now and may protect others in the future.

Michael Smith


Tree welfare

I know the state is looking for ways to increase income and hopefully lower taxes for honest landowners. As a landowner paying premium real estate taxes, I have to ask myself: Why do I have to pay more in real estate taxes, so we can continue to give paper companies a lower rate on their tree farm exemption?

Paper companies are not employing anywhere near the amount of people they used too. They will just sell off the land and move to China and laugh all the way to the bank on how little they paid in taxes all the years they owned it. Like so many other companies.

Also, no person or company should get a tree farm exemption unless they open their land to public use, as we the public are paying for that exemption.

Why are we paying landowners to grow trees? They will sell them for a good profit anyway.

Is it time to end corporate welfare for tree farms?

David Call



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