Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Protesters hoped that by stalling work on the Rollins wind farm in Lexington Township they would draw attention to what they see as harmful development of Maine’s wild places. Instead they called attention to the self-centered and small-minded attitudes of some environmental activists and, ultimately, the ineffectiveness of bullying tactics used by groups such as Earth First!
On Monday, about three dozen protesters stood out in the biting rain and wind in the middle of a gravel road, forcing truck drivers to stop in their tracks for a half-hour.
When police arrested the people blocking the road, the trucks rolled in and work on the 40-turbine wind farm resumed.
The issue is not whether wind power development has some downsides. It does. And criticism of the protesters is not the same as saying that they don’t have a right to make their case. They do.
But what is happening in Lincoln is a tired old act in the public drama of environmental protests that does nothing substantial to protect the environment and damages the critics’ credibility.
Mountaintop wind is no panacea, and it will not solve Maine’s energy problems all by itself, but to say it has no role in Maine’s future is just wrong.
Energy from renewable sources that does not contribute to greenhouse gases and manmade climate change should be a priority for the state, from both and environmental and energy security standpoints.
Any large energy project has tradeoffs. Windmills have been known to kill migrating birds, and they have a visual impact when they are placed on high ridges, which is where the wind blows the hardest.
There are legitimate questions about how much wind power is appropriate and where it should be located. A process, such as Gov. John Baldacci’s wind energy task force that identified good locations for wind power projects and created an expedited process for approval, is the right place to have those conversations.
But after the regulatory process is over, the permits have been issued and the courts have spoken, it is time to let the project move forward.
Protesters can’t stop this project at this point. They can only discredit their position and make themselves less influential when the next project comes up for discussion.