Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Open Letter to the Members of Maine's Legislature

I have just received notice from Maine's Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC) that Highland Wind LLC's permit application is complete, and that LURC will begin reviewing it tomorrow, February 3, 2010. In that same notification came the news that the citizens of Maine have two weeks to request a public hearing to voice their opinions about this industrial development proposed for the unspoiled mountain ridges of Highland Plantation. TWO WEEKS! Two weeks to activate the citizens of Maine, TWO WEEKS to get petitions to them for signature, TWO WEEKS to collate and assemble them and get them to LURC in Augusta. If this development is approved, the impact made on our mountains and to our culture and our quality of life will last FOREVER. Once the crests of a small mountain range have been blasted away in 48 separate places, that horizon will never be the same. The devastation will be irreversible. And yet... we are given a paltry, token two weeks to assemble an opposition to this plan.

I cannot adequately express the anger I feel without using words innappropriate for this medium. And I cannot convey the indignation or the sorrow I feel without beginning what I believe would be a long and vituperous rant. Instead of spouting off on GAG, I am pasting in a copy of the letter which I sent to each member of Maine's Legislature. I believe most of them received it, although some of the email addresses I got from the state's website were not current, and ten of them came back to me. I'll work on seeing if I can find more updated addresses, out of fairness and courtesy to our senators and representatives. I want them all to be on the same page, in case those elected officials who are supposed to represent Maine's citizens deem this issue important enough to address.

I invite your comments, no matter where on this planet you are from. And if you are a fellow Mainer, I respectfully request your assistance. Study up on the subject of Big Wind. A good place to start is at this website: www.highlandmts.org. From there you can access many links to broaden your knowledge. This is important, for with knowledge comes power, and we're losing a little of our power each day.

Then, if you believe--as I do--that it is a mistake to place these inefficient and economically unfeasible energy plants along 360 miles of Maine's mountaintops (which is virtually all of them save those inside the Appalachian Trail corridor and the national and state parks) then I ask that you go one step further. I ask that you contact me in the next few days and request a petition whereby you request that LURC grant a public hearing. I ask that you sign it and mail it back to the Friends of the Highland Mountains, PO Box 111, New Portland, ME 04961. In my opinion, whether you agree with my position on this issue or not, we should ALL believe in our right as American citizens to be granted the opportunity to voice our opinions. This is still America, after all. We're talking about basic rights, here. Rights that are being whisked away before we even notice they're up for grabs.

The following letter is long, but I ask that you devote a few moments of your busy day to read it. The issues are important, and the time is very, very short.

Thank you, my friends.

‘Voices on the Wind’
January 25, 2010

Dear Senators and Representatives of the Maine Legislature;

I am a citizen with serious concerns regarding a crisis here in Maine. Although the specific issue I will speak of pertains to our state, the root problem is one that is affecting the country at large. It’s time for us to take a leadership role and do what is right.

Americans are fast losing their voice and their right to shape their own destinies and the future of our country. You, the members of our State Legislature, passed an ‘emergency’ bill in 2008 which is now known as LD#2283, the ‘expedited permitting law’. This law was shaped, in part, by industrial wind turbine developers. Rob Gardiner, partner to Maine’s former governor Angus King, gave specific instructions and advice to Governor Baldacci’s Task Force on Wind Power as to how this law could best circumvent the objections of the people of Maine, as well as eliminating many of the discretionary powers of LURC, the board charged with protecting Maine’s natural resources in our unorganized territories. Once it was designed (using those recommendations of developers who stood to make millions of dollars on industrial wind), the Task Force then urged passage of the measure. This bill passed into law in 15 days–a remarkably short time-frame. Not a single member of our Legislature voted against this ‘emergency’ measure, and there was no debate. There is some question as to whether some of you even read the bill.

What LD#2283 does, in essence, is fast-track the installation of massive industrial wind turbine developments along the unspoiled mountain ridges of Maine. The people of Maine, under this law, do not have the ‘right’ to a public hearing, wherein we can voice our objections to these encroachments. That the bill was introduced as an ‘emergency’ measure removed the standard 90-day period between its passage and its implementation, during which the people of this state would have had time to learn of the measure before it was put into practice.

There are many injustices involved in this issue. The ‘emergency’ designation is just the first. There was no genuine emergency. There were no blizzards or earthquakes or floods to prompt this measure. There was no war or disaster looming on the horizon. I believe that we, the people of Maine, were the ‘emergency’. I believe that the politicians and the developers with power, money and influence knew that if the voting public of this state learned of the huge impacts these industrial energy plants would have on our landscape, wildlife, economy and quality of life here in Maine, they might very well stand up and object. Directly prior to the passage of LD#2283 some average Mainers openly opposed other such installations, and they caused many problems for the developers. They delayed approval of the permit. They insisted on additional environmental impact studies. They even caused the Redington permit application to be denied. The average Mainers were the ‘emergency’, and so we were removed from the equation. At the very least, we are ordered to jump through hoops to earn the possibility of being heard. Even after such acrobatics, there is no guarantee that a public hearing will be allowed. In all honesty, I am not convinced that, if granted, a hearing will even carry any weight. I believe a public hearing would be nothing more than a tool to placate those in opposition, and give them a false feeling of hope. I believe that the administrations in Washington and Augusta have charged those under their authority to expedite the permitting process. Period. End of story.

In order for developers to take advantage of government subsidy monies to fund their projects, the roadblocks and delays must be eliminated quickly, before those offers of subsidies expire. In my opinion, that was the purpose of LD#2283; to remove those human roadblocks.

The passage of that law was an outrageous act. What is worse is that the general public has not received honest information regarding these wind developments. We have been fed the line that ‘wind is green, and green is good’. I am as concerned as the next woman about global warming, our country’s dependence on foreign oil, and the need for sustainable and renewable energy sources. But I want to see responsible, careful, and long term consideration given to the resources and citizens of our rural communities.

In order to meet the governor’s goals for sustainable energy, over three hundred miles of our mountaintops will have to be sacrificed for massive forty-story wind turbines. The summits will be dynamited to create a level area for the pouring of a massive concrete pad for each of the hundreds of towers. Miles and miles of roads will be cut through pristine forests and along the slopes of hills to allow access to the turbines and their infrastructure. Transmission corridors will also be cut, and the vegetation controlled with herbicides. Hydro-fractures, erosion, interruption of the foraging and hunting trails of our native species, bird and bat deaths from collision with the blades… these are just a few of the concerns that pertain to the ecology and environment of this state. Thousands of acres of trees and plants will be sacrificed– vegetation that is invaluable when battling the effects of greenhouse gasses! The emissions created in manufacturing these machines add another complication to the equation of how ‘green’ wind energy is. These turbines are not manufactured in the United States, either. That government subsidy money–those tax dollars that come from working Americans–will be shipped overseas to places like China and Denmark to support the economies of those countries. Not America’s. As far as the question of job creation here at home is concerned, some local workers may be employed on a temporary basis during the construction phases, but the developers themselves have told us that full time maintenance jobs are limited to a few for each project.

Over the past three decades Maine has lost the majority of its industry. Our paper mills, our saw mills, our shirt and shoe factories, our toothpick and novelty manufacturers are all gone. Those ‘in the know’ decided it was cheaper to export the jobs and import the goods. What Maine has left are our natural resources. Our unspoiled and beautiful wilderness. Our lush trees and our rugged mountains, our crystal clear lakes and glacial ponds. Tourism is what is saving Maine. People escape the crowds and the urban sprawl and industrial complexes to come to Maine, where they can experience life the way it should be. If we despoil this state by covering every mountaintop outside the Appalachian Trail corridor and beyond the boundaries of our national and state parks with 40-story wind turbines that thrum and pulse and create disorienting shadow flicker, and which are proven to cause severe sleep disturbances and other serious health problems, then I despair of ever seeing a tourist or his dollars, again. We may have a brief influx of folks who come to Maine to gawk at our new horizons, but that will be short-lived. Once you’ve seen one ruined skyline; once you’ve heard the jet whine and low frequency thrum caused by blades which sweep an area the size of a 747; once you’ve witnessed a landscape forever altered and scarred, the novelty passes. And what do we Mainers have left?

What we have is an unreliable energy source; windmills that are at the mercy of intermittent winds and the ravages of nature, and massive and expensive pieces of machinery whose power production is so unreliable that electrical plants powered by coal and natural gas must remain online as back-up. The real kicker is that Maine already produces more power than its citizens consume. We are an exporter of electricity. Every bit of that unnecessary wind-generated power will be shipped to southern New England, where the need is greater. If we wish to buy back that ‘green’ power, we will have to pay the higher rates paid by consumers living in those other states. Maine does not need this power, but it is our natural resources which will be sacrificed to meet the needs of more gluttonous markets. It will be our mountaintops which will be blasted away, our wildlife which will be threatened, our very culture and our ability to provide for ourselves which will be at risk. There is no wisdom in this proposal.

Other countries like Spain and Denmark which have heavily invested in wind energy for decades have learned some valuable lessons from their mistakes. I am baffled as to why our elected leaders are not willing to learn from them.

In our complacency we Americans have allowed our government to decide what is best for us. We have allowed it to assume powers which it does not rightly have. The government (and that includes you) works for us; not the other way around. I am tired of being told what will happen in my home and in my homeland, instead of being asked for permission before new, irreversible and encompassing decisions are made. I still have rights as an American citizen and I am tired of watching my freedoms disappear. I’m angry that decisions are made without my input. I still have a voice, and I still have a vote, and I intend to use them.

I ask that you take time to research this issue if you have not done so, and bring the facts to the citizens of Maine and to the rest of the country. I ask that you put politics and careers aside and stand up. Show us you actually represent the best interests of this state and her people. Do what’s right. This is a multi-faceted issue, and as Maine is not alone in its mandates it is a subject which will soon be affecting much of the nation.

Using the internet and standard media, I have researched wind turbine developments and all the myriad issues involved in their placement, feasibility, and environmental and health impacts. I have read documents provided through the Freedom of Information Act. I have had in-depth discussions with a sound engineer, an environmental engineer, my senator and representative, and citizens of Maine already living in the shadow of Big Wind. I have referenced Dr. Nina Pierpont’s study of Wind Turbine Syndrome. I’ve also attended meetings held by wind developers in my neighboring town. I have taken the time to learn the realities of ‘Big Wind’. As members of the Maine Legislature who represent the citizens of this state, I believe it is your obligation to do the same.

The people of Maine must have their power restored. The state and federal governments must return to their proper place. This is not the America of my youth. We, the people, have to stop allowing a government that is out of control to make local decisions for us. The state and federal government exist to support home rule, not to eliminate it. They exist at our discretion, and must operate by carrying out the will of the majority of its citizens. Those with money and influence must not have more power than ordinary citizens, because ordinary citizens are the backbone of this country.

There is little chance we can turn the tide and stop the destruction of our mountains as long as LD#2283 holds sway, and while those with money and influence are able to push their agendas forward, but I refuse to relinquish my right to have a say in what happens in my corner of this great nation. I have a voice, and I plan to use it. A moratorium must be put in place before further permits are granted under LD#2283. Thereafter, this law must be repealed.

I look forward to you response, and will be happy to discuss this issue with you.

Karen L. Pease

This photo was taken on February 5, 2010 in Freedom, Maine. The blade swept down from behind the trees and the home on the right-hand side of the road and stopped me in my tracks. I was stunned by this perspective. This turbine is only 260 feet tall; almost 150 feet shorter than those destined for Highland's mountaintops.

This photo is also of one of the three turbines in Freedom, from 4 miles away (via the access roads-- not sure as the crow flies). The pic is small, so it's hard to see details, but I was amazed at how the farmhouses to the right and left were dwarfed by this turbine.
Thanks go to my very good friend Jack Ramsay, who proofed this letter for me after I wrote it and gave me wise counsel and words of encouragement. I THINK I made all of his corrections, but if I missed any of them, I'd prefer it if you blamed Jack, rather than me. His shoulders are broad, and I'm busy. I've got some mountains to save.

Heh... thanks, Pal.


  1. Perhaps you should contact 'Sixty Minutes' about this disgraceful subtefuge taking place in Maine.

  2. Kazza,

    I agree with Grahame - rally the troops, make a noise, tell everyone who'll listen the facts. As I sit here at my computer in Australia, I'm having second thoughts about the good ol' USA being the greatest democracy in the world.

    Who do these representativve represent?

    Exactly, sister.

    Best of luck - and if there's any more proofing/editing of letters to do, I'm willing.


  3. PS - don't get me wrong: I'm all in favour of 'saving the planet'. But not at the expense of ANYONE'S sanity.

    Now I'm done. :)

  4. Grahame, that is an excellent idea.

    I'd actually prepared a letter to a certain national news show host, but resisted the urge to send it because he is considered fairly controversial. We in opposition are trying to behave responsibly, and by inviting an 'in your face' news show onto the scene, we worried we might alienate citizens who would otherwise be open to learning the truths surrounding this law and about the effects of industrial wind turbine developments in rural areas. We have tried to approach this with integrity, and have been working to get the factual information out to a general public that is overwhelmed and under-informed. We don't want to fight dirty. We want to be above that. It's very hard to remain honorable when our opponents have all the money and influence, but we're certainly trying to do just that.

    Strangely enough, I never thought about Sixty Minutes. I suppose it is because it has been a long time since I had access to a CBS television station. But I like your suggestion, my friend. I don't think you've given me a single bit of bad advice, yet. (I'll let you know if this is the first! Snort! Hey... desperate times, right?)

    Thank you for caring enough to give me some feedback, encouragement and advice.


  5. Jack, thanks. For everything. You also have never lead me astray, even while beating me over the head with my poor grammar and punctuation.


    In America's defense, it IS the greatest democracy in the world primarily BECAUSE of its CITIZENS; we small and seemingly insignificant, hardworking folks who've always risen up in times of trouble. In recent years, we've allowed ourselves to become complacent. We've gotten into the habit of NOT watching and NOT guiding those in positions of leadership and power. We've allowed them to think that we are irrelevant. To the government, we've had our uses; we are handy when troops are needed or new tax dollars must be raised--but other than that, we are thought of as children whom the government must control.

    But that is just how the GOVERNMENT thinks of us. We, the PEOPLE, know better. We, the PEOPLE, know that WE are the ones who have the final say about what goes on around here. And I have no doubt, we WILL have the final say!

    Unfortunately, human beings get so consumed with simply trying to survive that we let our guards down. We trust that the people we elected will always, always do what's right-- always do what's in the best interests of the PEOPLE and this bountiful land.

    But those leaders are human, too. And sometimes, as now, they need to be reminded that they are where they are due to our grace and benevolence. And if they'd care to stay there, they would do well to rethink the mistakes they've made. They would bring honor to themselves if they would simply stand up and admit that they made a mistake. We would respect them for that.

    And then, we would help them repair the damage they've done.

    Keep watching, Jack. You've not seen us at our best, yet, but you will, and your faith will be restored. I can't wait until you see just what a few ordinary American citizens can do!

  6. I notice on the 'Maine Governors' website, www.maine.gov/governor/baldacci/index.shtml , the governor, Mr John Baldacci, has a section 'Contact us' where he says he wants to hear from Maine residents about any issue involving the state government and its operations. Hope he has been sent a copy of your letter.
    He has a contact address and phone number on the site but probably best if the people were to send en masse faxs advising their displeasure to his fax number 207.287.1034.
    I'm another Aussie like Jack who just cant believe that something like this can happen in the 'Land of the Free', the great US of A..
    You go Kazza but watch your back!


  7. Hiya, Ali g. I sure do love you. :o)>

    Thank you for adding the contact information for the Governor's office. He will, indeed, receive a copy of this letter, if he hasn't already. It's important that readers contact him as well and express their opinions. He needs to hear from his employers.

    The unfortunate truth is that it was Governor Baldacci who created the Task Force on Wind Power Development in the first place, and it was the Task Force (which included some industrial wind developers) who recommended to our Legislators that they pass the 'emergency' bill which became LD#2283. The governor wanted wind power, and he set a goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind-generated power by 2015, and 3,000 megawatts by 2020. In order to achieve that goal... well, you can see what has happened.

    There is a link on www.highlandmts.org (go to the left hand side where it says LD2283 Expedited Permitting)where one can read not only the full letter of the law, but a copy of the letter Rob Gardiner of Independence Wind (called Highland Wind LLC on the LURC permit application) wrote to Alec Giffen, the chairman of the Governor's Task Force. Note that each recommendation this developer made is written into the emergency law. What STILL amazes me is that the law specifically SAYS THIS:

    Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and....

    Whereas, proposals to locate and build wind energy facilities in the State have at times proven controversial, due to concerns regarding potential effects of such facilities on scenic and other natural resources values and lack of clarity and direction in state policy regarding consideration of such concerns in making state permitting and other land use decisions; and...

    Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,

    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:....

    2. Modification of regulatory process for siting wind energy projects. The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest to reduce the potential for controversy regarding siting of grid-scale wind energy development by expediting development in places where it is most compatible with existing patterns of development and resource values when considered broadly at the landscape level. Accordingly, the Legislature finds that certain aspects of the State's regulatory process for determining the environmental acceptability of wind energy projects should be modified to encourage the siting of projects in these areas. Such changes include, but are not limited to:

    A. Making wind energy development an allowed use within certain parts of the State's unorganized and deorganized areas;

    B. Refining certain procedures of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission; and

    C. Because the Legislature recognizes that wind turbines are potentially a highly visible feature of the landscape that will have an impact on views, judging the effects of wind energy development on scenic character and existing uses related to scenic charcter based on whether the development will have an unreasonable adverse impact on scenic values and existing uses of scenic resources of state or national significance.

    The Legislature further finds that, while wind energy may be developed at many sites with minimal site-specific environmental impacts, wind energy projects may have, in addition to their beneficial environmental effects and potential scenic impacts, specific adverse environmental effects that can and should be addressed in state permitting decisions pursuant to approval criteria tailored to address issues presented by wind energy development.
    con't. below

  8. Continued from above (apparently, google thinks I'm too 'windy', too... they cut me off! Snort!)

    That was only a small portion of the law, and I encourage followers of GAG to read it in its entirety. I copied and pasted these paragraphs to show one thing. The people of Maine were an obstruction to the quick installation of wind turbine developments. There is a good reason why we were were opposing these. But because we were considered a roadblock to the expedited placing of these energy plants, we were deemed an 'emergency'. We must, at all costs, be kept from disrupting the 'public peace' by having our say.

    Ali g... We were removed from the picture. By our representatives. Those elected officials whom we believed were REPRESENTING US.

    Is it any wonder I'm feeling wrathy?

  9. google cut me off short on my original comment which I then shortened to just 'Grahame'
    so what's going on ? conspiracy theory probably not but wtf

  10. just got cut off again for some reason ...probably server. think you must go & talk to 'Sixty Minutes' for sure ...these guys at the top of your state legislature are a bit worrisome. just smacks of corruption and dollars for deals. have been there in my past workplace and know the signs believe me.

  11. I will talk your suggestion over with the others in the group, Ali g, and make sure they are all in support of the idea.

    Thanks again for being there for me. You're an amazing friend and your support and encouragement are priceless. (Especially when things are this hectic and nerve-wracking!)

    Someday I'll find a way to thank you properly.

  12. I am in full agreement with Ali g and Jack - you should contact 60 minutes & have this impending atrocity exposed in full !
    I am all in favour of saving the environment, just not when it's at the expense of the very same environment !
    Nothing good can be achieved by blasting mountains & destroying wildlife habitats & I really hope that Maine's LURC take your letter seriously, realise the detrimental implications of approving development of wind turbines & instead vote against it.
    Your letter is fantastic & to be highly commended - Maine is lucky to have someone like you who is willing to stand up & defend the rights of all who live there......

  13. Heh... Hi Dozy. :o)

    Thanks for your support and very kind words. As the realities contained in LD2283 get out to the public, people are finally starting to pay attention; and even more importantly, to take action. Unfortunately, our small group is undermanned and we have a very short time-frame in which to work and get the information out. We are having a press conference in Portland next week, but I'm not sure how much time and attention the local media will give us. Highland Plantation is a community with less than 70 residents, and it's easy for the other 1.199 million Mainers to overlook what's happening in this remote section of the western mountains.

    We're not going to give up, though. I genuinely believe that if average citizens researched Big Wind, they would decide that these industrial developments were not suited to the ridgelines of our northern Appalachians, nor are they good for the economy or the ecology of this region.

    So, we're plugging along! Thanks again for your support!


    P.S. I went to Freedom, Maine today. They have only three wind turbines there, and each is only 260 feet tall, so it really doesn't compare to the 48 turbine, 400 feet tall, nine mile string of them which is destined for our five hills. But I wanted to see some close up, and I was appalled. Even with only a slight breeze, the thrum and whine of the turbines and the swoosh of the blades as they sliced through the atmosphere were, well... all I can say is, 'depressing'. Like a jet that was flying overhead, but never passed, so there was nothing to look forward to... no peace just over the horizon. There were only three turbines, each 150 feet shorter than what is proposed for us, a slight breeze and no valley to create a Doppler effect. Yep, depressing.

    I'm going to try to post a pic or two in the blog that I snapped today. I'm not much of a photographer, but at least these show what I've seen with my own eyes. The photo taken of the wooded lane speaks loudest. The size of the blade sweeping down into view was (to me) horrifying. And yet, due to the wording of LD2283, LURC cannot take 'visual impact' into account when determining whether or not to approve Highland Wind LLC's permit. Visual impact can only be considered when it's in the view-shed of a place with historic, state or national significance. In other words, if the homeowners in the expedited permitting area objected to the sight of these huge monoliths in their backyard, they would be told to pound sand. Maine law now states that visual impact is not an issue that is important enough to stop a wind development.