Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Kill a Baby, but Build an Orphanage
Kill a baby, but build an orphanage…
In the murky world of Industrial Wind permitting, it’s referred to as “mitigation”.
At forty-six, you’d think I would have “seen it all”. That I would be cynical, hardened, and wiser than I am. But I’m not. I’m still naïve; still believe in the innate goodness of all mankind... still believe that there are some things which money can’t buy. Yep, I’m naïve…
But I’m growing out of it fast.
Today, to show support for the citizens opposing the development of another of Maine's beautiful and rugged mountains, I attended the Land Use Regulation Commission’s technical hearing for the Sisk Mountain/Trans-Canada proposal. Three environmentally-minded agencies were opposing a part of the development… not all of it, but a section. Each representative stated their agency’s reasons for opposing the placement of 400' tall turbines on the south end of Sisk Mountain; one of the Boundary Mountains between Maine and Canada, along the historic Arnold Trail. One wanted to protect a rare tree; another, a rare bird; and the third… the wilderness experience in a remote-feeling outpost. After their testimony, Trans-Canada’s razor-sharp attorneys cross-examined them. These same three entities had endorsed the Kibby Mountain project just a few miles away, and the wind developer’s lawyers quoted their testimony given at those hearings back to them.
They made them look like fools.
You know what, though? Those red cheeks and shuffling feet were well deserved. These agencies are each charged with protecting a segment of Maine’s natural resources. In my opinion, they shouldn’t have endorsed the Kibby Project in the first place. They should have been taken to task, should have had their words thrown back at them! And when the Trans-Canada fire got a little too hot, what happened?
Oh, man. I was mad enough to spit nails...
One expert attempted to clarify his agency’s position on the Kibby project. He stated that they never actually ENDORSED the wind turbine development that is being built there… they simply withdrew their opposition because Trans-Canada had enabled them to purchase a large parcel of land elsewhere to put into a conservation easement. They had received “mitigation”, and so they withdrew their opposition. And then that gentleman--that expert--went one step further. He stated that if Trans-Canada wished to offer similar “mitigation” for the Sisk proposal…
Before the cross-examination was over, another of the three agencies admitted to the same thing… that they had sacrificed that which they are duty-bound to protect in exchange for something else of value. That the natural resources of Kibby had been important, but not so important that they couldn’t be forfeited if that agency received something bigger and better. It was justified, you see…
It was all for the greater good.
That saddest part of this whole thing? Our government endorses this practice. After all, “mitigation” is written into that misguided Expedited Permitting Law, LD 2283. I believe our administration may even encourage it, since if the opposing parties can reach a “meeting of the minds”, then the desired development is approved that much quicker, LURC is saved the trouble of having to agonize over a decision, and our governor gets closer to reaching his goal of 2,700 megawatts of land-based wind power by 2020.
Mitigation. Kill a baby, but build an orphanage. I guess that makes it all okay.
Top photo is of the Boundary Mountains, Maine