Monday, July 5, 2010

A Pressing Matter


The Friends of the Highland Mountains held a press conference in the State of Maine room at Portland City Hall on Wednesday, June 30th. The purpose of the gathering was to officially release our DVD, ‘Save the Mountains of Highland, Maine’.

We wrote up a press release and faxed and emailed it to every major media outlet in the state of Maine; television stations, radio stations and newspapers. We chased the written announcements with telephone calls—member Jonathan Carter made the original calls the night before, and I followed up with reminders the morning of the DVD's release.

More than a dozen of our members took time out of their busy lives and drove the long distance to southern Maine to stand together for the event. I was humbled. Whenever I mention a need—in this case, a simple, public showing of support—the Friends (who are truly ‘friends’) never let me down. More importantly, they never let the mountains down, or each other.

I don’t have experience in the public arena, so I don’t really know if success was achieved by the number of media that showed up for the press conference. There were two television stations, ABC and NBC, which cover a large portion of the state, and a radio station, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, which also has a far-reaching audience. What constitutes ‘ample coverage’ eludes me, but I was somewhat contented. I handed out informational packets and copies of our DVD to each reporter and cameraman, and then-- we were ‘on’.

Jonathan introduced us and our DVD. He has 25 years of experience dealing with the media, so that seemed to be a good idea. I then spoke for approximately five minutes. My statement is pasted in, below. Following my words, we showed our twenty-five minute video… a documentary that details our struggle to protect the five mountains of Highland Plantation, Maine.

After that, it was over. We packed up our computer, and the power point projector and screen and left City Hall. The other members of the Board of Directors and I walked to the offices of the Portland Press Herald (which did not attend the press conference) and to the Associated Press office and delivered our packets and copies of our DVD. After that, any control that we had of the situation was out of our hands.

My statement to the press, June 30, 2010

Good morning. `My name is Karen Pease, and I’m a member of the Friends of the Highland Mountains. I’d like to thank Jonathan Carter of the Forest Ecology Network, who, along with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power, and many other organizations, is standing with us in our effort to protect the mountains of Highland Plantation. Today we are releasing to the press a DVD which we’ve created, and we hope that you will dedicate 25 minutes of your time to watching this production. In the DVD we have outlined our concerns regarding the industrial wind development which Angus King and Rob Gardiner propose to construct atop Highland’s five mountains.

In the months since Highland Wind LLC first submitted their permit application to Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission, I have read reams and reams of material pertaining to the topic of Industrial Wind. What I have learned has astounded me, and some of it comes from the developers’ own permit application. I learned of the serious negative impacts to our environment and its ecosystems. I read of high, low and ultra-low frequency noise and shadow flicker, and its effects on humans who live in the vicinity of wind turbines. I’ve spoken with people who live in the shadow of these energy plants and I’ve received first-hand accounts of what they are dealing with. I’ve talked with wildlife biologists who are deeply concerned about the effects of fragmentation of habitat, abandonment of homes and nesting sites, and deaths resulting from blade collisions. I’ve paid attention to economists, scientists and physicists who have nothing to gain and much to lose by speaking out… and they are saying: Mountaintop Industrial Wind in Maine DOES NOT DO what developers promise. It is unreliable, intermittent, is not proven to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and… it is very, very expensive. Expensive to electrical rate-payers, expensive to the tax-payers who are footing a large percentage of the cost of these projects through government subsidies-- and it will no doubt negatively impact our economy, which is driven in large part by tourist dollars and the real estate market.

I realize that as good reporters, you will go to Mr. King for his comments on the DVD, this press conference and our intention to stop his Highland project, so please let me say this. Mr. King has been known to give statements which are not grounded in facts. He has been quoted as saying that our only complaint is the visual impact of these turbines. That is not true. He knows that is not true, for I wrote him a personal letter stating our concerns.


As stewards of this earth, and as conscientious individuals, we are attempting to protect our natural resources and our quality of place and quality of life. Mr. King might trivialize our concerns about the effects of the noise, the shadow flicker and the lights. But he has also been quoted as saying that you “cannot hear a truck from more than a mile away”. In regards to the turbine noise, he has repeatedly said “a half-mile is about right. Hear them for miles? Never!” He trivializes the fact that the dwellings within a half mile of his proposed project are nothing but ‘summer camps’. He completely discounts those people who own them, and he has no idea what future plans the owners have for their unique properties. There are many standard lines which this developer uses to make light of our concerns, and I hope that you will take them with a grain of salt. He and his partner stand to make millions of dollars from this project, and they would like the public to discount us. I hope you will give our words credence. We are trying very hard to be factual. We want the people of Maine to know the truths regarding mountaintop industrial wind.

We in Maine ALREADY HAVE what millions of Americans crave—abundant and beautiful natural resources. Our mountains represent a way of life--and a way of making a living. It is unconscionable to expect us to sacrifice our natural resources to satisfy another region’s electrical needs. This DVD is one way in which we are attempting to educate the Maine people about the impacts of a misguided plan. It is our hope and our intention to protect these natural resources which stand at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail.

Thank you for your time. We will be available after the DVD to answer any of your questions. And if we do not know the answers, we will do our very best to find honest, factual, truthful answers for you.

Thank you.



In addition to my statement, I am going to include the story written by the AP reporter, Dave Sharp. He couldn’t attend the press conference, but he read my hand-delivered statement—perhaps even watched the DVD—and called Jonathan on his cell phone before I’d even jigged my over-long truck out of the too-small space in the municipal lot. Mr. Sharp chose to write a different story. Something that had less to do with the Highland mountains and our group’s very real concerns about the negative impacts of a 48 turbine development on those pristine ridges. Please note the focus of the story… a story which was picked up by media outlets across the state, and even nationally.

Carter, King clash over wind power project
6/30/10
By The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — A former Green Independent Party candidate for governor exchanged charges of greed and hypocrisy Wednesday with a former governor who’s promoting a 128-megawatt wind power project in Somerset County.

Building 48 wind turbines in Highland Plantation would require blasting of 1.6 million cubic yards of rock and dirt, decimate fragile alpine terrain and generate visual and noise pollution all while failing to reduce greenhouse emissions, said Jonathan Carter, director of the Forest Ecology Network.

Former independent Maine Gov. Angus King, one of the Highland Wind LLC business partners, said the project carries an environmental impact but that it’s more benign than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power. It would create enough clean energy for about 54,000 homes, or all the homes in Franklin, Piscataquis and Somerset counties.

King also took a jab at his former political foe in the 1994 gubernatorial race, saying the environmentally minded Carter was supportive of wind power until a project was proposed near his home.

Carter, who lives about 3.5 miles from the turbines, responded by calling King a “mountain-slayer and a profiteer.” He said he’s not against wind power, but he’s against large projects that destroy mountaintops: “Industrial mountaintop wind, wherever you put it, is a disaster.”

The war of words began with a news conference at Portland City Hall by the Friends of Highland Mountains, which has created a DVD outlining its opposition.

Carter described the construction of wind turbines on mountain ridges as “Maine’s version of mountaintop removal.” And he said there would be no reduction in greenhouse gases because carbon-emitting power plants would have to be kept running and on standby for times when the wind isn’t blowing.

Furthermore, he said the turbine towers with blinking lights would be built in the face of the Bigelow Preserve and could be seen by hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

“I’ll buy him a bus ticket to West Virginia, where they’re tearing mountains to the ground to feed our fossil fuel addiction,” King retorted. He said there would be a “1-to-1” reduction in greenhouse gases because existing plants would be throttled back whenever the turbines are in operation.

He said the remoteness of the site is part of its appeal. He said there are only two vacation homes a half-mile from the turbines and that other homes are at least a mile away, reducing the impact.

Maine is the leader in New England when it comes to wind power, with 432 megawatts of wind power either in operations or under construction. Large projects already in operation include TransCanada’s Kibby Mountain, First Wind’s Mars Hill, and First Wind’s Stetson I and Stetson II.

Central Maine Power is beginning a five-year upgrade of the power grid to make it more reliable and to increase capacity for future wind power projects.



As you can see, the AP reporter chose to focus on Jonathan and Angus; two men who were pitted against each other in the gubernatorial race of 1994. The two are old foes, and the reporter decided to exploit an ancient controversy rather than devote the majority of his coverage to our battle to save our mountains. To many, the fact that we received such broad coverage was a good thing, no matter what the focal point was of the story. To others, disappointment ruled the day. We'd had high hopes... hopes that thousands of Mainers would learn of our struggle against big money, influence and power. We hoped that they would hear about our concern over a financially wasteful plan which, if implemented, will cause serious damage to our environment, its ecosystems, our wildlife, and our people.

But we can't control the media nor can we dictate what they choose to report. What we can do-- what we WILL do-- is learn from our mistakes. We can and will also continue to take our message to the people of Maine, and we will speak of this issue armed with facts. Science and economics tell the story, no matter what sub-plots the news media puts forth for readers' consumption.

We were surprised today, and some were momentarily discouraged. But the Friends of the Highland Mountains is made up of some cool, tough, dedicated individuals who don't despair when we hit a bump in the road. Instead, we tighten our seatbelts, shift into low gear, and increase our power. We'll get where we need to go. It might take us a little longer to arrive, but we WILL save the mountains of Highland Plantation, Maine.

And by the way... Angus' statements sound good because he puts just enought truth in them to make them believable. But they can and will be factually refuted. He's coasted along on star power and some lingering popularity, but I think the people of this great state are waking up to the truth... and they WANT the truth. The WHOLE truth.

And NOTHING BUT the truth.

We can help them discover it.

www.highlandmts.org

http://www.windtaskforce.org/

http://www.windaction.org/

http://www.wind-watch.org/

http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/

http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html

18 comments:

  1. Thumbs up..keep up the good fight KBP!

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  2. Hi Ali g. My email said you left a comment, but when I came over to GAG, I can't find it.

    So... I'll just say thanks. :o)

    Oh, and a minor 'congratulations'.... second place in the "Creative Cussing" contes! I suppose the tough part is wondering if Dozy's gonna lord it over you, now... (See, Trev would immediately take that statement and run with it, but I haven't heard from him in a while...hehehe)

    Hope all is well Down Under!

    xoxo
    Kazza

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  3. Been pretty busy the last week and a bit. was just singing 'yo ho ho and a bottle of rum' and two hookers who were passing buy thought I was talking to them so they took me back to their place for drinks and that's where I've been until now.

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  4. Snort!

    Hiya Trev. I've missed you. Sorry for your recent troubles... glad you've escaped custody.

    xoxo
    Kazza

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  5. yeh..the handcuffs were fun to start with but after 8 days it got a bit too much

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  6. Mountaintop removal is mush worse than this issue. Please do not make the comparison as it belittles the battle that rages on in the southern coal fields.

    Wind turbines do not kill people and poison the water.

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  7. Hi Rob.

    Welcome to GAG. I'm so pleased that you are sharing your point of view with my readers and me.

    I don't believe that I have ever said that what industrial wind developers are doing to our high terrain areas is "Mountaintop Removal". No doubt you are thinking of a quote from Jonathan Carter, the director of the Forest Ecology Network, who is also a member of te Friends of the Highland Mountains. Just as we've been lumped together with the Green Party, and the Earth First group, so many people think we are associated with FEN. In fact, we are simply co-intervenors on the same project. FEN is an intervenor in the Highland WInd LLC proposal, as is the Maine Appalacian Trail Club, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and many others concerned entities. If you would like to read the actual permit application and find out for yourself who is opposing the project, and what--exactly-- we are opposing, I encourage you to visit this web address: http://www.maine.gov/doc/lurc/projects/Windpower/HighlandWind/Highland_DP4862.shtml

    Please rest assured--I most certainly understand the terrible and detrimental damage that coal mining does to our land and our people. I would never trivialize that. In fact, if you follow GAG or any of my newspaper and online articles, you will discover that I've never mentioned coal mines, either.

    I am part of an effort to stop mountaintop industrial wind on Maine's ubique ridgelines, just as I suspect many local folks in West Virginia and the vicinity are doing their best to preserve what's left of their natural resources.

    Now, I don't know you, and your blogger ID is blocked, so I can't tell if you are a concerned citizen, or a member of the wind industry (there are quite a few who read this blog, you know). But either way, I would love an opportunity to have an open dialogue with you. Industrial Wind is not as benign as you might believe... or as harmless as you might have others believe. And while I will NEVER trivialize those social, environmental and health-related impacts of other energy-related projects such as coal mining, I have to spend my time and energy on those issues which affect my own home turf, first. Those charged with the task are not doing their jobs, and so it is up to others who care about this land and each other to do their job for them.

    We are committed to educating the people of Maine about the TRUTHS regarding these projects, so I'd love to speak to you one-on-one. I have yet to find a single person who-- once armed with the real facts and not the industry's and the government's 'feel good' propaganda--hasn't come to the same conclusion hundreds of us have come to. Moutaintop Industrial Wind DOES NOT do what it's proponents say it does. The only people who remain 'unconvinced' are those who have some financial stake in the matter.

    Would you like access to solid and factual information? If so, please email me at roomtomove@tds.net.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to read, and the time to comment. That's one of the things I love best about America, you know... our right and our ability to disagree with others without censure or antagonism. So... come on over any time. You are welcome here.

    Respectfully,
    KazzaBP

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  8. David P. CorriganJuly 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    My Mother, and my Grandfather before her, grew up in West Virginia, so I have sympathy for anyone who lives and dies in coal country. In fact, as a young child I remember my Grandfather saying that the only time that he ever carried a gun, other than durring his time in North Africa and Italy durring the War, was when he was helping the coal miners to organize against greedy owners who showed no respect for them, or their families.

    There is no comparison between coal mining and Industrial Wind. It's apples and oranges. However, simply because coal mining has caused undeniable damage over the years is no reason to belittle the damage now being done to Maine by industrial wind. If we could go back and 'undo' all the damage done by coal mining, I'm sure we would all like to. Well, right now, we have a chance to make sure that masive damage does not occur here on our Maine Mountains. If we do our jobs now, future generations won't have to wish that they could 'undo' the destruction caused by industrial wind. Hopefully, we have learned from past mistakes.

    Maybe wind turbines don't kill people and poison the water...maybe. At this point, those are still open questions. We do know that wind turbines sicken both people and animals that are forced to live near them, and we have good reason to believe that the clearing, bulldozing, and blasting that acompany wind turbines have a very negative effect on our ground water, as well as the surface water streams, lakes and ponds that make up such an important part of Maine.

    So, while I certainly have sympathy with the folks in coal country, I don't believe that their long suffering is a legitimate reason to destroy Maine now.

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  9. Thanks, Corrigan, for weighing in. Open dialogue is necessary, and I appreciate the fact that you grace my forum with your insight.

    For the Mountains, and for the 'right to have a say'...
    Kaz

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  10. Hi Karen

    I have just been reading your latest GAG & have to say that I found your speech to be excellent - it was concise, articulate & well researched. Well done & good luck to you & 'The Friends' in your endeavours to preserve the Mountains of Maine !!!

    As for your 'minor congratulations' to Ali g & my lording it over him - does this mean that I won the cussing contest ??? Wow & yippee !! I normally can't even win an argument so you can imagine how stoked I am that my 'cussing' is actually a winner.....I am overcome with excitement here. You have made my day,week & year...... Thank You !! (Gonna go now & have a little celebratory jig.....heheh)

    Love you sh**loads girl !!!

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  11. You must forgive me for being trite when the issues in this particular blog are so important.
    After reading Rob's comment I thought I must have missed something that you'd said that was in anyway belittling so am glad to see your return comment clarifying things.
    Please do have a one on one chat with Rob. I'm sending the handcuffs in the mail in case he tries to escape.

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  12. Oh, sweetie... no need to apologize! (But yes... send the cuffs. I won't use them on poor Rob, but I might be able to utilize them for a grander endeavor.)

    You always make me grin, and GAG is about real life, right. Grumbles AND grins... we all need a few of the latter to help us survive the former.

    I know you've a heart of gold (I promise I won't let that news escape me, though... your secret's safe with me!) Just keep being 'you'. I need you badly! (grrrr!)

    :o)>

    xoxo
    Kazza

    And to Dozy... go ahead and crow, why don't you! CP and Ali g have ruled the roost for long enough... it's time a girl became cock of the walk! Or something like that...

    Your Maine t-shirt will be on it's way shortly! Have a great day, all!

    xoxo
    Me

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  13. Fancy being out cussed by a woman! never mind...didn't want another Maine T shirt anyway...sniff..

    so what's second prize then? huh? huh?

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  14. Hey, Ali g. How ya doing, love?

    I really think you should have a reunion with all the Aussies who now have Maine t-shirts... you and the missus, Dozy, CP, Jack, Larry, Pete, Alison. When I think about it, it really makes me smile.

    :o) <-- that's my smile, btw...

    Second prize... well. It'd have to be something fairly benign, wouldn't it, to get thru Customs? How about a how-to book on harvesting dingleberries, written by the best in the field? Sure, those experts drool a little bit, have crossed eyes and some awesomely lethal body odor, but they know their dingleberries!

    What do you think? :o)

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  15. sounds like a lod of crap to me.

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  16. Heh... you suffer from my own affliction, Ali g. "Proofreaditis".

    But it's not a load (or a lod) of crap-- it's just a stray dingleberry or two. It's apparent you need 'the book'!

    Check your mailbox!

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  17. Hello, Gempaint! Welcome to Grumbles and Grins, or "GAG" as I like to call it!

    I hope you visit often!

    Kazza

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