Saturday, August 28, 2010

In the Best Interests of the Town

I wrote this letter a few days ago in response to an article in the Sun Journal. The Friends of Maine's Mountains was challenging ownership of a parcel of mountaintop previously thought to belong to the town of Carthage, but to which they have just received title. This 320 acre lot on Saddleback Mountain is slated to be the home of industrial wind turbines if the town fights for this land--and wins. Selectman Brown commented that the town would "reap royalties" and they just want to do what is in "the best interest of the town".

Angus King and Rob Gardiner, who are proposing an industrial wind project in my neighborhood, met with Highlanders yesterday to present a new 'tangible benefits' package to the plantation. After listening and watching, I was reminded of this comment I made about the Carthage article...


What is, really, in the 'best interest of the town'. Does it always come down to a quick buck? Is that what determines what is best for a town... or for an organization, or for a family or individual? If 'tangible benefits' and short-term lease payments and a temporary reduction in taxes were all removed from the equation, what, then, would be in the 'best interests of the town'?

Would it be best for the town to have hundreds of thousands yards of bedrock and earth blasted and relocated on the beautiful ridges above their homes? Would the high, low and ultra-low frequency noise produced by turbines be unnacceptable to the townsfolk and their neighbors, then? Remember, acoustical engineers are beginning to tell us that people living within 2 miles of turbines can suffer adverse health affects. And less cautious experts are advocating for setbacks of up to five miles in mountainous regions and up to twenty miles when turbines rise above open water. If money wasn't involved, would we be more likely to defend our friends and neighbors from the negative health affects of turbines? Would we care more about them, then?

If the monetary benefits were removed, would we be concerned about the miles of new roads which will fragment wildlife habitat and disrupt animals' hunting and foraging trails? Would we be outraged at the bird and bat deaths which will occur, instead of shrugging the fact off with inane coments about how house cats and automobiles are just as apt to kill them??

And what about economics? If the town was not going to receive those tangible benefits, temporary lease payments and short term tax reductions, would we be more likely to require that wind turbines be self-supporting and produce affordable electricity before they could erect their massive machines? Would we question the economics of a generation system which, at BEST, produces 35% of its rated capacity, but more often produces between 10-25%? Would we welcome a power plant whose product is up to four times more expensive than an already-established renewable hydro source in Canada? Would we encourage development of an industry which we knew had a life-span of only 20 years? And which would be expensive and time-consuming to remove when its useful life was over? Would we allow them to be built, knowing that the money for decommissioning them had not been set aside at the outset, and understanding that it could very well fall to the tax-payers to foot those future bills?

Would it be best for the town's economy to lose open land for hunting, hiking, bird-watching, and the like to hillsides and ridgelines which will be posted against trespassing? Would we be more likely to protect the integrity of the wilderness experience for which tourists from around the world travel to Maine, if the almighty dollar wasn't being waved in front of our faces?

If the state of Maine had not sanctioned this form of bribery, and if our legislators had not approved it, we would not be facing these issues. There is no way in the world the people of Maine would allow such an ill-advised, misguided, destructive and economically unfeasible plan to move forward on our iconic summits.

If money was taken out of the equation, Mainers would be shouting "NO!" from these mountaintops. If the money was gone, then--we would really, really be working in "the best interest of the town".

All is not lost. I am encouraged. As more and more Mainers become informed on the true facts about these projects, the wind is shifting. People are standing up. People are speaking up. People are exercising their rights and calling for a stop to this foolish plan. Money isn't the be-all, end-all that the developers believe it to be. Some people care about the whole picture, and not just the short-term monetary gains. I hope the town of Carthage will recognize that there is much more value in its resources-- both human and 'natural'-- than there is value in being the temporary recipient of hand-outs from a for-profit company who is reaping its rewards from American workers' hard-earned tax money.
Respectfully,

Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., ME

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spanish Wind on Maine's Mountains


Well, I knew this day was coming. Knew it was inevitable. Like a runaway freight train, industrial wind has been bearing down on the mountains of Maine. For the last ten months, I have been fighting for my neighbors, and for the People and the Mountains of Maine, in general.

But on Tuesday, Lexington Township received notification that Iberdrola, the Spanish company which owns Central Maine Power Company, has submitted a permit application to LURC (Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission) for permission to erect meteorological towers on Fletcher Mountain, in Concord (to my rear [or north, for those of you who don’t know which way my rear is usually pointed]) and on a ridge just behind Peaked Hill… which stands only a mile or so west from The F.A.R.M.

I’ve been accused of being a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) for months. I’ve worn that title with pride: for if I, and others like me, don’t defend our back yards, who will? Certainly not the state government now in power… it has paved the way for these intrusive, environmentally damaging and economically unfeasible monstrosities to be built with a minimum of scrutiny or oversight. I have, in fact, been proud to be a NIMBY, although I often prefer to think the acronym stands for “Not In MAINE’S Back Yard”.

Now, however, it IS going to be in MY back yard. On MY door step. In MY view shed. Within MY range of hearing. I thought this was “personal” BEFORE. I was wrong.

Now, this is “personal”.

I feel like raging. Feel like ranting to Whomever is in charge of the Cosmos—a small part of which includes Lexington Township and my family home. But ranting and raving and wailing don’t—and won’t--accomplish much, short of making me look like a half-dipped dipstick.

But the question is: What WILL accomplish the goals of those who have taken it upon themselves to try to avert disaster for the state of Maine?

I have never, ever witnessed a group of people work so long and so hard and with such dedication as the Wind Warriors of Maine have been working. Are we having an impact? Yes. Absolutely! We are educating more Mainers every single day about the realities of industrial wind. But are we winning? Oh, brother.

BIG Brother, to be more specific.

How do we fight something so huge and powerful, and something that has been sanctioned and shepherded into the state by our own government? Day by day, I’m learning how to fight it… but am I learning how to win? Is winning even possible??

You bet yer a$$ it is!

I absolutely refuse to believe that the people of Maine are powerless! I cannot accept that common sense has gone the way of the dodo bird. And I’m getting fed up with being lied to and of not being consulted when our money is being spent and our quality of life is being disregarded. Most especially when what it’s being traded for will not benefit the people of Maine-- or anyone, realistically.

If we were in a fair fight, we’d win. If we were slightly out-numbered and out-gunned, we’d be victorious. But we are up against an industry with money and power, and a government that’s doing its best to push mountaintop industrial wind all across this state. In order to change policy at the top level, we have to find very courageous legislators who will stand up and do the right thing. There are a few out there, but there are not enough. Not yet.

Unfortunately, it often comes down to one thing. Re-election. If the tide turns and enough Mainers cry ‘Foul!” our senators and representatives will have to listen. Otherwise, they’ll be out of a job. We need to write letters to them. We need to fill the newspapers with factual articles. We need to have an advertising campaign and the money to fund it. We need our experts to stay the course and continue to look at real data… and REPORT that data. And we need to do all of this… NOW!

November is coming. This is an election year. This is also the Year of the Wind. Everywhere one looks across this state, small towns and townships with no zoning ordinances (or worse, under LURC jurisdiction and in the ‘expedited wind energy zone’) are being targeted by wind developers who are hoping to build their grid scale energy plants and collect our tax dollars. Some of them are desperate… barely hanging onto solvency, if news articles are to be believed. So… they NEED those subsidies.

And WE need to be vigilant.

The truth is out there. The truth is reaching more people every day. But to save the mountains of Maine, we need to step up our efforts. We need more enthusiastic and committed individuals to help spread the facts. To ask for support from their legislators. To demand accounting from wind companies, and from any government agency involved in the siting and permitting of wind turbines.

It’s time to stop the foolishness and the waste, and the corruption.

I knew this day was coming, and now… it’s here. Who has time to blog? I’ve got work to do! I think I’ll start by having a word with my senator; Peter Mills of Cornville, Maine. If you’d like to do the same, he can be reached at pmills@mainelegal.net. I’m sure he’d be happy to hear from you…

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Can I add a P.S. to my blog? Today I heard, from a third source in as many weeks, that members of the Maine Guides' Association have been instructed to support land-based industrial wind. They have been warned against opposing wind developments on the mountains of this state. Maine Guides have been told that if they oppose industrial wind, they will lose their rights to bait on public land. Now, this is hear-say. I don't know if it's true. I don't WANT to believe it, but I have a feeling that it is based in fact. So... maybe I've changed my mind. Maybe my FIRST contact will be with someone in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Perhaps Commissioner Roland Martin. If anyone else is curious, I'm sure he'd be pleased to answer any questions you might have. He can be reached at :

Commissioner Roland Martin
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0041

And while you're at it, maybe you could ask him what studies are being conducted on bird deaths due to collisions with turbine blades, and bat deaths due to barotrauma. That'd be good to know..

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Way It's Done...

The following op-ed will run in today's edition of the Brunswick Times Record...

It was with intense interest that I read the expose on LD2283, the “Expedited Wind Permitting Law” by Naomi Schalit of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. In October, 2009, I learned of the law’s origin and was disturbed by the fact that it was rushed through the Legislature as an ‘emergency measure’ in 15 short days, with no debate, and with not a single member of the Legislature voting against it.

This law fast-tracks industrial wind development in the high terrain regions of Maine--by eliminating citizens’ automatic right to a public hearing, by removing our ability to object to development based on scenic impact, and by allowing what I consider to be state-sanctioned bribery (couched as ‘tangible benefits’ and ‘mitigation’) by industrial wind developers of individuals and entities who may be impacted by massive wind turbines on our iconic ridges. Read LD2283 in its entirety at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_123rd/billtexts/SP090801.asp

I live in Lexington Township, which stands to be greatly impacted by LD2283. Former governor Angus King and Rob Gardiner of Brunswick’s ‘Independence Wind’ have submitted a permit application—to be reviewed under this new law—for a 48 turbine development at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail. Local residents have also heard of plans to continue the line of industrial wind down through Lexington to Brighton, Mayfield, and beyond. In order to meet Governor Baldacci’s goal of 2,700 megawatts of land-based wind power by 2020, another 300 miles of Maine’s mountains will be sacrificed, as well.


Maine citizens weren’t consulted before this misguided and biased law was enacted. As an ‘emergency measure’ we didn’t have time to make our objections known before it was implemented. What is now apparent is that the wind industry hugely influenced the crafting of this law. In a letter from Rob Gardiner to Alec Giffen, chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, Gardiner lists his recommendations for how to write a law which would give wind developers the advantage over Maine citizens, forestalling their objections to wind developments.

Gardiner states: “In my opinion, the biggest sticking point is visual impact. Under the standard of "fitting harmoniously into the environment", wind is at a serious disadvantage. Because it involves 250' high structures that are usually on high ridges, the visual impacts are significant.” (Gardiner’s own permit application states that the turbines destined for Highland stand over 400 feet tall, creating a more serious ‘disadvantage’ --and those visual impacts will be far, far more significant.)

“An immediate executive order followed by legislation that specifically removes the presumption of negative visual impact from wind farms would go a long way toward setting the stage for balanced regulatory review.”

“A second element of such executive order and legislation should be to declare that reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is a public benefit, and that wind farms can make a significant contribution toward a more sensible energy mix for Maine. Therefore, any regulatory agency should accept these positions and not waste time receiving further evidence and debating them. To the extent that regulators are charged with balancing the benefits of any project against the negative impacts, these beneficial aspects should be "a given" for wind farms.”

Further directions given to Giffen: “…wind farms ought not to be expected to help purchase conservation lands or do other types of mitigation. Wind farms ARE mitigation for our energy consumption habits and for the impacts of fossil fuel consumption.”

“I understand that preserving Maine's "quality of place" is an important goal for your task force. I fully accept that having wind farms everywhere might ruin that quality.”

“I recognize that LURC feels overwhelmed… This may need attention, but it is a short-term phenomenon. Don't change the rules, provide the necessary resources. The Governor can do that... But creating a new agency or shifting responsibilities will, in actuality, make it harder for developers.” (Read Gardiner’s entire letter at: http://highlandmts.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/comments_rob_gardiner_120607.pdf)

Impartial experts are speaking out about the negligible ecological benefits of industrial wind. After two decades of experimentation around the globe, there’s been no significant reduction in carbon emissions. Electrical consumption is constant, but wind is undependable and intermittent; therefore, conventional electrical generators must be kept on-line to take up the slack when the wind doesn’t blow. Because of the extremely inefficient combustion from the modulating in-fill of natural gas backup for wind plants, it’s possible that we may actually be increasing overall fossil fuel use.

The Wind Industry has repeatedly told us that wind will get Maine off “foreign oil”. However, Maine does not use oil to generate electricity, but rather--to heat our homes and power our automobiles; two applications that even John Kerry and Phil Bartlett acknowledge aren’t addressed by wind power. To say that we’ll reduce our dependence on oil if we install wind turbines across Maine is misleading.

Ms. Schalit’s fact-based series is a wake-up call. In light of these revelations, Maine citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by this legislation are requesting an immediate moratorium on wind plant construction and a careful reexamination of LD2283 by our Legislature.

www.highlandmts.org
www.windtaskforce.org

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"It's All About That View"...


“It's all about that view,” Baldacci said, staring out over the tops of trees at Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the Bemis Mountain Range.

“That view says 'Maine,'" Baldacci said. "It gives people an inspiration and it's going to be that way forever.”

But... it's NOT going to be that way forever. Not if Governor Baldacci has his way. The governor is directly responsible for LD2283, the "Expedited Wind Permitting Law" which removed the public's right to object to a wind turbine development based on its scenic impact.

This law can be view in its entirety at : http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_123rd/billtexts/SP090801.asp

It is unconscionable that our administration has sold our mountaintops to industrial wind developers, who had a direct hand in writing this misguided law. One example of how a wind developer contributed to the fashioning of this law can be found at: http://highlandmts.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/comments_rob_gardiner_120607.pdf

These two documents tell a story that few Mainers are aware of.

Governor Baldacci is selective in what bit of view says "Maine". When he wants money for a scenic turn-out, then the view from there of Mooselook and beyond is priceless, and has value--not only in its beauty, but in its economic draw. But if he wants money from industrial wind (or 'energy'... the field in which he hopes to work once his term is up in January) then the view of mile upon mile upon mile of 400-foot tall turbines and mile after mile after mile of high voltage transmission corridors must also say "Maine".

Governor Baldacci needs to stop being so selective and make up his mind. Or better yet, since he's proven over and over again to the people of this state that he does not have the ability to put that mind to work for the betterment of the citizens and the natural resources of Maine, he should resign now.

Please, sir. Resign... while this is still, "Maine... the way life SHOULD be".

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Photo of Baldacci copyrighted by The Irregular newspaper....

A Lift... and a Slam


I had a doctor’s appointment the other day. No big deal, right? Just one of those ‘maintenance’ issues which needed to be addressed. Every once in awhile the trim on my temple needs to be scraped and repainted, that’s all. I drove the forty-five miles to Waterville, locked my teenage boy in the truck with his Game Boy and with stern instructions regarding the consequences of taking Mum’s truck for a joy ride at thirteen years of age.

I entered the office building and looked at the large sign on the wall which told patients where each doctor’s office was located. My doc was in Suite 204. Okay. Second floor, room four. No prob.

There were no stairs within sight, but an elevator was directly to my left. I pushed the “UP” button. The door opened. I stepped inside. The door closed.

Many of you who know me personally know that I battle a little bit with claustrophobia. There are several incidents in my earlier years to which I can attribute this, but it’s really not important. The ‘condition’ is not debilitating. I simply know my limits. I can attend a crowded party, as long as I know where the exit is, so that I can step outside for a calming breath of fresh air and a gander at a wide open sky. I can shop in a crowded market… just not for an extended amount of time. I need to go straight to the items on my list, and from there to the checkout counter. No squeezing melons or comparing prices for me. And… I can ride in an elevator. As long as the ride is quick, and I’m not hemmed into a back corner by the bulks of strangers’ bodies. (Actually, I can do and have done it… I just don’t like it.)

I was the only person in the elevator. Perfect! I pushed the button for the second floor and waited to reach my destination… waited for the door to open. While I waited, I read the signs posted on the walls of the elevator.

“In case of Fire…” Well, there wasn’t much chance of that, was there?

“In case of a power outage…” Well… the day was sunny, but not hot. No thunderstorms in the forecast, and we weren’t likely to overload the system due to excessive demand, either. Air conditioner usage would be at a minimum.

“Elevator capacity…” I did a quick calculation and decided that the elevator could easily support me and eight and a half others of my size before snapping its tether and plummeting all the way from the second floor to… the first. I looked around me, though. There was NO WAY that the tiny lift could hold nine and a half people without those other eight and a half being incredibly familiar with each other-- and with me. We would have to be chest-to-back and butt-to-front in order to squeeze into that tiny cubicle.

I drew a deep breath. There was nothing to worry about. I was alone in the tiny, enclosed, windowless space, after all. With all kinds of instructions on what to do if catastrophe struck…

Why hadn’t those doors opened? Seriously, I could have climbed that one flight of stairs a dozen times in the moments while I waited for the light over the door to illuminate the “TWO”. My brow furrowed. The number “two” actually WAS lit up. What did that mean? If I’d reached the second floor, why weren’t the doors opening?

Power outage? No. If the electricity had gone out, the floor indicator would have been dark. Right? And the ceiling light wouldn’t be illuminating the undersized and over-rated compartment, either…

I pushed the “two” button again. Just for good measure.

Had I felt the “lift’ of the elevator as it transported me the twelve to fifteen feet from the ground floor to the second? I didn’t recall. I’d been intent on reading the notices posted for my safety.

My safety. I was safe. Of course I was. What was there to be concerned about? It’s not like a woman can die by dropping twelve to fifteen feet! My friend Patty once challenged me to jump out of our tree-house, and that was easily twelve feet off the ground! At least twelve feet! I hadn’t died that day, had I? Of course not! Naturally, in my chicken-livered state (but never one to back down from a challenge) I DID get an awesome splinter in my butt as I sat on the edge and shimmied out to the precipice, and then got another sliver in my belly as I turned around, slid bum-first off the side and dangled, hanging by my fingertips, to reduce to the utmost, the distance between my feet and that unforgiving terra-very-firma…

But the impact hurt. I remember that. Oh, I acted all tough and “See??? It’s no big deal! Now… YOU do it!” (I’ve never figured out which was more idiotic… the fact that I took the dare and jumped, or that I believed her when she said, “If YOU do it, I will…”)

So. Now I knew I’d survive the fall from the second floor to the first… but I also knew I’d be one hurting woman after the fact. I could live with that. If… if I could get out of there, afterwards. There were no guarantees, though. Nothing that said that the force of the landing would blow open the doors and allow that necessary, life-giving oxygen a chance to revitalize the partially, temporarily crippled woman I would soon become.

I jabbed the “two” button, again. I felt my breathing shorten and quicken. Aw, dang it. I was NOT going to get myself into a panic. Not, not, NOT!

Not!!!

In a last ditch attempt to save myself the indignation of being the first OB/GYN patient to give birth to a cow in an elevator, I took a drastic measure. I hit the “open door” button. It was time to see what the inside of an elevator shaft looked like. Maybe I could climb some wall-mounted ladder to the next landing and still arrive at my appointment on time.

I was really glad I hadn’t worn a dress.

To my relief and satisfaction, the doors opened. I quickly stepped from the miniscule and gloomy enclosure, thankful that I wasn’t between floors. I read the wall-mounted sign, practically identical to the one in the lobby. The arrow showed the way to my doctor’s office, and I scurried to the gynecologist’s suite. I’d made it.

An hour later, my checkbook one co-payment lighter, I emerged. I walked the hall--back towards the elevator which was either mal-functioning, or the slowest conveyance on earth. Trepidation caused my heart-rate to accelerate, but it was nothing I couldn’t tolerate. I am brave, after all. No stinking elevator is going to get the best of ME!

As I rounded the corner, I spied the parking lot, straight ahead through the glass doors. The same glass doors though which I’d entered an hour earlier. The same parking lot in which I’d parked my truck and left my son—the son who never knew how close he’d come to losing his mother in a tragic elevator accident.

I turned around and looked at the wall. The sign wasn’t NEARLY identical to the one on the ground floor… it WAS the one on the ground floor.

The second floor was the ground floor. I’d never gone anywhere. I’d entered the elevator and pushed a button which told the lift to go nowhere. To stay still. To rest in peace… while its occupant felt anything BUT!!

I laughed. What else could I do? Seriously… where else but in Maine is the ground floor of an office building called the second floor? I’ll just bet that in some far away state like Massachusetts, the basement is called “the basement” and not “Level One”!!

I was still grinning (mostly in relief for not having to brave my way through another elevator ride) when I reached the truck. Eli looked up from his game.

“Hey,” he said, over-enthusiastic at my arrival. “What’s so funny?”

“Oh,” I snickered as I started the engine, “your mother’s an idiot, that’s all.”

He went back to his game.

“Hmmm. And… that cost you how much?”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!


Well, here it is. The first anniversary of Grumbles and Grins! For those of you who have been following my blog since its inception, you’ll know that it is also my wedding anniversary. Mr. Grumbles and I have had seventeen years of wedded bliss.

And my first posting to GAG, “A Deer in the Headlights”, documented just how easy we each are to live with.

I teased Mr. Grumbles unmercifully in that first article. See… he’d forgotten our anniversary. And he tried like the dickens to wiggle his way out of it, too! He even pronounced that last August 14th was not, in fact, August 14th! The days were all screwed up—that was all there was to it!

Awww. My poor husband! He really has a lot to contend with. He works hard at his job. Very hard. He’s also raising children and working a small homestead. He’s involved in the Water District in New Portland, and the New Portland Historical Society, and the Lexington History House, here at home. He creates beautiful crafts from things found in our great outdoors and is working on finding a market for them, so that he can have an income-producing hobby which he truly enjoys when he retires. (Keep watch for “The Forest Floor”!) Add to all that: He has to live with ME!

I know, I know… you all are positive that I must be an absolute joy to live with! And… you wouldn’t be far from wrong.

But you’d be wrong.

As hard as it is to imagine, I am a woman with faults. I am absent-minded. I am single-minded. Once I get the bit between my teeth on certain things, I run. I tend to ignore all else (and everyone else) until I’ve crossed the finish line-- leading by a neck, at least.

That means that sometimes, the house is messy. The laundry, while clean and dry, might not get folded for a day or two. Supper might sometimes be cold pizza… or frozen pizza. And Mr. Grumbles might speak to me for twenty minutes, saying deep and meaningful things, and while I hear the words, I might not have listened to them. He drones on and I nod and smile, but my fingers are typing and my mind is a thousand miles away.

And he knows it is. But he loves me, anyway.

I suppose I can’t accuse him of forgetting our anniversary this year. This time, I tried to make it a little easier for him. I tucked a card under his glasses last night when I went to bed, so that he’d see it upon waking. So that he’d have a moment or two of grace in which to compose a plan to show that he’d remembered.

He was up and out-the-door at the crack of dawn and I didn’t roll out of bed until 6:30. When I went downstairs to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, I found a card from Mr. Grumbles on the sideboard.

How sweet.

As I write this, I am laughing. He knows me so well, and honestly? This beats the heck out of a Wal-Mart card, any day! And just to enhance his gift with a bit of the mundane, he left a list with his particular needs at the grocery store; toilet paper and coffee filters. Ah... I love that man. :o)


I’ll share just a couple of the many photos taken on the day we married in 1993. In regards to the gentleman with the goat and the sack of turnips… well, you see; Mr. Grumbles formally asked my father for my hand in marriage. It was an old-fashioned courtesy, but done somewhat in jest, too. I was a single mother, previously married, and I was completely self-supporting. I hadn’t lived at home with Mum and Dad for almost twelve years. But my fiancĂ© did the ‘right thing’ and he and my father had a merry old time trying to negotiate my ‘bride price’ or dowry. Dad thought he ought to get something out of the arrangement. At one point, a camel was mentioned… I remember that. (Dad has ALWAYS wanted a camel. And a bulldozer, too. But I digress…)

Finally, the two men, pleased with their haggling ability and one-upsmanship, came to an agreement. Mr. Grumbles could ‘have’ me for the bargain price of… one goat, and a sack of turnips.

And the Peases always keep their side of a bargain!

Yes, Mr. Grumbles has put up with a lot from me over the years. And, he’s put up with my family and the somewhat eccentric group of friends I brought into the fold, as well. For the most part, he’s a prince among men.

But when it comes to remembering significant dates, he’s hopeless.

Still… I think I’ll keep him.






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Photo with goat: Dad checking out the turnips ("A little wormy, ain't they?") and back-to is a good friend, the 'keeper of the goat', Richard Jordan, whose job it was to hide in the corn patch with Popcorn (the goat) and the burlap sack until Mr. Grumbles' presentation was made...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Contest: 104 GAGs, $104.00 for Charity


Hello, my friends! Welcome to the 104th posting to Grumbles and Grins!

I’d intended to write something special for my 100th posting. That’s a grand number—one hundred—and so I thought it only apt that I celebrate, somehow.

But… life got in the way. And so did issues which have become an important part of my life, lately.

I thank you all for your forbearance. When I started Grumbles and Grins, I was not involved in the effort to stop the industrialization of Maine’s mountains. I was simply a wife, mother, business owner and writer. I am still all of those things, but I’ve taken on a new role… a new duty. And GAG has become a part-time medium in which to ‘spread the word’.

But!!! One’s life cannot consist of work and duty and responsibility, only. Can it? (Please say ‘no’…)

No! It can’t!

There is a proper balance to be found--and I work every day to find it.

So… to commemorate the 100th (oh, fine! The 104th!) posting to GAG, I am holding another contest.

No autographed copies of Grumble Bluff, and no Maine t-shirts to be had for prizes, this time. Nope. THIS time, we’re ‘giving back’. This time, the winner of my contest will be able to direct me to pay $100.00-- a dollar per posting-- to the charity of their choice. Or the person of their choice—someone who is deserving of a little assistance, but who is, perhaps, too proud to ask.

Okay! Okay!! A buck a posting doesn’t equal $100.00! You’re right…it equals $104.00.

So, now we know what the prize is. The next question? What is the contest?

Well… honestly? I had such fun with the answers you gave to my ‘Name That Caption’ contest, that I simply have to try it again. The problem is… I hate to have my photo taken, so the photo options are fairly limited. So, what I’ll do is go into my “pictures” file and see what I can come up with. I'm sure there are some terrible ones I can embarrass myself with, and I'll include them in this post. You can choose the photo and create a caption. And the one that tickles the funny bone of Mr. Grumbles the most… wins. Just don’t tell him I’m awarding $104.00 to the winner, okay? If he knows that, he’ll be able to justify not buying me anything for our anniversary. And if you’ve been a follower of GAG since its inception last August, you’ll understand why that’s a touchy subject, around here.  

Right. That’s as easy as they come. Pick a photo. Tell me which one it is (I’ll number them) and then write a caption. You can enter as many times as you’d like. Or as few. (Of course, the more times you enter, the better your chances to win…)

Be thinking about who (or what) you’d like to see receive $104.00, and enter today! The contest will only last until August 14th--one week from today--unless I get busy. If that happens, then it will end when Ali g calls a halt to it. (He expects to win, you know. And the benefactors, if he does? Some needy subjects named Claude, Tigger and Wookie. In keeping with the theme, between the three of them, I’ll bet they weigh 104 pounds.)

Good night, my friends. Take it easy on me, will you? (You're not going to take it EASY on me, are you??? I didn't think so! Now that's more like it!)

Love,
Kaz
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Photo #1


Photo #2


Photo #3


Photo #4

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Writer When I Grow Up


I want to be a writer when I grow up. That's what I've ALWAYS wanted to be. I've made some progress... at least, as far as the writing part of that goal is concerned. The growing up? Well, that's a subjective phrase, isn't it? Some friends and family members would tell you that I will never grow up, while others will say that I am the most mature, responsible woman in the Township. I suppose there's a little bit of truth in each assessment.

The other day, I caught myself telling my pal Jack that I "missed writing". That I hadn't written anything for a year... not since I completed the third book in the Grumble Bluff series. And when I repeated that comment to Mr. Grumbles, he looked at me as if I'd just grown antlers and a wattle.

"You can't be serious!" he said.

He's right to act bemused and incredulous. To Mr. Grumbles and my children, it seems as if ALL I've done for the last year is write. Letters to the editor, articles for magazines and newspapers, and online comments. Letters and yard-long updates to almost fifty members of the Friends of the Highland Mountains. Requests for support and thank you notes to supporters. Entreaties for help. Rebuttals to this person and congratulations to that one. Papers on one topic and documents on another. Write, write, write...

And that's the truth. I have never, in fact, composed and written more than I have in the past year. And while what I've written might not be that which I dearly long to write, it has all been important, nonetheless. There is a purpose to the work that I've done.

I suppose it's important to every writer that her words are read. But much of what I've written gets buried, due to the nature of the effort I am involved in-- the battle to stop the industrialization of Highland Plantation's mountains, and then...Maine's other mountains beyond my backyard. The Wind Industry has an advantage. They advertize in many of this state's newspapers and magazines and as a result, I believe that their 'side' gets preferential treatment. If I am wrong, I will publicly apologize... but I don't believe I am. Too many times, the arguments FOR industrial wind are given print space, and too rarely is the opposition given the same treatment. So... we do what we can, where we can, and we hope that it has an impact. If an online comment is read by only ten people, and one of those people is in a position to help us, then the time and effort will have been worth it.

Below is a letter which appeared in this morning's Sun Journal. Following that is the online comment I made. Perhaps ten people read it. You make the eleventh.

Thanks for that!

Love, Kaz
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Utilize all resources

By Richard K. Jennings, MD

Published Aug 05, 2010 12:00 am | Last updated Aug 05, 2010 12:00 am


Many voices are needed in support of meeting the challenge of our changing climate, with all the accompanying effects on health, environment and the lives of our children and grandchildren. There have been numerous highly emotional pleas from “friends...” of this and that, yet none of them say what a real friend would say, and what we might not want to hear.

Mitigating and adapting to climate change demands every possible resource we have, and wind power is one of those, (along with solar, geothermal, hydro, biomass, nuclear and, most important of all, conservation).

Surprisingly, however, there are highly intelligent folk out there who choose to resist wind for many reasons, only two of which are valid, i.e., turbines do change the view, and they do make noise. A true friend will tell you this, and then go on to say to make a gain we have to make a sacrifice; and the true friend will also tell you that there is no medical support for the claims of negative health effects, even though, to my personal embarrassment, some of my colleagues have stated such.

I recall in the 1950s when seat belts were introduced, it took the support of the medical profession to educate the public to comply. The time has come again when we physicians must educate the people of Maine as to the value of wind as part of the “silver buckshot” that we need, as a friend, to deal with the threat of climate change.

Richard K. Jennings, MD, Fayette
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'Friend' speaks up about Big Wind and Health

Submitted by Karen Pease on Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:19.

Aw, doc. You're doing it again. Do you have any idea how many people ask, "Why doesn't Dr. Jennings get it? Why won't he LISTEN to people... to PATIENTS? " That, sir, is the sign of a true doctor, a good doctor. A doctor who adheres to his oath. He listens to the complaints of the people he's sworn to try to heal and nurture.

Surely, you can not reasonably ignore the many, many people who have legitimate complaints? Have you ever actually SPOKEN to any of them? If you are TRULY interested in being a friend and a doctor, please contact me. I can put you in direct contact with many people whose health is being adversely affected by industrial wind. No human being could listen and not be moved... not be concerned. No matter how often you say it isn't so, the facts don't change. You do the people of Maine a disservice by using your degree to try to sound like an expert in the area of industrial wind and its associated health risks without first treating the patients affected. We are inclined to believe the words of a man with an MD after his name. Please do not take advantage of the PEOPLE by speaking on this topic until you have interviewed a host of individuals who are suffering from maladies associated with industrial wind turbines.

You did your best to disrupt the forum I spoke at in Brunswick. I allowed you to have your say, even though a true gentleman would have gone to the trouble to arrange his OWN forum rather than try to take over one which was put together by hard-working activists who BELIEVE what they are doing-- who BELIEVE they are right. Because, you see... we listen to the experts... those who are unbiased and have nothing to gain (and often, much to lose) by speaking out and sharing the FACTS they have discovered. Your 'silver buckshot' reference, sadly, makes me wonder if you have a stake in Angus King's projects, as that is one of his standard tag lines when trying to sell his product. I hope that's not the case. I hope it is simply that you are too set in your ways, or too stubborn to listen to opposing views and give them credence... For a stubborn man can relent, and will gain the respect of his peers by admitting he was wrong. Some of our legislators have done that very thing.

You belittle your fellow citizens who have spent months researching industrial wind by pretending to know what our motivations are. While scenic impact in this beautiful mountainous region is certainly an important factor to take into account, due to the potential economic fall-out and Mainers' hard-sought 'quality of place', the 'view' is simply NOT the issue of paramount importance to many of us.

If it was proven to you that IW was NOT economically feasible, if we could show you research done by scientists and physicists that shows IW does NOT reduce dependence on fossil fuels or reduce carbon emissions-- would you then begin to question the intelligence of destroying our high terrain and fragile ecosystems? If we could show you that property values in the vicinity of IW plummet-- sometimes as much as 40% or more, would that convince you to stop touting Big Wind as 'silver buckshot'?

Seriously, sir... we have access to FACTS-- facts that the people of Maine deserve to know. If you are a caring man and professional, surely you will avail yourself of the resources we can provide to you. Surely you can then put your title of 'doctor' to its best possible use, and begin to help heal the wounds this misguided plan has created across this wonderful state.

I urge you not to be stubborn-- not to be too set in your ways to consider information from sources other than the wind industry. They have millions of dollars at stake-- they are biased and have a huge conflict of interest. Please give heed to those who are selflessly trying to educate a public which has been misled and taken advantage of. Simply tell me what specific topics you would like to learn more about, and I will put you in touch with experts and reference materials. You will grow in the estimation of many if you keep an open mind and disseminate the facts rather than the Industry's propaganda. I look forward to working with you on this issue, if you so desire. I am not an expert, and have no title with which to garner respect. But I am an American and a Mainer who is committed to taking care of my native state and those who call it 'home'.

Respectfully Submitted, Karen Pease, Lexington Twp., ME

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A quick 'hello' and thank you to gempaint, a follower of GAG from South Carthage and another wind warrior who commented on Dr. Jennings' letter. Keep up the good work, woman!!!

The two bottom photos are of just a few of the many 'friends' who do not agree with Dr. Jennings. I warrant that any one of them would be more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences with the good doctor.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Unbelievable! (Sadly... No, It's Not!)


On Tuesday, August 3rd, I got wind of a motion filed by Trans-Canada, the industrial wind developer who is attempting to get a permit to extend its Kibby Mountain project over to Sisk Mountain, in Chain of Ponds Township. This is the letter I wrote in response... and I sent it to each of the state's daily newspapers, asking them to please publish on Wednesday morning.

To the best of my knowledge, no one did.

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At their July meeting, LURC commissioners took a ‘straw vote’ to see how the board stood on Trans-Canada’s permit application to develop Sisk Mountain. After a 5-2 vote to deny, they ordered LURC Staff to prepare a decision document to that effect, with their official vote due to be made at the August 4th meeting in Bangor.

Since that time, the Wind Industry and its supporters have been scrambling, doing their utmost to influence the commissioners’ decision. People and entities such as Professor Orlando Delogu, who prepared reports for the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, Jay Wyman, a selectman in the town receiving the most ‘tangible benefits’ from Trans-Canada for the Boundary Mountains project, and Alison Hagerstrom of the Greater Franklin Development Corporation have been inundating the media with commentaries designed to sway the Board’s decision. Like schoolyard bullies who resort to unsavory tactics to make sure their will prevails, the Wind Industry called in its gang.

It was a mistake for the LURC Commissioners to take that straw vote. They opened themselves up to the castigation of industrial wind proponents. In addition, they provided Trans-Canada with a month-long grace period in which they could try to develop a new strategy to compel LURC to vote in their favor.

They certainly were not idly waiting for that official decision. On Friday, July 30th, in an 11th hour move, Trans-Canada submitted a motion to table the vote on the Denial decision and re-open the record so they can introduce an amendment to reduce the number of turbines in the Sisk project from fifteen to eleven, claiming such a change would significantly reduce environmental and scenic impacts.

In reality, such a change will simply reduce by a small amount the millions of tax-payer dollars with which Trans-Canada can line their pockets if their strong-arm tactics are successful and they convince LURC to sacrifice that high-terrain peak which casts its shadow over the unique and beautiful Chain of Ponds.

LURC must hold firm, stand up to the bullies, and do what’s right. They must stand by their decision to deny Trans-Canada’s permit application for the development of Sisk Mountain. ‘Might’ must not triumph over ‘right’.

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And THIS is what will be in this morning's Bangor Daily News!


Canadian firm to scale back Kibby Mountain wind project8/4/10 08:37 pm Updated: 8/4/10 08:40 pm
By Kevin Miller
BDN Staff


BANGOR, Maine — A Canadian energy firm is scaling back its expansion plans for Western Maine’s Kibby Mountain wind farm after state regulators made clear that they could not support placing an additional 15 turbines in the area.

TransCanada officials told the Land Use Regulation Commission on Wednesday that they plan to file a revised application removing the four southernmost turbines in the 15-turbine project. The project is proposed for Kibby and Chain of Ponds townships, approximately two miles from the second phase of the Kibby wind farm now under construction.

TransCanada’s attorney outlined the proposed changes on the same day that LURC was poised to deny the company’s permit request at its Bangor meeting. Despite opposition from the project’s critics, commissioners voted unanimously to table the issue in order to allow TransCanada to revise its application.

“This proposal is not lightly made,” said Juliet Browne, who represented TransCanada before the commission.

During a meeting last month, commissioners largely agreed with concerns raised by opponents that the proposed wind farm expansion would harm views from nearby lakes and trails.

In its written recommendation to the commission, LURC staff noted that while both the original Kibby project and the proposed expansion would “significantly compromise views,” the southern seven turbines within the proposed expansion would have “unreasonable adverse impact to the scenic character of the Chain of Ponds and of the Arnold Trail.”

Commissioners also voiced serious concerns that the southern half of the project would have unacceptable effects on the subalpine fir forests and the Bicknell’s thrush, a bird dependent on subalpine fir forests that the state lists as a “species of special concern.”

Several commissioners had indicated last month that they likely could support a project containing just the eight northern turbines because they had fewer effects on scenic views or subalpine forests. Browne said Wednesday that the eight-turbine project was not economically viable, however.

“We think this is very responsive to the commissioners’ concerns about reducing the subalpine impacts, reducing the impacts on Bicknell’s thrush and reducing the visual impacts on Chain of Ponds,” Browne said.

Critics of the 15-turbine project argued unsuccessfully against allowing TransCanada to revise its application so late in the process.

The most forceful statements came from Bob Weingarten, president of the organization Friends of the Boundary Mountains, who criticized TransCanada for seeking to revise and delay the project now after working hard to keep the project on the fast-track for so long.

Weingarten said the company’s inflexibility caused hardship to his small group of volunteers as they tried to share their views with the commission.

“TransCanada had months and months to change their proposal while the record was still open,” Weingarten said. “TransCanada had months and months to listen to the other side.”

The first 22 turbines of TransCanada’s Kibby wind farm are already operating, and the company is building another 22 turbines at the site.

Last month, three protesters with the group Maine EarthFirst! were arrested while blocking the road leading up to the company’s construction site. Maine EarthFirst! and other critics of industrial wind power contend that projects such as TransCanada’s destroy mountaintops and do little to offset the use of fossil fuels.

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Unbelievable! And yet, sadly... it's not.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Can We Fairly Fight These People?


I'm at a loss. I really am. Almost daily, proponents of industrial wind are granted a forum in our state's newspapers. We who oppose are (sometimes) allowed to post comments and rebuttals online, but the readership of those comments is small, while the number of those who read the paper (both online and in print) is exponentially much larger. On occasion, we can get a short, 300 word letter to the editor published, but it is almost impossible to convey necessary facts when we are so limited.

Professor Orlando Delogu wrote an article printed in today's Portland Press Herald, Maine's largest newspaper. I take exception to much of what he said. And... ME being ME, I had to write an article to rebut some of his statements.

The question that now presents itself is: Will the PPH grant ME a forum, like they did for Mr. Delogu? He is a 'professor emeritus' while I have a simple name with no title to follow it. I'd briefly considered adding "NIMBY Emeritus" after my name, just to see if that got a rise out of anyone at the newspaper, but decided against it. I want them to take me seriously, after all.

This is serious business.

Below is the commentary I've written. I'll try to submit it-- or some edited form of it-- to the PPH. We'll see what happens.

I'm not holding my breath.
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In Sunday’s Portland Press Herald, Professor Orlando Delogu unjustly railed at the Commissioners of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission. I take exception to much of what he wrote, even while respecting the professor’s superior qualifications to address issues of import. The article seems to be nothing but a last ditch effort to influence the vote on the Trans-Canada/Sisk permit application to be cast by the LURC Board on Wednesday.

Mr. Delogu would do well to look back to the time when LURC was formed before he castigates the commissioners for having ‘lack of vision’. LURC was established to “to preserve public health, safety, and welfare; to encourage the well-planned, multiple use of natural resources; to promote orderly development; and to protect natural and ecological values”. In questioning the wisdom of approving another large-scale development of one of Maine’s wild places, LURC is most certainly adhering to its ‘vision’ of protecting natural and ecological values.

While the professor was not on the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Energy, he did participate in the process, having been asked to prepare and present three papers to the full Task Force. “Wind Energy in Maine: An Assessment of Where We are Now” was also published in the Maine Lawyers Review. There seems to be no conflict of interest in his attempts to sway the Commissioners’ votes, so I don’t understand the professor’s castigation of this State entity. Surely his personal reputation will not be diminished if his words and recommendations aren’t given due import when LURC decides the fate of Sisk Mountain.

These are some of the points made by Professor Delogu with which I disagree.

“Mitigation” is not a solution. Maine’s governing bodies have unwisely sanctioned a system of bribery and payoffs to mollify those people and entities who have the courage to stand up and protest when harm is being done to our environment, or when a misguided plan is about to be implemented which will have deleterious effects on the people and natural resources of Maine. The ‘mitigation’ and ‘tangible benefits’ legalized in LD2283 make me ashamed of my leaders. State sanctioned bribery is not a solution.

The professor tries to make readers believe that wind developments will significantly boost Maine’s economy. He does not mention that a large portion of the money used to fund these projects will go directly to China and Denmark, where the turbines are manufactured. He doesn’t tell us that many of the millions spent on the industrialization of our mountains comes from our pockets, to begin with. Without subsidization from the government, developers readily admit that wind energy plants would not be financially feasible. Delogu fails to mention that the construction jobs created are temporary, that many of those workers are not from the localized area of the developments, and that the permanent, full-time jobs are minimal. As an example; the larger, 48 turbine development proposed for Highland Plantation will only provide four to six (4-6) full time jobs. This statistic comes from the developer’s own permit application. And one of those developers, Rob Gardiner, stated in a recorded meeting in Highland that most likely, the permanent jobs provided by the Highland project would not be given to locals, as the jobs are technical in nature. ‘Locals’ apparently aren’t qualified for such positions. In addition, Patriot Renewables, the developer of the Freedom wind project, stated in a public meeting in Carthage that most turbine manufacturers require that their own technicians maintain the turbines for the first couple of years after installation.
I’d like the professor to consider the potential benefits to Maine if those same tax-payer subsidies were used for conservation efforts. With Maine’s aging housing stock, we would reduce our consumption of electricity (as well as fossil fuels) by replacing windows and doors, insulating homes, and replacing inefficient furnaces and hot water heaters. Not only would this be a good way to conserve energy, but it would be great for our economy, as well--putting legions of local contractors, electricians and plumbers to work in a full-time, year-round capacity.

When the professor speaks of how the neighboring communities support the Sisk project, there are some facts that should be taken into consideration. He may have been at the LURC public hearings at Sugarloaf Mountain in May, and if so, I can understand how he might come to that conclusion. Trans-Canada had lined up a very impressive array of witnesses to speak in favor of the project. These witnesses included groups who had benefitted financially from the ‘tangible benefits’ which Trans-Canada handed out, including the Recreation Department in Stratton/Eustis, the Arnold Trail Expedition Club of Eustis, and the manager of Natanis Point Campground, which is on Maine Public Reserved Land. What is interesting is that according to the expedited permitting law, LD2283, it is supposed to be the ‘host’ community which receives tangible benefits, and not the surrounding communities. (See paragraph 3451, section 7, and section 10). In actuality, the existing and proposed industrial wind developments of Kibby and Sisk Mountains are not in the town of Eustis, but in Kibby Township and Chain of Ponds Township. So in this instance, it’s understandable that the ‘surrounding communities’ support the project. It does not affect them directly, and yet, they have been able to receive financial benefits because of it. Even so, I’ve spoken to several people in the community of Eustis. Not all are as enamored of these projects as the Wind Industry would have us believe.

When Delogu implied that Industrial Wind will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I cringed. That standard tag line has been thrown out by Wind advocates since Day One. In fact, only one percent of our electricity is produced by fossil fuels. Maine uses oil to heat many of our homes, and we use gasoline to run our vehicles. Electricity does not meet those demands. To tie wind in with Maine’s use of fossil fuels is imprudent and misleading, and to suggest that building industrial wind developments on Maine’s mountains will reduce military casualties or bring our soldiers home is unconscionable, and plays on the emotions of the family members of those who are fighting overseas. The two issues are not connected, and I find that even hinting of such things is a callous thing to do.

If the professor has truly done his homework, he will agree that there are significant problems in the assertion that wind energy will reduce carbon emissions. Scientists have come out with studies suggesting just the opposite. Since wind is erratic, intermittent and undependable, back-up generators must be employed for those times when the wind doesn’t blow. Back-up generators are placed in ‘spinning reserve’-- a less efficient and higher-polluting state-- while waiting to be ramped back up during those times when wind generators aren’t producing. In addition, in many places where industrial wind has gotten a stronger foothold, new fossil-fuel-based electrical plants are being built specifically to take up the slack. Wind energy is not currently well-adapted for inclusion into the grid, and this fact makes it not only very expensive, but suggests that wind is not as ‘green’ as our administration and the wind industry like to tout it as being.


There are many, many facts pertaining to industrial wind projects which the people of Maine do not know. The details discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg and I encourage impartial professionals such as Professor Delogu to research the facts and then, from their positions of authority and respect, to disseminate those facts to the citizens of this state. Rather than trying an eleventh hour attempt to influence the votes of state-appointed LURC Commissioners, those with the ability to control a public forum would serve us well to deal in facts obtained from non-biased sources.


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Photos are of Kibby Mountain, Kibby Township, Maine