Sunday, February 27, 2011
In the Words of a King-- "It's all about the View"
Former governor Angus King and his partner, Rob Gardiner have once again submitted a permit application to LURC for a 39 turbine grid-scale wind energy plant on Highland’s mountains, at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail. Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission determined Highland Wind LLC’s application was complete on February 23, 2011, even though that application is NOT complete, as evidenced in news articles in Friday’s Kennebec Journal and Portland Press Herald.
Mr. King is wasting our tax-payer money by continually submitting permit applications which fall short of the requirements for completion. LURC staffers have already spent countless hours reading each of his applications. The Commissioners have already had to rule that HW LLC’s first application be pulled and the ‘expedited clock’ stopped. If ordinary citizens can read an application and determine that it is lacking, I assume that Mr. King, Mr. Gardiner and their attorneys know the same thing.
I suppose the applicants hope to have the missing data and documentation and road crossing permits in hand before LURC rules on whether or not to grant them a permit for their project—but that’s not the way this works. The burden of submitting a completed application rests with the applicant. Not with the LURC staff. Not with the interveners in the case. Not with the citizens of Maine. And yet, it is we who are paying the price while this limited liability development company tries to get its ducks in a row. The Section 1603 cash grants for these projects will expire in December, and those no-strings-attached grants are huge. Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner will lose out on millions of free tax-payer dollars if they do not receive approval, and soon.
So they play games and waste our resources in the hopes that it will all work out okay for them in the end.
I predict that it won’t. I believe that Mainers are waking up to the realities of this scheme to line over 350 miles of our mountain ridges with expensive and intrusive industrial turbines which produce power that is unreliable, intermittent, cannot be stored, and for which our grid was not designed. I believe that the people of Somerset County have the courage and the strength of character to stand up and make common sense decisions. Sound science and economics do not support the notion of mountaintop industrial wind in Maine.
The following quotes are from Angus King, taken from his video, “A Vision for Maine—Inauguration 1995”.
"We certainly can do tourism better. Just to our south, to the north, and across the ocean are millions of mobile, affluent and time-pressed individuals who would love Maine if we could get them here, first. But we must think strategically about tourism-- spreading out the seasons and the locations where we welcome visitors. In the process of rebuilding Maine, we must never compromise our environment... Our final natural resource is our QUALITY OF LIFE. We have what the world wants... creative and hard-working people, an unspoiled natural environment and a civil society that works..... We share a common heritage. We share a common stewardship of the land. We share a common pride in an extraordinary place called Maine....and the best of Maine-- a land of deep woods, jagged coasts and people of integrity--will endure and flourish."
The former governor wanted to encourage tourism. “We have what the world wants,” he said. I urge Mainers to visit First Wind’s ongoing destruction of Rollins Mountain and Rocky Dundee in Lincoln, in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. Then picture the same thing happening all across this state. Estimates for this little rural corner of Somerset County are for upwards of 300 turbines. Everywhere we look, there they will be. Huge. Unnatural. Inefficient, intrusive, foreign-made machines. In every direction, we will see evidence of greed. Evidence of folly. Evidence of corporate-run state policies, rather than common-sense rule by the People. A tourist attraction? No.
This is another quote from Angus King, recorded in a meeting last May in Skowhegan.
"There's not a sound issue, there's not a health issue, there's not a bird issue, there's not a wildlife issue… No issues of wetlands.... we're not 'removing' anything-- we're MOVING...when you build a road, as I say, when you build roads, you cut out the high spots and fill in the low--we're moving a lot of earth, but nothing's being taken away from the mountains…”
This is an excerpt from the Highland Wind LLC permit application, submitted to LURC in December, 2010.
“A total of approximately 3.1 miles of existing logging roads are being rebuilt, and
approximately 15.1 miles of new roadway are being constructed. In addition, turbine sites must be graded to approximately level with no more than three percent cross slope. Table 12-1 below outlines the cut and fill requirements for the different portions of the Project. Roadway construction along with the 39 turbine pads results in the earthwork volumes listed below.”
Those turbine sites which must be ‘graded to approximately level’ are on the tops of Stewart, Witham and Bald Mountains, and Burnt and Briggs Hill. The total ‘cut’ from the project is estimated at 1,518,000 cubic yards. That’s more than 90,000 dump trucks’ worth of earth excavation for this one project. The ‘fill’ is listed as 1,438,900 cubic yards. It’s being blasted and excavated from the mountains, and then used to build 18 miles of slope-side roads and turbine pads. But, no. It’s not being ‘taken away from the mountains’.
And again from Angus King last May, when speaking about the Highland project:
"So-- it's all about the view. And the view is important because the Appalachian Trail goes over Bigelow....Stop by Mars Hill! It's cool! It really comes down to-- are we going to say 'no' to a half-billion dollar infrastructure project producing renewable energy because of the VIEW? I think that's the question. The interesting thing about this project--we're involved in some others-- the others have some different issues, but this one is really the view. And, you know...people throw in a lot of other stuff, but it's really about the view. What will the impact be? Well, it'll be visual--you judge.”
Mr. King, despite his continual assurances that this project is ‘all about the view’, knows better than that. His patronizing attitude is intended to gain him some support for his project. He hopes that if he repeats that tag line often enough, Mainers will look upon those of us who are opposing his project as selfish elitists who would put our ‘view’ before anything else. We who care about the big picture, and who have spent months researching the facts about industrial wind, oppose this project—and others—for a variety of reasons related to economics, the environment, residents’ healthy and quality of life, and Maine’s unique ‘quality of place’.
I once thought former governor King cared about those same things.