Friday, April 22, 2011
Open for Business... but NOT For Sale!
Well, it is official. The State of Maine has re-established its credibility and integrity to the People of Maine. Wow, does that feel good!
As you know, I’ve recently expressed grave concerns about the ‘offer’ levied in the permit application of Highland Wind LLC (the limited liability corporation owned by former governor Angus King and Rob Gardiner) to Maine’s Department of Conservation. Highland Wind LLC is asking permission to construct a 39 turbine grid-scale wind energy facility atop the mountains of rural Highland Plantation. Under the ‘tangible benefits’ section of that application, the owners of Highland Wind LLC made this offer to the Agency which would be determining the fate of their multi-million dollar project:
“For the Maine Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands: Highland Wind will provide $1,040,000 to the Maine Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL)over a twenty year period, as a “donation for land or natural resource conservation” pursuant to 35-A MRSA §3451 (1-C) (C). This land or natural resource conservation will be comprised of two Elements:…”
In layman’s terms, Highland Wind LLC was offering a bribe to the very Agency which will be deciding the fate of their development. That was unacceptable. At best—it created a conflict of interest. At worst… it was a blatant bribe. So you can imagine the delight I felt when the following “Agency Comment” was published on LURC’s website today:
“BPL (Bureau of Parks and Lands) declines to accept this proposal. The Bureau’s current policy is to remain neutral in these proceedings, and acceptance of such benefits is viewed as a conflict of interest…”
Acceptance of such benefits is viewed as a conflict of interest….Oh, yeah.
You can’t blame me for smiling when I read that, can you? I hope not. For, you see, concerned citizens have been trying to engage our State Agencies in this ‘wind’ issue for years, and we’d almost given up hope of receiving anything other than politically correct answers which circumvented the real issues. But here, finally, we have proof that a State Agency recognized when it was being put into a compromising situation.
I don’t know about others, but my faith is slowly being restored. Last week the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife submitted comments detailing exactly how the Highland project would pose a significant threat to several threatened and endangered species. And today, the Department of Conservation made it clear that it would not be a party to extortion.
Maine may be “Open For Business” but it is not “For Sale”.
Yep. There’s hope for us, yet.