Bills Aim to Create 'Responsible' Offshore Wind Industry in ME
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Maine lawmakers are considering two pieces of legislation which supporters said are needed to ensure "responsible" development of offshore wind projects.
Legislative Document 1895 builds on the work of the state's Offshore Wind Roadmap, a multiyear process, and establishes a market for wind projects in Maine along with environmental and labor protections.
Francis Eanes, executive director of the Maine Labor Climate Council, said the bill ensures the state can better protect its lobstering and fishing communities by having a say in where offshore wind turbines are located.
"This is our ability to have a hand on the steering wheel," Eanes asserted. "To really make sure that what makes sense for Maine is heard loud and clear by the federal government as they are going about the process of developing these offshore-wind leases."
Eanes argued greater offshore-wind energy is needed to meet the state's ambitious climate goals, including reaching net-zero emissions by 2045. Some critics of the bill have said it does not fully address potential long-term impacts on Native American communities, or the gulf's ecosystem.
Backers of building an offshore-wind industry in Maine say it has the potential to create thousands of jobs, and building a port would allow the state to ensure developers commit to equitable hiring practices. Eanes noted another bill, Legislative Document 1818, would ensure quality union jobs for some of the state's most impoverished rural communities.
"From our tribal communities, from our new Mainer communities," Eanes explained. "Make sure that they have pathways to high-quality, livable wage jobs in this industry."
Eanes added the bill would also help Maine secure the permits and federal funding to build port facilities, and require operators to pursue federal funding for zero-emission equipment.
Backers said it would be good news for the Gulf of Maine, which not only has some of the world's most consistent winds, but some of the fastest-warming water on the planet.
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