Climate extremists now represent an existential threat to Maine

By Rep. Reagan Paul

AUGUSTA – Governor Mills announced this week that Sears Island has been selected as the location where her administration will launch its long-awaited offshore wind energy project. Climate extremists were ecstatic with the news. Renewable energy lobbyists were bouncing off the State House walls. But sadly there is a clear loser here – it’s Maine’s environment.

Hello, this is Representative Reagan Paul of Winterport. I’m pleased to join you for this week’s Republican Radio Address; but I’m afraid my message today is not so pleasing.

Simply put, climate activists now represent a clear and present danger to Maine’s environment and even our livelihoods. Yes, the very people who claim to be doing everything they can to save our environment are instead doing everything they can to destroy it.

Just off Searsport, Sears Island has long been known as a place of tranquility and home to abundant wildlife, migratory birds, botanical resources and historical sites. It boasts a wealth of Wabanaki history as well as historical significance dating back to the Revolutionary War.

It is also the largest undeveloped, uninhabited island on our nation’s East Coast. This local treasure is important to the Midcoast community as a significant tourist attraction, welcoming thousands of visitors from around the globe every year.

The State owns the 940-acre island and has maintained it for years as an ecological sanctuary. In 2007, 601 acres were placed under a conservation easement held by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. About 330 acres were reserved on the Transportation parcel for possible future use as a cargo port. Unfortunately, that changed this week when Gov. Mills announced they would develop about 100 acres of it into an offshore wind port.

Interestingly, a Maine DOT slideshow shows 100-PLUS acres would be utilized. What is the plus? Habib Dagher of the University of Maine, who is developing this technology, was recently quoted as saying an offshore wind port would require 200 to 600 acres. Maybe he knows what the “plus” really means. Whatever the amount of land, up to 330 acres could be used to house a complex to “support the transportation, assembly and fabrication of offshore wind turbines.”

The Mills Administration apparently thinks turning a pristine natural environment into an industrial one with hazardous chemicals, composites and construction materials will be good for the environment. But more than that, it begs the question, “What is really going on here?” Especially when in 1995, the EPA and other agencies said that using Sears Island as a cargo terminal would irreparably harm the aquatic environment and significantly degrade waters in the United States.

As the representative for Searsport and other coastal communities, I share the concerns of many constituents who have voiced their opposition to this plan. I’ve heard the larger concern of thousands of acres of Maine’s pristine landscape being covered with solar panels that will prove more toxic than PFAS when decayed e-waste starts piling up. I’ve also heard the concerns of those who may have their property taken by eminent domain for the transmission lines that will be required to make this “green” nightmare come to fruition.

And the windmills as tall as skyscrapers that are being proposed offshore will threaten everything from endangered right whales, Piping Plovers and Least Terns to the collapse of our fishing industry. The hypocrisy here is almost laughable.

It all has to do with this cult-like desire to attain a greenhouse gas-free environment. Well, removing 100 acres of trees certainly doesn’t help, nor does the fact that China accounts for more than 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions compared to only 15 percent for the U.S.

But climate zealots don’t want to hear that. They’d rather we clean up our air to benefit Europe than worry about China exporting their dirty air to us.

Still, if the goal here is to protect our environment, these climate extremists are failing spectacularly. Consider the fact that the push toward electric vehicles requires the mining of 500,000 pounds of ore just to produce the nickel, lithium, cobalt and magnesium to make one car battery.

In fact, Republicans held a press briefing earlier this week that outlined how nuclear power is the cleanest, most stable form of energy generation we can achieve. This brings me to my final point: There are cleaner alternatives than wind and solar.

For example, you would need millions of acres of offshore wind with a 30% capacity factor, hundreds of thousands of acres for onshore wind with a 30% capacity factor, hundreds of thousands of acres of solar panels with a 15% capacity factor, or just 35 acres of small modular nuclear reactor with a 92% capacity factor to produce the same 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

All you have to do is drive by a solar farm after a snowstorm like today and see every single panel covered with snow or think about steel corroding in saltwater. Billions of dollars in subsidies have been handed to solar and wind companies for inefficient and expensive energy sources that do nothing but ecological and economic harm. This isn’t complicated.

That is why I submitted LD 1549, which would direct the PUC to request information about the time, estimated cost and potential site locations for such reactors in Maine. It’s a no brainer. Unfortunately, Democrats have left my bill – mind you, a simple informational request to look into this technology – in the purgatory of unfinished business for nearly nine months.

The bottom line is we’re going to destroy potentially hundreds of acres of beautiful Maine habitat to chase a dream that may not even bear fruit. What if this venture fails? What if we find dead whales washed ashore as they did in New York and New Jersey, two states that have since abandoned offshore wind?

It’s time Maine drops this green energy pipe dream and instead pursue cleaner options like hydro, geothermal and nuclear energies. Only then will we truly be in charge of our environmental future and stop Maine from looking like a science experiment. The way it’s shaping up now, climate activists represent an existential threat to Maine’s environment and economy.

Again, this is Representative Reagan Paul of Winterport. I thank you for listening.

Representative Reagan Paul of Winterport is in her first term representing District 37, which includes several communities in Waldo County. She serves on the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

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