Democratic Congressman Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District slammed House Republicans Thursday after his proposed amendment to prohibit commercial offshore wind development in a crucial Maine lobstering area was rejected.
Rep. Golden’s amendment to the Department of Interior Appropriations Act of 2024 would have prohibited any of the funds appropriated by legislation from going towards leases, licenses, permits, or authorization for commercial offshore wind energy projects in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1) in the Gulf of Maine.
“Offshore wind development in the Gulf’s most productive fishing grounds is a threat to Maine fishermen’s way of life,” Rep. Golden said in a prepared statement Thursday.
“House GOP members say they are opposed to offshore wind, but given this opportunity to close these fishing grounds to OSW, they failed to deliver,” Golden said.
“It calls into question their commitment to protecting America’s fishermen,” he added. “This isn’t the first time they’ve proven unreliable, but I will keep trying to pass this protection against federal approval of OSW in LMA 1.”
In October the Biden Administration released a draft Wind Energy Area (WEA) identifying over 3.5 million acres in the Gulf of Maine it says are suitable for leasing to offshore wind projects.
The area drafted by the Biden Administration excluded LMA 1, federal waters critical to Maine’s fishing industry.
In June, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s congressional delegation wrote a letter to the Biden Administration calling upon them to avoid the lobstering area.
In addition to this letter, Rep. Golden introduced a standalone bill in June that would have prohibited commercial offshore wind development in LMA 1.
Patrice McCarron, policy director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association commended Golden on introducing the legislation, saying the legislation would “ensure that any impacts of offshore wind are understood before allowing the industrialization of the fragile and productive Gulf of Maine ecosystem.”
Following the release of the drafted WEA, Gov. Mills and the delegation said they were “encouraged that the [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] has initially listened to our concerns and those of the fishing community by excluding Lobster Management Area 1 in its draft.”
“We believe that clean energy can offer economic and environmental benefits for Maine that must be pursued prudently and responsibly with a commitment to minimizing to the greatest extent possible the impact on fishermen, recreation, and other crucial ocean uses that are critical to Maine,” they said in a joint statement.