The State of Maine intends to develop the untouched Sears Island in Searsport to build and ship offshore wind turbines, according to Downeast lawmakers who oppose the controversial project.
“It is the largest undeveloped uninhabited causeway accessible island on the eastern coast of the United States,” said Rep. Lynne Williams (D-Bar Harbor) in her letter defending Rep. Reagan Paul’s (R-Winterport) proposal to stop the development of Sears Island.
The lawmakers see the Sears Island project as a negative environmental effect of Maine’s offshore wind plans, which are supposed to lower Maine’s greenhouse gas emission and thereby forestall anthropogenic global warming.
The development of offshore wind turbines also has the potential to impact Maine’s lobster and haddock fisheries, according to scientific studies collected and distributed to media by the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association (NEFSA).
Rep. Paul’s proposal, which was appealed on Thursday’s meeting of Maine’s legislative council, would have granted a conservation easement for land on Sears Island that is not privately owned.
This would have stopped the development of 100 acres of the 940 acre island.
The appeal failed, with a vote of five-five. The four republicans on the council voted for the bill, along with Sen. Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland). The rest of the Democratic leaders opposed the bill.
Rep. Williams argued that, in addition to its ecological value, and its sentimental value as untouched wilderness for the people of her district, Sears Island ought to be preserved for its historical value.
“The island is rich with indigenous Wabanaki history and American history from the Revolutionary War that deserves to be preserved and protected as well,” said Paul.
Without Paul’s bill, there is no legislation preventing Maine’s offshore wind industry from industrializing the island.
A similar bill, proposed by Rep. Tiffany Strout (R-Harrington), was appealed at the same council session as Paul’s, but, like Paul’s, it failed.
Rep. Strout’s bill would have helped Maine retain its Lobster Management Area One if it is auctioned off to company’s building offshore wind turbines.