Jun 28, 2011

DeepCwind Consortium: a Pyrrhic victory?

DeepCwind ruling by Maine Superior Court a  “Pyrrhic Victory” for University of Maine-led industrial consortium - critic.
ROCKLAND  In a historic precedent for defense of Maine’s natural  marine resources, the Knox Superior Court has ruled that Maine citizens have the lawful right to sue on behalf of wildlife in the Gulf of Maine.  Read the decision here

“Until now, the courts have rejected efforts by individuals to obtain legal standing to represent non human entities. “ Huber said.  “ Justice Hjelm’s decision, while it allows development of the DeepCwind offshore wind energy test center, also levels the playing field for citizens trying to protect Natural Maine in the face of powerful industrial consortium like DeepCwind. Both in Superior Court and other venues."

Huber was philosophic about the outcome. “We’ve lost one fight here, but the cost to DeepCwind  and other would-be Gulf of Maine ocean energy developers is an end to the ban on citizen representation of wild nature in Maine and the Gulf of Maine,"   Huber said he is exploring his options.

Huber said it reminded him of the tale of King Pyrrhus of Epirus
"One more such victory" fretted the King, following a costly battle with the Romans "would utterly undo him.” ….
“Likewise for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands,”  Huber said. “They and the DeepCwind Consortium collectively defied their own natural scientists and oceanographers in order to rush through the permitting of an offshore windpower test center two miles off Monhegan Island.  And while Judge Hjelm had little choice but to defer to the agency for making an ”informed decision,” Huber said, “the justice also signaled his suspicion of the agency’s methods by ensuring that citizens can lawfully challenge efforts by both the DeepCwind Consortium and other big industrial concerns to go around the laws and regulations protecting our irreplaceable natural Gulf of Maine.”

For  a copy of the court’s  decision, Click Here   For more information about the case Click Here


Jun 22, 2011

Island Institute sells out (again) to big industry

In his latest drizzle of class warfare  "Listening to the Scenery"  Island Institute's ever-industry-toadying Phil Conkling once again obeys his corporate masters and sneers at the "voice of the people"  for demanding a say in whether windfarms shall industrialize their landscapes.

Phil bemoans the fact that "anyone who can spare a half hour to assemble expert opinions from the internet can mount a campaign to stop something". Merely, he complains,  to benefit "some ill defined majority".   In other words to Phil, the problem is simply that the rabble is being allowed "too much public input". 

Phil was once part of the rabble, until Charlie Cawley's thankfully now extinct debt peddling empire MBNA  took Conkling's little Island Institute from its harborside shack and into its corporate embrace for what he describes lovingly as "commercial intercourse".  He's never looked back, content to frisk at the feet of his industrial masters,  always ready to bristle and howl  at the commoners when  instructed to do so. 

But his thunderbolts are McLightning - all flash and no wattage. 

Jun 15, 2011

Gulf of Maine - will offshore wind extraction change GOM currents?

The challenge is getting the public to understand that sustained extraction of a gigawatt of kinetic wind energy from the small proposed area east of Matinicus will affect the speed and direction of the existing seasonal coastal current that transits that site,  along with, of course, the  seasonal flows of lobster larvae, scallop larvae and all good things for marine life that travel on it.

From surface to seafloor the Gulf of Maine is in motion, through the water column to the air above.

UMaine's crew knows their full size floating turbines will create this sort of artificial stratification or upwelling effect in the waters where they are set up - its the nature of the ocean windmill beast - but are trying to convince Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hjelm that it doesn't matter. That Maine can to worry about that AFTER it happens.

One hopes the judge sees otherwise. Probably he does, for fresh and strident last minute filings by DeepCwind's atty against the suit have appeared, beseeching him to dismiss the case..

Jun 10, 2011

Penobscot Bay Watch to US DOE on DeepCwind - It's the Maine Coastal Current & the Lobster larvae

This was set in slightly modified form to Laura Margason, US Dept of Energy on June 9, 2011.

RE: DOE/EA 1792 University of Maine’s Deepwater Offshore Floating Wind Turbine Testing and Demonstration Project,  Gulf of Maine  (108  page PDF)

Dear Ms. Margason,

We are writing in response to the draft Environmental Assessment  for Project DOE/EA 1792, released by the Department of Energy.

Penobscot Bay Watch sent scoping comments to the DOE in October 2010, noting concerns over the limited scope of review proposed, which excluded the reasonably foreseeable offsite indirect and secondary impacts that would flow out from the University's proposed activity, if the impacts to larger oceanic processes of the Gulf of Maine did occur as a result of development and deployment of the planned sequence of full scale floating wind turbines - the entire raison d'etre for the University's project.

The University seems content to  hold that there is no necessity to consider any impacts  beyond such immediate and short term impacts to resources they have identified as being within the footprint and viewshed of the proposed  marine windpower research center.

However this causes the Environmental assessment to be inadequate because it fails to address the most important , most fundamental questions raised by the proposal: what are the likely climate changing effects of interfering with the Eastern Maine Coastal Current's flow and flow rate by positioning windmills, as planned, within its pathway in the Gulf of Maine?


The state has identified as appropriate several locations in the Gulf of Maine for utility scale wind development. The preferred alternative lies within the EMCC just prior to where bathymetric conditions stimulate a segment of it to break off  (and deliver lobster larvae to Penobscot Bay).

It does not pass the straight face test for the University of Maine to pretend that the completely predictable impacts of  the utility scale ocean windfarms it proposes to build following and based on preparation of these prototypes need not be considered at this stage. It is to feign that there is no possible connection between the prototype and the full scale device that is the reason for building the prototype.

This is untenable. The Department of Energy need to work with the University of Maine to develop either a supplemental Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement to deal with the predictable and connected offsite and indirect and cumulative impacts stemming from the proposed DeepCwind project that is requesting funding from the Department of Energy. Anything else is a mockery of the NEPA process and serves only  political haste, not scientific certainty

In conclusion we continue to find the scope of review of a number of critical issues to be seriously inadequate. Therefore we believe that  the University of Maine should be required to  prepare a supplemental Environmental Assessment to address those issues, as cited below.  Please note that these issues and the University of Maine's state permit to operate its wind testing area off Monhegan  are presently subject of litigation in Maine Superior Court.
Ron Huber, for
Penobscot Bay Watch

Jun 2, 2011

Sears Island: Cargo cultists continue pressing $200 million bond bill.

That Sears Island $200 million bond bill? IT IS STILL IN PLAY. Yes, LD 420 would float this bond issue on the next election ballot "for building a privately operated container port on Sears Island"
 In the closing days  of the Maine legislative session, this monstrous bill , and others like it  still under review by the legislature. Sears Island is still on the chopping block. Beware!

LD 420 is bottled up in the Appropriations Committee which could excrete it at any time for a vote. Sunshine is the only sensible medicine. Please let people know to contact their legislators or friends. 

In fact LET EVERYONE KNOW, and have them tell  the legislators of Maine's Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs  that this bill is a terrible idea.  How?  Just  email your opposition to Carol Tompkins, clerk of that  committee and ask her to send your email around to the committee members. She will.  

How kind to global industry, this subsidized Port of Dreams would be. Let us build it! they cry. The Cargo Will Come Again! For that is what it is: a Downeast outbreak of the Cargo Cult, its victims pining for the 19th century.