Pres. Jackson, Sens. Curry and Lawrence celebrate offshore wind proposal that protect heritage lobstering area
Draft plan reflects intent of the Legislature to protect Lobster Management Zone 1
AUGUSTA — Last week, BOEM announced a Draft Wind Energy Area in the Gulf of Maine and an accompanying 30-day public comment period. The draft proposal excludes nearly all of Lobster Management Area 1, which is vital to Maine’s heritage lobstering industry and the livelihoods it supports.
In response, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, and Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Eliot, issued the following statements:
“The offshore wind energy project will not only create quality, good-paying jobs but play a critical role in Maine’s path toward energy independence. But as I’ve said from the beginning, this cannot and should not come at the expense of Maine’s lobster industry. To say I’m relieved that the draft plan offered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management honors the intent of the Legislature to protect Lobster Management Zone 1 and our iconic lobster industry would be an understatement.
“There were a lot of naysayers who said this couldn’t be done, that the federal government would never respect the will and work of the states. But this is what happens when states get folks around the table and take the lead on big issues. As we continue to invest in renewable energy projects, we must ensure that all stakeholders and affected parties are respected and heard. This draft plan is a good first step.”
“This proposal is great news for Maine’s lobstermen and offshore wind supporters. This is almost the exact result we’ve been pushing for in the Legislature — a solution that will allow us to keep investing in our energy independence, while protecting our lobster harvesting areas. I encourage the public to continue to weigh in on this issue, but it’s an incredibly promising start.”
“I’m grateful to see the hard work that lawmakers and advocates put in over the last year pay off in a clear way. Our work is only beginning, but this proposal is the exact kind of compromise we were all hoping to see. This will put us on a good path to responsibly invest in Maine’s future.”
The BOEM proposal is the result of LD 1895, “An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources,” which Sen. Lawrence sponsored and Pres. Jackson and Sen. Curry co-sponsored. LD 1895, which was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on July 27, creates the Maine Offshore Wind Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program within the Public Utilities Commission to further the development and use of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Maine. The program’s mission includes establishing standards for local hiring, workforce development and safety; and monitoring the impacts of offshore wind projects on the marine environment and wildlife. It also established a competitive bidding process for projects, to ensure that they are supporting Maine’s renewable energy goals and benefitting Maine energy ratepayers. Proposals must include mitigation plans for impacts on wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment.
During its 30-day public comment period, BOEM will hold a series of virtual public meetings to outline data and information used to inform the Draft WEA and to discuss next steps. More information on that schedule can be found here.