Maine prohibiting offshore wind projects in state waters

Maine prohibiting offshore wind projects in state waters
© Greg Nash

New offshore wind projects will be prohibited from Maine state waters reserved for recreation and fishing under a new measure signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Janet MillsJanet MillsAppeals court denies request to block Maine vaccine mandate for health workers Judge rules Maine can bar religious exemptions to health care vaccine mandate Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid MORE (D).  

The bill was prompted by concerns from members of the commercial fishing industry on how they will be impacted by the state's investment in research and construction of offshore wind farms. 

According to the governor’s office, up to 75 percent of Maine’s commercial lobster harvesting occurs in state waters. 

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The protection of state waters comes after Mills signed into law last month legislation advancing the creation of the country’s first research area for offshore wind, which is set to be constructed in federal waters of the Gulf of Maine. 

“Maine is uniquely prepared to grow a strong offshore wind industry, create good-paying trades and technology jobs around the state, and reduce our crippling dependence on harmful fossil fuels," the governor said in a statement Wednesday.

She said that the state water preservation measure “cements in law our belief that these efforts should occur in Federal waters farther off our coast through a research array that can help us establish the best way for Maine to embrace the vast economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind.” 

“I applaud the Legislature’s strong bipartisan support of this bill, which I believe demonstrates that offshore wind and Maine’s fishing industry can not only can coexist but can help us build a stronger economy with more good-paying jobs and a brighter, more sustainable future for Maine people,” Mills added. 

She has committed Maine to being a leader in allocating funding to the development of renewable energy sources and combating climate change, with a goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. 

Dan Burgess, director of the governor’s energy office, said in a statement Wednesday, “Maine will need more sources of renewable energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that are driving climate change.” 

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“Offshore wind can help us meet these objectives while also helping Maine create a global industry that continues the momentum of our clean energy economy,” he added. 

The Biden administration has also vowed to invest in offshore wind, with a goal of achieving 30 gigawatts in offshore wind power generation by the end of the decade. 

The administration announced last month that it had chosen an area between the New York and New Jersey coasts as the site of its first proposed offshore wind lease sale, and the ninth in the federal government’s history. 

Earlier this month, the Interior Department said it was conducting an environmental review of an offshore wind project near Virginia Beach.