Maine environmental groups clash over wind power
Friends of Maine's Mountains challenged Maine Audubon on Thursday to retract a recent report that says wind energy is sometimes compatible with wildlife, and to acknowledge funding it receives from the wind power industry.
Maine Audubon, a nonprofit based in Falmouth, released a report Dec. 4 saying that the state has 1.1 million acres that are windy enough for power generation, and that wind turbines could be developed on 84 percent of that area with minimal impact on some wildlife and habitat resources.
Michelle Smith, Maine Audubon's spokeswoman, said she was surprised that Friends of Maine's Mountains came out against the report, because it recommends that "any land-based wind development in the mountainous areas of northern and western Maine and along our coast be carefully studied."
Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior decided to extend the period in which wind power companies are permitted to kill or injure bald or golden eagles with wind turbines without penalty from five to 30 years.
"Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check," said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.
"I'm not sure where (Friends of Maine's Mountains) is going with that," Smith responded. "We would never support the killing of eagles."
According to Maine Audubon's website, the Boston-based company is an Eagle-level donor, along with L.L. Bean and Maine Magazine, each having contributed more than $10,000 this year.
Not comprehensive analysis
"It's shameful (that Friends of Maine's Mountains) continually try and stand in the way of this clean, renewable power that is creating jobs, driving investment and increasing tax revenues for municipalities, counties and state government," Payne said in a written statement.
"We're a volunteer organization with about 150 members and four board members who do most of the work," said McDonald, who is a real estate agent in Kennebunk. "We rely on individual contributions. We have about $200 in the bank right now."
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