Monhegan offshore wind case – 1st clash between Huber & Big Wind.

(1) February 4, 2010), attorney Jeffrey Thaler of Bernstein Shur contacted me to discuss having his two new clients – the University of Maine System and the DeepCwind Consortium – becoming intervenors in my case against the Bureau of Parks and Lands decision to designate, 2 miles south of Monhegan, the Maine Offshore Wind Research Center.

While I have assented to the University of Maine as intervenor, I have also made my misgivings clear to the court about the prospect of the DeepCwind Consortium intervening. Remember: the case is simply: Did the Bureau of Parks and Lands follow the applicable state laws and regulations when it designated the Monhegan Offshore Wind Test Area or not?

The University of Maine was deeply involved in the planning and research; it is sensible for the judge to be informed by them of their role in the designation process. But the DeepCwind Consortium – a forward-looking group of investors, entrepreneurs, engineering & law firms, NGOs, retired politicians and the like, focused on exploitation of the research area AFTER it is designated – played no role in the BPL’s decision. They hence have nothing to offer the court but much irrelevant and after-the-fact sound and bombastic fury. Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm is said to view such water-muddying displays of lawyerly virtuosity with distaste, anyway – so why clutter the record?

But then a copy of Atty Thaler’s February 4, 2010 motion to intervene arrived in the mail asking the judge to indeed let him represent both U Maine and “DeepCwind Consortium” as two intervenors in my case. He asked for an expedited decision, suggesting that I was okay with both entities getting into the case. As I immediately informed the court in my response he was quite mistaken, I noted that the various entities that make up this consortium are, of course free to apply individually to intervene.

(2) Assistant Attorney General Amy Mills is going to represent the interests of the Bureau of Parks and Lands viz this case. She is a veteran attorney on natural resource-related litigation and enforcement. Mills’ and the Bureau of parks and Lands’ first order of business is to “compile and produce the record” on which BPL based its decision, then send a copy to me and a copy to the judge. This could take some time, as, according to another attorney familiar with the Bureau of Parks and lands decision: “\“There’s quite a volume of material” , adding that BPL will likely ask for a time extension to produce its materials.

Fine. Let’s be thorough. A fully informed judge will make a good decision. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Monhegan offshore wind case – 1st clash between Huber & Big Wind.

  1. Not ALL teh fishermen were agreeable and they were told one thing at the meeting many months ago and as I understand what is happening now is not exactly what they said at the meeting. I was not at the meeting but my source is one of the fishermen here.

  2. Everything that happens on Monhegan changes Monhegan, because it is a tiny ecosystem and a tiny social system. So little changes have big effects…always have.

    The Monhegan of my son’s childhood is different from the Monhegan of my childhood, is different from the Monhegan of my father’s childhood.

    The addition of wind power will be less invasive than the addition of another new house, for instance. Think of the houses that have gone up in your lifetime, and how they have changed Monhegan forever. New houses often improve Monhegan’s social system, by making it possible for people to live and work there, but it is always at the expense of Monhegan’s ecosystem, because it reduces the wild land and puts more pressure on resources.

    The only difference with wind power is that it benefits both the ecosystem and the social system, by reducing both the expense and the ecological risks of carting fuel to the island.

    My prediction is that those beautiful wind turbines will eventually become as beloved a landmark as the lighthouse.

    1. But no island is an island, entire of itself. The seductive siren’s call for independence in all things would have us atomize apart, each overseeing his, her or its own rights and energy sources on their own turf.

      Monhegan for some part of the 20th century was powered by a cable to the mainland, since defunct. The Monhegan Plantation Power District warns of the challenges and impact of renewing such an Island to shore power link (along with accompaniments like high speed internet), though one can’t help but predict lower operating costs to operate the cable, compared to those of a Monhegan hill-sited wind turbine. While some Monheganites might call that cable relying on foreign energy, Likely not all would. The questions, too arise: it rebuilt, how much would it obstruct or annoy lobsters? Halibut? The lobstermen who fished the area when the old power cable was working, they would know, more than anyone else how the benthos was affected or not, time back.

      Were a windmill built atop Monhegan, it would in most seasons produce more electricity than the community can use. Would not the DeepCwind Consortium – some appendage of which which would eventually own a piece Monhegan, thanks to the financial instruments these wily cavalry of capital will offer – seek to market the excess juice? How? Voila: a new power cable!

      There is no belittling the serious threat that a spill of the fuel oil currently generating Monhegan’s electricity poses: disruption of nearshore ecosystems, from juvenile lobsters to seabirds, with negative consequences for local and regional fishing communities. The disastrous 1996 North Cape oil spill slew millions of lobsters in less than a week. Preventing THAT must be paramount. But does it need to require a “taking” of some of the island’s most sellable assets its wild beauty and its lightness of human touch. Transformed, Monhegan would join the ranks of federally overseen New England’s energy sharecropper communities, and, as an energy producing municipality, will also become subject to oversight by a yet another subdepartment of the Homeland Security consortium of agencies.

      The question rests so much upon beauty. How much beauty can or should be sacrificed? Monhegan’s is that “everlasting loveliness” described by Plato, “which neither comes nor ages, which neither flowers nor fades.” The state of Maine’s tourism people certainly agree, as does state law, but that part of our government is being told to stay out of the way, those laws have been overriden and the island’s small businesses have become understandably cautious ever since the new energy boosters rolled their bandwagon up to the dock. How much? you will be asked. How much would the people of Monhegan accept from industry as weregild for their violated ambience?

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