Earth First! blocks industrial wind project under construction in the Maine North Woods

I just got back from the Earth First! Rendezvous in Stratton, ME where activists from all over the country gathered under the banner “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth.” True to the slogan, EF! activists ended the camp with civil disobedience against a controversial industrial wind project being built in the Maine North Woods. Activists blockaded the entrance to the construction site while others stopped a semi-truck carrying a massive turbine blade and locked themselves to it. This action will no doubt be controversial within the environmental/climate movement. Hopefully it will spark RESPECTFUL debate in our movement about the role industrial wind should play in combating climate change. Is our movement diverse and resilient enough to have communities like Coal River fighting for wind pr0jects in their backyard, while others are fighting against them? Are we ready to get beyond unquestioning support of all wind power and really confront some of the major problems that are presented by industrial wind projects being built by multinational corporations?

While I am not from Maine I felt compelled to lend my solidarity to this action for a number of reasons:

-It is important to make clear that this action was not against ALL wind. It was against corporate run industrial wind projects that impact rural communities and sensitive ecosystems. We are in full support of small scale, community run wind projects.

-The wind power being built in Maine is not replacing any fossil fuel plants. It is all additional capacity, so in reality no emissions are being reduced. We would be far better off reducing consumption and improving efficiency rather than producing more electricity.

-These wind farms are being built in sensitive wild areas that are home to the endangered lynx and migratory birds as well as rare alpine ecosystems. We can’t ignore the impacts that industrial wind has on an ecosystem. We cannot right these impacts off as collateral damage.

-The wind farms are being built by Transcanada, a major player in the Alberta tar sands. These wind farms are not producing electricity for Maine. It is all being sold to other states. Maine residents shouldn’t have to have their wildlands carved up so that an oil company can greenwash its image while turning a profit selling electricity to the grid.

With that said lets get a discussion going on these issues around large scale wind projects.

Here’s the press release from the action:

Stratton, Maine- At about 8 a.m., Tuesday July 6, at least fifty Earth First! activists blockaded Goldbrook Rd, the access point to the Kibby Mountain wind project outside the town of Stratton, halting the construction of 22 industrial wind turbines on the delicate Alpine ecosystems of Maine’s western boundary mountains. The action comes just before the Land Use Regulation Commission’s (LURC) meeting July 7 to consider a proposal for a similar project on neighboring Sisk Mountain, and on the heels of the national Earth First! Round River Rendezvous, hosted this year by Maine Earth First!

TransCanada, the transnational corporation responsible for the devastating practice of tar sands oil extraction in Alberta, Canada, has already built 24 mammoth turbines on Kibby Mountain, and has begun construction of an additional 22 turbines, a process that includes significant road building and wide transmission line corridors. These projects are part of a trend that shifts from forest management to development in Maine, which threatens to permanently change the face of Maine’s North Woods, the largest undeveloped wilderness east of the Mississippi river. Both Sisk and Kibby Mountain projects will reap huge benefits for TransCanada and the landowner Plum Creek.

“In the face of the Gulf Oil Disaster, and massively destructive coal mining, we recognize the value of developing alternative energy systems,” said Meg Gilmartin of Maine Earth First! “But these projects are a perfect example of how corporations and investors are taking advantage of the climate and energy crises to make profits while avoiding accountability. We don’t view projects on this industrial scale as being the solution to our problems.”

“If we really want to look at how the North Woods can mitigate climate change, we should restore our forest and protect sensitive ecosystems, like those on Sisk and Kibby Mountain,” said Ryan Clark of Maine Earth First! “These unique high altitude areas are breeding grounds for the endangered Bicknell Thrush, nesting sites for the federally protected Golden Eagle and critical habitat for endangered Canadian Lynx.” The project is also being protested for moving forward without public hearings.

Maine Earth First! is the local component of the national environmental group
Earth First!, a network of activists that focuses on grassroots organizing and direct
actions in defense of the earth’s natural systems, and maintains a no-compromise stance.

8 Responses to “Earth First! blocks industrial wind project under construction in the Maine North Woods”

  1. 1 afrench Jul 9th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    As someone who’s fighting TransCanada in Nebraska as they attempt to put a second tar sands pipeline through our state (directly over the largest underground water aquifer in north america) I truly appreciate this brave action and hope the climate movement can stand in solidarity with local organizers and activists fighting for their communities, without passing blanket judgments against those who decide to utilize more radical tactics.

    The space needs to exist for all to organize and fight dirty/corporate energy projects in the way that makes sense to them and would work in their community. And although these activists (at least those who locked down) were not from Maine, which is a little bit of a tricky line to walk, I think the fact that the convergence was hosted and prepared by maine earth first! truly speaks to Mainers thoughts and feelings on the project. Great work!

    no compromise!

  2. 2 rmarg Jul 9th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Certainly mowing down forests for wind turbines sounds ironic at best. However, some large scale energy projects will be needed. Even if you could cut the US electric demand in half, that leaves 500,000 MWe to supply. My guess is that small scale projects will not be able to take on such demand on their own.

  3. 3 Kyle Jul 11th, 2010 at 2:38 am

    I don’t know the specifics of this wind project, so I can’t comment on any of the other points you raise in your post, but when you say that the turbines will not actually reduce emissions, how do you know?

    A cleaner energy project doesn’t have to directly replace a dirty project to reduce emissions. Because of likely increasing demand for electricity in the U.S. over the coming decades, lots of new power plants will probably be built. If this additional energy from the wind turbines fills an energy gap that might have otherwise been filled by a more greenhouse gas polluting type (coal, even natural gas in this case, etc.), then the wind turbines are still reducing future emissions.

    That’s not a comment for or against this particular project, since, like I said, I don’t know anything more about the project. I just know what some of its very dirty alternatives are.

  4. 4 hmmm Jul 11th, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    My thoughts follow Kyle’s…

    While I believe that I am as anti-capitalist as the next person, corporations will need to be involved if we are actually going to transition to a green economy. Yes, we can promote local, small-scale projects in this transition, but I don’t think that corporations should be categorically boycotted. Yes, we should be suspicious of corporations as a category, for reasons that should be by now all too self-evident. I too am “in full support of small scale, community run wind projects.” But that does not mean that I am in full opposition to large scale, corporate run wind projects. When does a corporate green energy project become legitimate rather than green washing? Does that line exist?

    Yes, we cannot ignore the negative effects of the clean/green. Does that mean that we cannot recognize negative effects as sometimes legitimate. In other words, can we not…compromise? If the answer is no (and the exclamation point denotes a rather emphatic one), I think that we’re not going to get very far. Where do we draw the line between this and cape wind?

    I believe that just as we cannot categorically dismiss corporate efforts towards sustainability, neither can we categorically support the clean/green, so I agree with you on that. But I think that I support that point more on ontological than political grounds. Will the general public see this action with the nuance that its planners intended?

  5. 5 free transit Jul 12th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    “-The wind power being built in Maine is not replacing any fossil fuel plants. It is all additional capacity, so in reality no emissions are being reduced….”
    Unfortunately this is true of all wind and solar. As long as there are millions of people who crave suburban sprawl, all alternative energy will consumed in growth.

  6. 6 Contrarian Jul 13th, 2010 at 12:02 am

    How do you ever expect alternative energy to replace fossil fuel if you protest “multinational companies” making a “profit?”. Whether you like it or not, energy is always going to be a forprofit business, as it takes huge amounts of resources (time, R&D, risk) to generate and store energy. If you truly support stopping global warming and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, you should be applauding companies which actually can turn a profit with wind energy, as these are the companies which will lead the way in replacing fossil fuels. You say “We don’t view projects on this industrial scale as being the solution to our problems”, but if a company can increase the scale of its production, its proving that fossil fuels are not the only sustainable way to create energy. While the loss of wilderness is obviously a concern, making blanket statements condemning a company simply because of their size or because they are efficient enough to make production profitable is a losing strategy if sustainability and elimination of fossil fuels is your aim.

  7. 7 Mark Jul 15th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Um I think you misunderstand EarthFirst!

    This is where they are coming from: “Earth first means social war!”

    Earth first is a revolutionary ecodefense group. The point is not to help jumpstart a new market. The point is to smash the market and smash capitalism…

    Most EarthFirsters are primitivists these days which is something I can’t identify with. I’m just a regular eco-anarchist in the tradition of Social Ecology. So hell yes for social war, and capitalism smashing but I’d like to say we can keep language, symbolism, science, permaculture etc. (anarcho-primitivists often consider the aforementioned to be oppressions)

  1. 1 Earth First! blocks industrial wind project under construction in … | Maine Guide Trackback on Jul 9th, 2010 at 11:56 am
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