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.