Environmental activist asks court to halt offshore wind power project

By Stephen Betts | Jan 26, 2010
Knox County Superior Court, Rockland.

Rockland — A Rockland man, who for much of the past two decades has tackled a variety of environmental issues, has gone to court to halt the proposed demonstration wind power project off Monhegan Island.

Ron Huber claimed in his appeal filed Jan. 26 in Knox County Superior Court that the designation of waters off Monhegan as a test site violates his constitutional rights to practice his religious stewardship of Penobscot Bay.

Huber claimed the Maine Department of Conservation failed to meet state laws and guidelines in its selection of the waters off Monhegan as a test site. He said there are many migratory birds that live at times around this site.

The Rockland man claimed that the demonstration wind power site known as the Maine Offshore Wind Energy Research Center could harm those birds and the environment. He asked the court to set aside the department's Dec. 14 ruling until it develops and implements adequate social and scenic conservation rules to protect Monhegan.

Huber said he has a right to appeal the agency's decision to select the demonstration site off Monhegan because he is a user of the island's well-known and heavily used public walkway around Monhegan's shore. He also said he has been a steward of Penobscot Bay's marine environment since 1992.

The Rockland man claimed that adequate public input was not sought from the residents of the island.

Jeanne Curran, director of information for the Department of Conservation, said two public meetings were held by the department on Monhegan. One was held Aug. 26 with lobstermen and fishermen and one was held Oct. 8 for the general public, Curran said.

Huber said in his appeal, however, that any meeting should be held in the summer when most of the residents are on the island. Monhegan, located 10 miles off Port Clyde, has a population of 75, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Curran said the department declined to comment on the court appeal.

On the department's Web site it details the selection process, noting the public meetings that were held and the consultation with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, the Department of Marine Resources, the Historic Preservation Commission, the University of Maine, and a number of federal agencies including environmental ones.

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