Maine Requests $456 Million Grant for Sears Island Wind Port

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During the 2024 session, Maine passed a supplemental budget which included a provision that waived existing environmental protections for Sears Island, a popular vacation destination with historic importance to the Wabanaki people. Following this, Gov. Janet Mills’ administration has requested federal funding to support an offshore wind port on the island. The anticipated project cost is $760 million, and the grant requests that the U.S. Department of Transportation provide $456 million in federal support.

The INFRA (Infrastructure For Rebuilding America) award Gov. Mills requested can be used for various transportation projects. Since this project would be a port for launching floating offshore wind turbines, our government has argued a transportation grant is appropriate even though people and goods will not be transported through this “wind port.” This grant request could have instead asked for highway or bridge expansions or general improvements to Maine’s roads, but the Mills administration has asked for this money to be spent on her unwise and unreliable pet wind project.

INFRA grants are a class of federal grants meant to support significant transportation projects to improve transportation safety, efficiency, and movement. Despite this, some applicants attempt to use these grants for other purposes. What’s worse is that the Biden Administration has encouraged this, as shown by the recent approval of the California grant request for a Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Dock.

It is unclear how long the U.S. Department of Transportation will take to respond to Maine’s grant application. Still, considering the many drawbacks of a Sears Island Wind Port, they should definitely deny it. Offshore wind in Maine, of all places, is a bad idea, as we have experienced three major storms in the last six months. Climate scientists also believe this extreme weather will only worsen with climate change. Investing hundreds of millions of dollars and increasing our state’s reliability on an energy source that storms can easily damage is a bad idea in the face of an increased risk of extreme weather.

Additionally, building a wind port on Sears Island would require destroying around 75 acres of forest, an amount of trees that can absorb up to 3,052.5 tons of CO2 annually. Meanwhile, if we generated that energy with natural gas or some other method and left the forests and wetlands alone, the forest would offset a significant amount of those emissions. Additionally, oxygen would be generated that way and valuable forests and wetland ecosystems would be preserved.

On a related note, the wetlands on Sears Island have been considered an ecological treasure, and previously, federal courts have issued injunctions stopping the state of Maine from filling them in. Lastly, coastal wind turbines can have serious negative effects on birds and whales due to their obstructive size and vibration-based noise pollution. With so many Mainers relying on the sea for their livelihoods, the Mills administration needs to decide whether Mainers are more important than the facade of environmentalism.