December 20, 2013

Letter to the editor: Wind energy benefits health, economy

Re: “Maine wind project could create 340 jobs, $120 million in investment,” Dec. 4:

The American Lung Association has long been proponents of alternative energy production sources, including wind power, due to the immense health benefits of renewable energy. Renewable energy produces cleaner emissions, a stark contrast to the dirty coal-fired power plants of present day.

The most significant health impacts associated with electricity generation are the air emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels: most commonly, the production of energy from coal-fired power plants.

The burning of fossil fuels pushes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gases into the air we breathe. Such pollutants have been linked to the exacerbation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, decreased lung function and premature death. Wind turbines produce zero harmful emissions.

Maine is located downwind from many Midwestern coal-fired power plants, giving it the unfortunate monicker of “the tailpipe of the nation.” The lung association’s State of the Air 2013 report found that while much progress has been made in cleaning up Maine’s air, there are still more than 1 million Maine residents living in counties with unhealthy air quality.

Renewable energy production is still in its infancy, and Maine has been given an opportunity to establish itself as a leader in this realm. Aside from the vast health benefits, this project would create as many as 341 jobs and bring in more than $120 million in state revenue.

When it comes to healthy air, there is no downside to moving forward with Maine’s proposed wind project.

Jeff Seyler

president and CEO, American Lung Association of the Northeast

Augusta

 

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