May 5, 2013

Letters to the editor: Outdoor groups seek to stifle public

Two bills were introduced in April that could restore rights to a segment of Maine's unorganized territories residents, rights they lost to the 2008 makeover of the state's wind power siting laws.

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Wind turbines are seen on Mars Hill Mountain in 2007. Maine Audubon and the Natural Resources Council of Maine are resisting bills that would give all Mainers a chance to participate fully in the process of siting wind power projects, a reader says.

2007 File Photo/The Associated Press

More than 99 percent of Mainers, in organized and unorganized areas, have input into the siting of wind power projects in their communities, how they're sited or even whether they're sited. Such input used to be available to 100 percent of Mainers.

At a hearing April 22, it was disappointing to hear two of the state's largest environmental groups speak out against fairness for all citizens, urging legislators to continue the denial of our rights.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon were part of the process that put constraints on our community members, and here they were, lobbying to make sure that the constraints stay in place.

At issue is whether these rural Mainers can participate in siting matters prior to the permitting phase of wind developments.

Almost every Mainer has this right, including most of the staff, board and membership of these two groups. They just don't want us to have it, fearing it might slow their push for more mountaintop wind development.

Instead, they want us to be limited to input only in a permitting hearing, a drastically reduced level of participation.

A permitting hearing is not a forum for the broader discussion of a community's future. Most Mainers have the right to influence wind siting in their communities long before it reaches this final permitting phase. Five years ago, it was a basic right that every Mainer enjoyed.

The Natural Resources Council and Maine Audubon appear ready to work hard to keep some rural Mainers from having meaningful input into wind matters in their own communities. That's disappointing. I expect that from corporate wind interests, not the Natural Resources Council and Maine Audubon.

Alan Michka

Lexington Township

Story spreads stereotypes of reasons for immigration

I applaud the Press Herald for covering the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project's Celesoiree celebration April 12 and for highlighting the experiences of immigrants in Maine.

However, I am disappointed and upset at your article that appeared in the newspaper of April 21 ("Society Notebook: Here and after"). This article falsely described my move to Maine as my having "fled Namibia."

I did not "flee" Namibia. This statement is offensive to me and my home country, Namibia, which has enjoyed peace and political stability since 1990.

Aside from being displaced by wars, Africans migrate to the USA for many reasons. I came to Maine to be with my wife, Shayna, who I met and worked with in Namibia.

I am by no means suggesting that being labeled a refugee is a bad thing. My point in short is: It's wrong for the reporter to stereotype and consequently make a wrong assumption.

Inaccurate and false reporting like this reinforces negative ideas that the entire African continent is a war zone. It is not!

Many African immigrants do hail from war-torn lands, and the African community is grateful that Maine has opened its doors to those who cannot return home.

I want the conflicts to end, and peace and prosperity to reign in war-torn countries. This will not come about unless the world understands it is possible. Africa is also a continent of hope and opportunity.

(Continued on page 2)

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