Matthew R. Simmons will be remembered for his dire predictions about the global oil supply.

His work as a financier for the world’s energy titans, after all, offered him an insider’s view of the industry and an informed opinion on its future.

Given this biography, Simmons gave “peak oil” its most qualified endorsement.

He dared his colleagues and peers to believe by publishing his conclusions under the succinct title “Twilight in the Desert,” which earned Simmons almost equal praise and scorn.

That’s the Simmons being mourned by the world today.

The 67-year-old father of five died suddenly last week at his home on North Haven.

The business journals and national press are calling it the silencing of one of energy’s most outspoken experts.

In Maine, how- ever, the Simmons that is being mourned is a different soul, for he was a different man in his adopted home than his usual environments, such as the Saudi Arabian oil fields or the skyscrapers of America’s energy capital, Houston.

While the world is regarding Simmons’ passing in light of what he accomplished, this state should mark his untimely death for what he had promised to do for Maine.

In a relatively short time, he had become one of Maine’s most influential residents.

It started in 2004, when the previously low-key summer resident of Rockport opened his wallet and his heart to transform a derelict downtown movie theater in Rockland into a world-class performance venue. The Strand Theater is now a showpiece of Maine.

In coastal Maine, his stature grew. For example, he was a trustee of the Island Institute, which advocates for the sustainability of Maine’s islands community, and a board member of the noted Farnsworth Art Museum.

And, at the time of his passing, he was working to turn his palatial Fox Hill estate in Camden into a retreat to rival the facilities of the fabled Aspen Institute, which hosts some of the world’s greatest minds to address the world’s most pressing problems.

Simmons was best known in Maine, though, for his commitment to turn this state into a leader in alternative energy, through his Ocean Energy Institute.

The institute, also based in Rockland, is poised to become a leading think tank and venture capital provider to alternative energy companies developing offshore wind technologies.

Through his industry connections, innate understanding of world energy markets, and sheer force of will and personality, Simmons was working to put Maine into the forefront of the new energy economy. He was a linchpin to this promise.

We hope his passing won’t derail those dreams.

Maine has great potential as an energy producer; its abundant natural resources — wind, water, waves, and wilderness — are the requisite ingredients. It will be people, however, that transform this possibility into results, through guile, persistence and compromise.

The state government has committed to energy as the critical issue for Maine’s economic security. The Legislature has dealt with innumerable weighty pieces of energy legislation — how Maine can make it, move it, pay for it, tax it, and most importantly, conserve it.

Losing Simmons’ leadership at this juncture is a blow to these efforts; we urge those working to fulfill these crucial goals to not allow his absence to become an excuse for inaction. His vision for Maine is ambitious, but ultimately attainable.

Matt Simmons will be remembered. His legacy should be honored by not letting his aspirations for Maine be forgotten.


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