Last month, my wife and I traveled from Trescott Township to testify before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee in Augusta in support of LD 616, a bill to amend the Maine Wind Energy Act of 2008.

If enacted, LD 616 would serve to restore to Unorganized Territory residents within “Expedited Permitting Areas” an opportunity to speak out regarding the development of large-scale industrial wind projects in their communities. Opponents of this bill spoke at length of the benefits we would realize from wind energy, but only when pressed by Rep. Larry Dunphy of Embden did any comment on the issue of citizen rights. Many persisted in ignoring that point.

Those who did address the question expressed regret for this consequence, but went on to describe the inconvenience of allowing local residents to be heard. One described local input as an “encumbrance.” Another claimed open hearings prior to permitting to be an added “layer of bureaucracy.”

Well, the voice of the people is not a “layer of bureaucracy,” but the fundamental bedrock upon which our democracy, our “bureaucracy,” is built. No law can be just that denies a resident the opportunity to be heard on issues regarding the industrial development of their hometown. Let your local representatives know you support the passage of LD 616 to return to residents in UT Expedited Permitting Areas the right to be heard.

-Michael Smith, Trescott Township