State Sen. Mark W. Lawrence, chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, recently voiced his support for saving both the Shawmut Dam and salmon (Maine Voices, June 27). As a member of the $8.1 billion forest products industry, and an avid fly fisherman, I would like to thank him for wading into the waters on this controversial issue to bring some good old-fashioned practicality to the discussion.

ISO-New England reports that only 10 percent of our region’s electric supply is coming from renewable sources. Another 6 percent of our power is generated by hydro dams, which supply a steady baseload power necessary to offset the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. The remainder of our power is produced by a combination of natural gas, nuclear and a few other sources. If Maine is to reach its bold climate goals, hydro will have to be a significant part of the mix. Removal of dams will make us more dependent on nonrenewable fossil fuels to meet demands.

Maine’s forest industry has taken some sharp blows over the last few years, but it has recovered nicely. Let’s not endanger Sappi, a mill that sustains 754 direct jobs, and thousands of indirect jobs, including loggers and truckers in central Maine, over what could realistically be as few as four Atlantic salmon per year. The loss of these logging and trucking jobs would be felt throughout the industry.

We can and absolutely should save both the Atlantic salmon and the Shawmut Dam. Our climate and economic future demand it.

James L. Robbins

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