In a June 18 op-ed (“Get the facts straight when debating solar programs”), Prof. John F. Gardner lectured us on the benefits of solar power. Unfortunately, he avoids other facts about the industry.

Through the photosynthesis process, forests are great filters of carbon dioxide and producers of oxygen. The management of forests for carbon sequestration is an emerging discipline in the forestry profession. Unfortunately, much of Maine’s solar development is based on clear-cutting productive forests to make room for panels. This practice destroys the forest’s productivity, its ability to sequester carbon and its ability to provide cooling through transpiration. These solar developments also reduce aesthetics, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

Rather than erect solar farms on already compromised landscapes such as exhausted gravel pits, landfills, power transmission lines and highway right of ways, developers target forests for their subsidized projects for profit considerations. There is little consideration to the long-term social and environmental costs.

To paraphrase the Joni Mitchell song: You don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone. It pays very well to put up a subsidized solar farm.

Terry Walters

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