Majority Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives rejected an attempt by Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, to use federal spending to block offshore wind development in a lobster fishing area of the Gulf of Maine.

Golden, who tried to amend 2024 appropriations legislation for the Department of Interior, said he will try again to bar offshore wind development in what’s known as Lobster Management Area 1. His measure sought to prevent funding to lease, license, permit or provide any authorization to develop offshore wind energy that could jeopardize lobster fishing.

“Offshore wind development in the Gulf’s most productive fishing grounds is a threat to Maine fishermen’s way of life,” he said Thursday in a prepared statement. “House GOP members say they are opposed to offshore wind, but given this opportunity to close these fishing grounds to offshore wind, they failed to deliver.”

Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of the Interior and other agencies, said the legislation “prioritizes critical needs” within reduced spending guidelines and addresses “interests and concerns” in more than 8,000 requests by House members.

The Biden administration announced on Oct. 20 a 3.5 million-acre wind energy site in the Gulf of Maine that excludes lobster fishing grounds and right whale areas, drawing praise from environmentalists, the lobster industry and organized labor. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Development has identified more than 9.8 million acres in the Gulf of Maine, including Lobster Management Area 1 and areas closed seasonally or permanently to protect the North Atlantic right whale, as potential commercial offshore wind sites, Golden said.

The federal government’s draft Wind Energy Area for the Gulf of Maine includes areas identified as secondary areas that are in Lobster Management Area 1 that could eventually be part of a wind energy area. Golden is seeking to prevent offshore wind development in those secondary areas to protect lobster grounds.

Virginia Olsen, a commercial lobsterman and director of the Maine Lobstering Union, said in a phone interview Thursday that wind energy developers are interested in secondary areas that could be reviewed for turbine construction in the next 10 years. Golden’s legislation “would stop that from happening,” she said.

Maine’s congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills continued to apply pressure after the Biden administration identified the Gulf of Maine site. They said soon after the plan’s release that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “initially listened” to their concerns and those of the fishing community by excluding Lobster Management Area 1 in its draft.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.