News release from Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Audubon, Maine Labor Climate Council, Maine Climate Action Now, Iron Workers Local 7, Laborers’ International Union, Local 327, Maine Lobstering Union Local 207
July 13, 2023 (Augusta, ME) — Legislators, the Mills Administration, organized labor, a key fisheries group, and environmental organizations have agreed on consensus language that will advance a major omnibus offshore wind bill in the Maine Legislature.
The bill will responsibly develop offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and encourage new deepwater port construction while maintaining strong standards to ensure good-paying jobs for Maine workers, protections for wildlife, avoidance of important fishing grounds, broad stakeholder engagement, and inclusive community benefits.
The amended bill (LD 1895), sponsored by Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-York), was approved by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee late Wednesday and is expected to be voted on by the House and Senate when lawmakers return to wrap up their legislative session. Supporters hailed it as an example of how Mainers come together with common purpose to do what’s in the best interests of Maine’s environment, economy, workers, and communities.
“To combat climate change and invest in Maine’s energy independence, our state has set ambitious but necessary goals for renewable energy. It’s clear that this effort will involve offshore wind energy projects. If we know this is coming, we need to have guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers,” said Sen. Mark Lawrence. “I’m grateful to my fellow legislators for supporting this bill. LD 1895 represents a detailed path to smart offshore wind development.”
The offshore wind bill that is moving forward combines two components to advance a new clean energy industry for Maine by setting a procurement schedule and building a port. It will:
- Procure 3 GW of offshore wind power in the Gulf of Maine by 2040, supplying affordable, reliable offshore wind to power homes, businesses, and transportation.
- Incentivize responsibly developed wind projects that protect wildlife and avoid Lobster Management Area 1, Maine’s key fishing grounds.
- Set strong and comprehensive labor and workforce development standards for good-paying jobs and ensure inclusive benefits for Maine’s most vulnerable communities.
- Support the creation of a world-class, Maine-built offshore wind port that will bring in billions of dollars in economic development.
- Help meet Maine’s bipartisan emissions reduction targets and put the state on a path to meeting the proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.
“This legislation sends a clear message that whether the jobsite is on land or at sea, this new industry will be built responsibly and be built because of, not in spite of, Maine’s working families,” said Jason J. Shedlock, President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council and an officer with Local 327 of the Laborers’ Union. “Throughout the process, labor did what labor does best, and that’s work overtime to finish the job. We appreciate the Governor’s willingness to punch that timecard with us on behalf of working Mainers and look forward to starting the next shift together.”
The comprehensive bill reflects many of the recommendations of the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, developed after a multi-year process by the Governor’s Energy Office that engaged a wide variety of stakeholders – including representatives from coastal communities, fisheries, business, conservation, clean energy, organized labor, and state government.
“This legislation shows how far we’ve come as a state when it comes to our commitment to protecting Maine’s iconic fishing industry,” said Virginia Olsen, Executive Director, Maine Lobstering Union, Local 207. “We appreciate this collaborative, clear, and unequivocal demonstration of the state’s stance that our voice matters, and that an offshore wind industry that fundamentally harms the hardworking Mainers that make their living on the water is neither in line with Maine’s values nor welcome in Maine’s waters.”
Maine has positioned itself as a national leader on climate with a comprehensive statewide Climate Action Plan, bipartisan emissions reduction targets, and strong clean energy policies that have driven record growth in heat pump and solar adoption. A proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040 would continue this progress.
“This is a major step forward in building a clean energy future that works for all Mainers,” said Jack Shapiro, Climate & Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Responsibly developed offshore wind will strengthen our economy and make us more energy independent while protecting the shared resources in the Gulf of Maine. It’s yet another example of how Mainers come together to do what’s in the best interests of Maine’s environment and communities.”