Wabanaki leaders list concerns with potential offshore wind development in Maine
Federal officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management were in Bangor this week to gather feedback from state officials, fishermen and tribal members about potential offshore wind development projects that may be sited in the Gulf of Maine.
Wabanaki leaders say they have a long list of questions about offshore wind development, and that they hope they've been invited early enough into the planning process to have their concerns heard and mitigated.
Passamaquoddy member and attorney Corey Hinton said the tribe has not developed an official position but is skeptical, especially after plans to develop hydro-power in the region have failed in the past. Any offshore wind development near Eastport would likely bring negative health, economic, religious and cultural impacts to tribal resources, he added.
"We have unceded fishing rights within the salt water in the precise places where the United States is now planning to site these facilities," Hinton said. "And so there's significant concerns around the direct conflict with tribal fishing rights."
Leaders within the Penobscot Nation and the Houlton Band of Maliseets said they too have environmental and cultural concerns and that the tribes have little additional capacity within their natural resources offices to study the proposals.
Federal officials are expected to visit Wabanaki territory later this week.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it tentatively plans to name and finalize specific wind energy areas in the Gulf of Maine for commercial lease by the end of this year. The state of Maine has also submitted a lease application for a separate research array, which BOEM officials are evaluating.
Any actual offshore wind development is likely years away.