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As the Biden administration pursues offshore wind, Janet Mills urges cooperation with fishermen

Biden Offshore Wind
Michael Dwyer
AP file
In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind's five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Gov. Janet Mills is calling on federal ocean regulators to work closely with Maine fishermen as the government moves toward leasing ocean waters in the Gulf of Maine to offshore wind energy developers.

Mills this week wrote a letter to Deborah Haaland, secretary of the interior, praising President Joe Biden's commitment to developing offshore wind projects in U.S. waters. But she also urged the Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management to take a cue from Maine, where the governor's choice for a proposed 15-square-mile wind farm off the coast was made only after numerous meetings with stakeholders. Those included Maine's lobster fishing industry, other maritime enterprises and conservation groups.

Mills says regulators should start by listening to "those for whom offshore wind may not be viewed as opportunity but as a threat to their way of life. Maine fishermen must be involved in the federal dialogue."

Last month the bureau said it plans to solicit as many as seven new wind projects on the Eastern Seaboard, including the Gulf of Maine. Mills says that as it considers proposals for the Northeast, the agency should reconvene a task force of coastal New England states to facilitate comprehensive ocean planning.

Fishing groups are praising Mills' letter.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.