Climate change is the challenge of our times. Maine has 145 coastal towns, nearly 3,500 miles of coastline, and a critical coastal economy, all of which are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Intensifying winter storms. Rising sea levels. Sunny day flooding. Ocean acidification. Rapidly warming waters of the Gulf of Maine, pushing lobsters north to colder waters. These are urgent problems, and they require pragmatic climate action.

Fortunately, Maine is a state of problem solvers and innovators, and Maine people have come together for more than a decade to develop an economic and environmental solution: The Maine Research Array (MeRA), a small-scale, science-based floating offshore wind energy initiative in the Gulf of Maine.

Kaylee Collin, right, and Spencer Stone walk through water along North Avenue in Camp Ellis in Saco on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Preserving and protecting our coastal heritage was a primary focus of my work in the Maine House of Representatives. The Maine coast is near and dear to me, having spent my life between the southern coast of York County and the Down East communities of Hancock and Blue Hill. I’ve seen first-hand the impacts of climate change on our ocean and our working waterfronts.

In the Maine Legislature, I was a member of both the Marine Resources and Environment and Natural Resources committees. I formed the Coastal and Climate Action Caucus and was an active member of the Maine Climate Council. I voted in favor of the permanent ban on offshore wind in Maine state waters, and supported legislation creating the Maine Offshore Wind Research Consortium, which gives fishing industry stakeholders an important seat at the table.

Through all my years of collaboration with state government and coastal and marine communities, the Maine Research Array emerged as the best, most pragmatic solution addressing a range of climate-related problems.

Maine can’t wait. We must keep taking necessary next steps to advance the Maine Research Array, including approving a power purchase agreement and building local port infrastructure to support thousands of local jobs. State law requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. We simply cannot meet this legal requirement without the large amounts of clean energy produced by MeRA. This small-scale initiative will produce enough clean energy to power nearly 100,000 Maine homes and businesses each year. It will also create thousands of family-supporting jobs for Mainers, and workforce training and apprenticeship programs for our young people to establish skills and careers right here in Maine. These are powerful, positive impacts that can’t be ignored.


It’s also imperative that we preserve and protect the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and our vital lobster and fishing industries. MeRA does this in three important ways. First, it’s a small-scale, research-based initiative focused on developing best practices for coexistence with all traditional ocean users.

Second, it’s strategically sited 28 miles offshore, many miles outside state waters where 75% of Maine’s lobster fleet is active.

Third, it puts Maine in a position of leadership and influence over development in the Gulf of Maine. As our New England neighbors and other Eastern states rapidly advance their own offshore wind goals, and eye the federal waters of the Gulf of Maine and its robust wind energy resources, Maine needs to move first to guide and direct what happens in the ocean off our beloved coast.

Without action, we only have ideas.  The Maine Research Array only brings economic and environmental benefits to Maine — and helps us build coastal resilience — if we bring the idea to fruition. Multiple Maine governors and state legislators, the University of Maine, and more than 1,300 participants in the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap process have been building momentum for more than a decade. Now’s the time to continue our positive trajectory with pragmatic action moving MeRA forward.

Let’s approve the regulatory agreements, build the infrastructure, create the jobs, follow the science, produce the clean energy, reduce the emissions, protect the Gulf of Maine, and advance a bright, sustainable future. I hope you’ll join me in my excitement for this incredible opportunity for Maine.

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