The beach of Sears Island in November 2017. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

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Have people heard there’s another plan to develop Sears Island?

The state of Maine is considering using as much as 100 forested acres to construct enormous floating wind turbines to be deployed to the Gulf of Maine as part of Maine’s renewable energy plan. I applaud Maine’s effort to develop new sources of renewable energy, but not at the sacrifice of an ecological and recreational treasure on the Maine coast, whose forests and marine systems already store carbon.

Since the 1970s, several plans to industrialize Sears Island have been proposed and rejected, for environmental and other reasons, after first stirring up considerable discord. In 1995, the Conservation Law Foundation and the National Marine Fisheries Service opposed the issuance of permits because the construction and operation of a port would degrade or destroy important terrestrial and marine habitats. In 2003, strong opposition to an LNG terminal moved then-Gov. John Baldacci to convene business, government, environmental and other stakeholders in the Sears Island Planning Initiative. In 2007, 38 of them signed a  Consensus Agreement regarding the future of Sears Island, stating, “Mack Point shall be given preference as an alternative to port development on Sears Island.”

The better site for the proposed development is Mack Point, an industrial site for more than a century.

Today, 601 acres of Sears Island are protected by a conservation easement. The remaining 335 acres are reserved for possible future use as a “cargo/container port.” I am the vice president of Friends of Sears Island and a member of the Maine Department of Transportation Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group, though the views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the position of either group. I believe it’s time to remove Sears Island from consideration for future development by conserving the whole island.

Rolf Olsen