DOWNEAST MAINE – Lobstering is a critical issue for Mainers and the Maine economy as a whole. Jared Golden appears to have forsaken the industry that pumps $1.5 billion into the Maine economy and preserves thousands of Maine jobs since he has benefited from more than half a million dollars from the environmental groups that threaten Maine’s most iconic industry.
Aqua Ventus is a massive government partnership that would create an offshore wind facility located in the heart of lobstermen fishing territory, and it is doing so with the support of Golden, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Angus King.
According to public records, the program has received more than$55 million in grant funding from the Department of Energy for its construction.
Unfortunately for lobstermen, the program is getting more support from the federal government than they are.
As a result of the trade war with China, Maine lobstermen were eligible to get up to $50 million in economic relief, as of November Senator Susan Collins office said they’ve only been able to collect $36 million of those funds.
Lobstermen say they support renewable energy, just not “rushed offshore wind developments in the Gulf of Maine,” according to a statement from the Responsible Offshore Development Association, which is composed of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, the Maine Lobster Dealers Association, the Maine Lobstering Union, the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries and the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association.
“Maine’s fishing community is deeply concerned that wind development will end our fishing heritage which has sustained our coastal communities for centuries and is integral part of Maine’s identity,” the group added.
In March, around 80 lobster boats protested the Aqua Ventus project near Monhegan Island, close to the site where the massive wind turbine will be constructed.
Golden isn’t shy about showing his support for offshore wind, despite concerns of those fisheries that will be affected by it.
“We are proud to see the project’s progress and applaud the $100 million public-private partnership,” Golden said in a statement praising the Aqua Ventus project.
On his Congressional website, Golden says he is “working to pave the way for these industries to flourish,” and that he will “help Maine take advantage of its potential for wind and solar energy through tax credits and other policies,”
Environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, which back projects like Aqua Ventus, have been bankrolling Golden’s campaign since his first Congressional race in 2018.
According to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks influence in elections, these two environmental groups together spent more than $350,000 in 2018 in outside funds supporting his candidacy.
Environmental groups and their PACs have also directly given Golden’s campaign more than $21,000 over the years according to public records.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has taken notice. “Maine lobstermen are desperate to stop wind development projects from threatening their livelihoods – and instead of fighting for Maine’s lobster industry, Jared Golden is throwing them under the bus and prioritizing Democrats’ radical environmental agenda.” NRCC spokeswoman Samantha Bullock said in a statement to the Maine Examiner.
Under the Trump Administration, offshore wind project development was slowed “in part over concerns from fishermen,” but the Biden Administration is expected to ramp these projects up over the course of the next four years.