Wind Power Column Draws Fire

Well, the wind’s hit the fan. As a longtime proponent of wind power, tidal power, wood power, any power that comes from our natural resources, I’m also well aware of the nasty bullish response from anti-wind people. They seem to specialize in attacking my motives, rather than my facts. Perhaps that’s because the facts are on my side – at least, that’s the way I see this.

I made a mistake on February 28 when I posted a brief column here, in George’s Outdoor News, on the website of the Bangor Daily News. The column was about the Stetson Mountain Snowmobile Ride-in.

More than 200 snowmobilers participated in this year’s Ride-In on February 16, including Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Tourism. I’m not sure the anti-wind people are going after Carolann because of her participation, but they sure enough are going after me.

I will say her participation in the Ride-in was a whole lot more favorable to First Wind than the seven paragraphs I wrote in the blog post. It got statewide news coverage.

So let’s head this off by letting you know that I agree with the anti-wind folks and my editors at the BDN, that I should have disclosed that First Wind is a sponsor of my website, georgesmithmaine.com. I do not hide that fact. Their sponsorship is highlighted right on the home page of the website and repeated in my Outdoor News Blog there.

While I haven’t seen a lot of other bloggers disclosing their personal interests anywhere on the internet, and certainly blogs are not fact checked by anyone – they are, after all, just one man’s or one woman’s opinions – I do want to honor the BDN’s policies.

This was actually an unintended mistake. I wrote the column for posting on my website and then took a look at all the legislative news I had queued up for that blog, and decided to post the Ride-in column in my BDN blog. I report most of my legislative news in my website’s blog and that’s the top priority there.

I do have a long record of supporting wind power, as does the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for which I worked 18 years until the end of 2010 when I retired to write full time. And I’ve written quite often about wind power over the years. I am particularly proud of the Stetson Stories that I wrote after visiting the small towns up there and learning how townspeople were benefiting from the Stetson Mountain Project. You won’t find a lot of opposition to that project in those local communities.

And while I am disclosing my personal and professional ties and interests in that Snowmobile Ride-in column, let me report that I have worked for many years with my friend, Bob Myers, who helped organize the Ride-in and was quoted in the column.

Bob is the Executive Director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. He participated in the ride-in and expressed his enthusiasm by saying, “The ride into a wind project like this is fun for everyone, and we appreciate businesses in Maine like First Wind that open their projects up to snowmobilers.” Meyers said he’s working on a statewide wind farm trail system.

This whole sorry mess has gotten me thinking about my relationships, sponsors, and interests. Perhaps I should disclose that Maine Audubon has taken over the TV talk show Wildfire that I cohost with Harry Vanderweide, and Maine Audubon also supports wind power. I recently posted a column on Wildfire in this blog.

I don’t want to abuse the privilege of posting this blog on the BDN’s website, so I will be giving the issue of conflicts a lot of thought. Perhaps I will write more about this later. With full disclosures, of course.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.