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Local residents protest Sears Island as site for offshore wind port

Protestors gather in Belfast to oppose placing an offshore wind port on Sears Island in Searsport.
Kaitlyn Budion
Maine Public
Protestors gather in Belfast to oppose placing an offshore wind port on Sears Island in Searsport.

Just one day after Gov. Janet Mills announced the selection of Sears Island in Searsport as the preferred location for an offshore wind port, dozens of local opponents gathered in Belfast to protest the decision.

Business and labor groups have voiced support for the project, and conservation groups are split. Some groups argue for the preservation of wildlife on the island, while others cite the need for clean energy quickly.

Dozens of protestors were met with honks of support from drivers, as they crossed the Acadia Highway bridge. Many held signs urging conservation of the island, and saying the project should be moved to nearby Mack Point.

Susannah Magers lives in Searsport and visits the island often to walk her dogs and enjoy the natural space. She supports wind energy and knows Maine needs a port, but doesn't think it should be on Sears Island.

"It'll change it, I don't think that it can coexist," she said. "I don't think you can have people with their dogs off leashes and their kids running around and have like giant trucks bringing in wind turbines, I don't think those things can coexist."

Magers says she wants more information about what operation of the port will look like, and the impact on residents like her.

Janet Williams is on the board of Friends of Sears Island, and lives close enough to see the island from her home in Searsport. She says the port will have serious impacts on the rest of the island.

"Pretending that an industrial facility will not affect a conservation area is a sick joke," she said.

Williams argues that construction will require roads and parking lots. And when in operation the facility's lights and sounds will drive away local wildlife.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.