Developers of new energy projects in the region have had a bad month. First it was the Redington Mountain wind project in western Maine, which got the thumbs-down treatment from the state Land Use Regulation Commission. Opponents convinced all but one of the commissioners that a pristine ridge shouldn’t be defaced with a string of turbines, and that the developer shouldn’t be allowed to compromise views from the Appalachian Trail. The decision was a surprise to many, coming as it did at a time when the need for alternate forms of energy has never been greater. Other wind projects are at the conceptual stage, including some on islands, and one can only hope that developers, regulators, local citizens and interest groups will work out their differences so Maine can make use of wind energy in the future.

More recently, proponents of liquefied national gas (LNG) terminals in eastern Washington County and Nova Scotia got two pieces of bad news: the Canadian government informed the U.S. State Department that it won’t allow LNG tankers to pass through Head Harbour Passage off Eastport on the way to the terminal sites; and the developer of an LNG site in Nova Scotia called off its project, saying it couldn’t obtain a supply contract.

The Canadian government’s position on Head Harbour Passage has a familiar ring to it: 25 years ago there were similar rumblings in response to a developer’s proposal to build an oil refinery at Shackford Head. While Canada can be criticized for letting tankers into St. John and other ports in the region while keeping them away from U.S. sites, its position regarding Head Harbour Passage is pretty reasonable: it’s a fog-shrouded place with some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, a dicey place for a tanker under any circumstances.

The report that LNG supplies may not be sufficient to justify building a facility in Nova Scotia could prove to be more significant. Two years ago we began hearing that LNG supplies worldwide were getting tight, and that Canada, China and other countries were contracting for them at an accelerating rate. This is ominous news for Maine, where the share of our electricity generated by LNG has risen to 40 percent, and where we’re still far too dependent on oil for heating. LNG has proven to be a reliable replacement for nuclear power in Maine, but if there’s not enough of it for the long term, Maine and the nation will wisely look elsewhere — beginning with serious conservation — to meet their energy needs.