The Maine House on Wednesday approved a bill to exempt a proposed wind port on Sears Island from coastal sand dune regulations a week after rejecting it.

The House voted 77-65 to enact the measure, which is a critical step toward developing a multi-million-dollar port to support a planned offshore wind array in federal waters off the coast.

The Senate voted 21-13 in support of the bill on Monday.

Just last week, the House voted 80-65 against the bill. The votes cross party lines and during House debate Wednesday, only Republicans spoke on the measure.

House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, implored fellow representatives to continue to reject the bill.

“Sears Island is a beautiful and pristine location,” he said. “If a port is needed, there’s other locations to look at. We don’t need to fast track and blow by our environmental laws.”

The bill sponsored by Rep. Gerry Runte, D-York, seeks to allow the state to begin to apply for the permits needed to build the wind port. During House debate last week, Runte said the project will disturb a sand dune that’s less than one-third of an acre in size.

In addition, the bill seeks to conserve other sand dunes on the island and set aside $1 million for sand dune conservation statewide.

Runte emphasized the economic benefits of a new port, saying it will bring 1,000 jobs to an area where many people are living “paycheck to paycheck.”

When Gov. Janet Mills announced the state’s choice of Sears Island in February, she said her administration spent two years comparing Mack Point, an industrial site nearby, to Sears Island.

She emphasized that only part of Sears Island will be used for the port, with the remaining two-thirds conserved for recreation and wildlife.

A major reason to pick land on Sears Island is that the state already owns it and it has been earmarked as a potential site for commercial development for more than 10 years, she said during the Feb. 20 announcement.

It will also not require as much dredging to make it usable for the types of ships that will need access to the site.

The port would serve as a place to build, stage, assemble and maintain the operations of a floating offshore wind site.

Following the Wednesday vote, Citizens to Protect Sears Island released a statement critical of the project and lawmakers who flipped their votes.

Rep. Reagan Paul, R-Searsport, and Rep. Holly Eaton, D-Deer Isle both pledged to continue to fight the project.

Paul said unions and the town of Searsport applied “enough pressure to flip enough votes to remove all obstacles to the destruction of Sears Island. This whole process has been politics at its worst.”