Another happy event has transpired since the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee adopted the Savage Plan, which withholds approval of Maine Coast Heritage Trust's easement over 2/3 of the island, and establishment of an educational center, until a port and railyard is fully permitted on the remaining third.
Senator Christine Savage's motion, adopted by the committee: "I move the compromise agreement, including the conservation easement reached by the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee, be accepted in principle, but left unsigned by this committee until a port is permitted on Sears Island. The Transportation Committee will submit a bill to the 124th Legislature, directing the Maine Department of Transportation to move forward with all practical speed to see that a port is permitted on Sears Island. Once that permit is in hand, the agreement before this committee will be signed."In a pleasing example of interagency coordination, Maine DOT has withdrawn its umbrella mitigation bank prospectus from the Army Corps of Engineers' clutches, and Army Corps has obligingly called off its Dec. 1st public meeting on said prospectus at its armory in Searsport.
The plot between government industry and suborned eco-yuppies to partition Sears Island among themselves continues to crumble. But there are other players out there...It's time to look into what the Federal Highway Administration is doing. Does the Savage Plan void the JUPC decision to forego a federal review under 49 § 303. Policy on lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites?
That review would have to look at the likely impacts of a port to protected and managed natural, historical and recreational resources. This would have to be BEFORE any action could be taken by the legislature, as its results would inform their decision on whether a commercial port is a good idea.