Jun 26, 2008

Sears Island "deal" opposition swells; JUPC-ites confronted at 6/25/08 public meeting

A glum row of Joint users Wednesday night felt the wrath of island and bay huggers ....The audience, the public who attended the presentation and question and answer session overwhelmingly oppose ANY development on Sears Island. Listen to all audio recordings from meetings.
Following the introductory remarks ,
MDOT and Maine Coast heritage Trust tried the argument that Sears Island faces total development should the state not get what it wants this instant. They tried to raise spectres of residential sprawl covering the entire island. But the people Wednesday night weren't buying it

A series of public speakers followed the dog and pony show. A local resident whose loved ones ashes were scattered on Sears Island spoke with sorrow at the thought of the deceased being under thundering container port. She was followed by members of port opponent group Fair Play for Sears Island A resident of South Thomaston spoke of the contradictions between the state's process and the reality of the island.

As Harlan McLaughlin noted, Sears Island is managed pursuant to passed into law LD 277. The bill requires legislative approval for any new uses to the present natural areas with transmission towers. Not to mention the existing MOU between Searsport and MDOT that gives already gives control of the 600 acres to Searsport....and Searsport has land use ordinances.

No, the real danger, Mclaughlin warned, the real danger of development comes from the port wannabes and the eco-world people.

Others spoke; some passionately, some with disdain for the secrecy and political maneuvering of the MDOT process that had brought the island and bay to this situation.

Maine state senator Dennis Damon attended. Chair of both the legislature's transportation committee and its marine resources committee, Damon has made MDOT's Sears Island port plan a priority in the Transportation Committee. Yet, despite the well understood serious impacts to Penobscot Bay's marine fisheries that would stem from a port being built athwart the bay's most important groundfish and wild salmon nursery area, Damon has not broached the subject of the port plan at all with the marine resources committee.

Asked by Penobscot Bay Watch executive director Ron Huber during the Q&A session that closed the event if he would schedule a Sears Island review at the Marine Resources Committee, the senator first suggested that the legislature's conservation committee might be a better venue. But pressed on the marine fishery impacts being worthy of the marine resources committee's attention, Senator Damon agreed to bring the topic up with that committee. Huber met later with Damon and discussed the kinds of materials that the committee should receive.

Scot Dickerson of Maine Coast Heritage Trust seemed peeved at the growth in opposition to the port plan and delivered a closing statement dismissive of the natural resources of the island and warning of terrible consequesnces fo the island if the port plan was not adopted.

Jun 25, 2008

Sears Island containerport foes to grill JUPC tonight

Friends and foes of a state proposal to divide Sears Island into an industrial port zone and a conservation buffer area will square off at the UMaine Hutchison Center in Belfast at 7pm tonight (Wednesday June 25th).

Groups Fair Play for Sears Island and Penobscot Bay Watch will warn that the state's proposal would harm Penobscot Bay's most important fish nursery area as well as the island's unique and irreplaceable combination of forests, wetlands, meadows and ferns, and the wildlife that inhabit them.

They will also challenge the logic of environmental groups supporting the MDOT plan. On the one hand Sierra Club, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and astroturf grassrooters "Friends of Sears Island" have signed an agreement that an industrial port on the island would be compatible with nature and is hence an "appropriate use" .

On the other hand; Sierra Club et al says, an industrial port will never happen because it would not be appropriate.

The reason the Sierra Club and land trusts are willing to play this charade is that the Maine DOT is poised to give them management authority over 2/3 of the island provided they approve of the potential portification of the rest of Sears Island.

The word "quisling" wil very likely be heard tonight at the Hutchinson Center

Jun 16, 2008

Umbrella Mitigation won't shield natural Maine

Coming up fast! Army Corps of Engineers and MDOT's June 19th "public meeting" on MDOTs Umbrella Mitigation Plan For Maine 3pm, MDOT Headquarters, 24 Child Street, Augusta, Maine.
Read Army Corps Public Notice

Come speak or write a letter asking for a formal public hearing. Tell them: a 'Public Meeting' is not good enough. Hold a public hearing!

Write to: Ruth Ladd, Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-275. Or email her at ruth.m.ladd@usace.army.mil Deadline July 3rd. Note: Ms. Ladd prefers emails.

The Umbrella Mitigation plan is one of the foul discharges of the outgoing Bush Administration, as it seeks to let sprawl developers and polluters get away with simply paying a fee to destroy as much habitat as they like and pollute as much water as they like. Because someday, somewhere, an equivalent amount of habitat will be protected.

If enough people ask, the Corp of Engineers will hold one. Its up to you and to all of us! Read Army Corps of Engineers' Public Notice about the meeting

Jun 9, 2008

Stockton Harbor - GAC spill intentional?

News: "An aqua ammonia spill at GAC Chemical Corp over the holiday weekend was due to either human error or intentional tampering, a company official said Tuesday morning." Read media story here.

General Alum, formerly Delta Chemical, has a long history of pollution problems; under pressure from Penobscot Bay Watch and Conservation Law Foundation , the company has cleaned up some of its waste clogged outfall pipes and reduced acid spillage into the bay.
Kudos to the Searsport Fire Department's 11 responders, Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson and Maine DOT for their quick and effective response to the spill, stopping the aqua ammonia from reaching the harbor. Government at its best.

Sears Island - The letters( to the editor) pour in.

Today's Bangor Daily news offers three Sears Island letters to the editor. In them:
Marietta Ramsdell, of the Sears Island Joint Use Committee, chides Ron Huber for not attending SIPI and JUPC meetings; Sally Jones of Stockton Springs notes that the port will disrupt the island’s ecology as well as the island’s peace, fatally; and Islesboro Islander Steve Miller, another member of the Joint Use Committee, calls Harlan McLaughlin's Jue 2 op-ed about the Sierra Club and others working with the governor’s office on Sears Island planning "false, damaging and malicious." Temper, temper, Steve & Marietta!
Read them all right here

Jun 5, 2008

Sears Island Debate (2 sessions) - Sierra club vs Fair Play For Sears Island

WERU news producer Amy Browne hosted a debate and a followup discussion about Sears Island. the first is a debate between Maine Sierra Club's Conservation Chair and two representatives of Searsport based Fair Play for Sears Island. You can listen to a podcast of it here.

The second discussion, from later that day, is also available as podcast. Click here

Thanks to all for coming to WERU or calling in to the show. The issues are now laid open for all to see. (or hear!)

Jun 4, 2008

Sears Island - Sierra Club leader surfaces; to debate anti-port plan activists Thursday 10am on WERU FM

Orland. Maine Sierra Club is responding to critics of the Club's support for the state plan to divide Sear Island into a port zone and a conservation buffer by agreeing at the last minute to join a debate with them.

Kenneth Cline, Maine Sierra Club's conservation chair, and professor of environmental law at College of the Atlantic, will take on representatives of Fair Play For Sears Island, a Searsport-based group that favors leaving the island in its current natural undeveloped state. Cline is part of the Maine chapter's leadership.

The radio debate is will be held on Thursday, June 5, 10-11am. WERU Community Radio. All are welcome to call in with their questions, facts and opinions. The toll free number is 1-866-625-9378. Local call in number is 469-0500. WERU also streams live on the web at www.weru.org Listen to the debate live. and call in.

Critics including members of their own group locally, Atlantic Canada Sierra Club members, and as far away as California (mp3 audio of Tom Politeo, interviewed by Ron Huber, Penobscot Bay Report, WRFR COmmunity Radio ).

There the Sierra Club strongly opposes new container ports due to their massive air pollution discharges and habitat destruction that come with them.

Details & Background about the Sears Island controversy:

Penobscot Bay Blog

Fair Play for Sears Island

1990s Sears Island struggle details

2004 Sears Island LNG plan FOIA documents

MDOT-Maine Coast Heritage Trust proposed deal dividing up the island

Coverage of May 26 anti-port 'funeral' on Sears Island

Maine Sierra Club
Sears Island 1990s news archive