Feb 20, 2009

Sears Island activist takes MDOT & State Legislature to court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEBRUARY 20, 2009
Contact Ron Huber 207-691-7485 or coastwatch@gmail.com

Legal action filed in Maine Superior Court against state's
Sears Island Partition Plan.


On Thursday February 19, 2009, Ron Huber, an opponent of the Maine Department of Transportation's January 22nd partitioning of Sears Island into port zone and conservation easement zone, filed a "Petition for Review of Final Agency Action by the Maine Department of Transportation" with Maine Superior Court in Rockland, Maine.

The petition (pdf file) charges that the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maine Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation violated state law and the Maine Constitution when planning and approving the partitioning of Sears Island in upper Penobscot Bay into industrial and conservation zones.
The petition calls for the Superior Court to protect the irreplaceable Wasumkeag Estuarine Complex made up of Stockton Harbor, Long Cove and Searsport Harbor, (see illustration) from irresponsible MDOT port development.
Huber has asked the Court to order the the state's 600 acre conservation easement to Maine Coast Heritage Trust to be rescinded until a careful look is taken at the environmental implications that a container port on the other 340 acres of Sears Island could have for upper Penobscot Bay/lower Penobscot River water quality and the River's and Bay's fish and shellfish

It also calls for the Superior Court to declare a 2005 law unconstitutional that gives the Legislature's Transportation Committee approval power over activities on Sears Island,by violating the Maine Constitution's separation of powers.

Plaintiff Ronald Huber of Rockland, Maine, has asked the court to:

1. Find that Public Law Chapter 277 "An Act Regarding the Management and Use of Sears Island" violates the Maine Constitution's Article III Distribution of Powers. The 2005 law improperly grants Executive Branch decision-making power to the Maine Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation.

"Get the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation out of the Executive Branch's turf." Huber said. "Sears Island decisionmaking needs to be free of backroom politics of the sort demonstrated by the Senator Dennis Damon in his co-chairmanship of the Transportation Committee over the past year."

2. Find that MDOT and its Joint Use Planning Committee failed to comply with the planning requirements of the Maine Sensible Transportation Policy Act and the Maine Site Location of Development Law.

"Those two state laws have hugely important environmental impact review standards that the Baldacci administration with, incredibly, the active collaboration of the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club and other "conservation' members of the Joint Use Planning Committee like Friends of Sears Island and Penobscot Bay Alliance, have tried to work their way around." Huber said. "Maine uses them to protect her places of natural biological productivity, her irreplaceable scenery, her historic and archaeological sites, from the long term effects of poorly-planned large scale developments like a container port."

Huber also criticized Senator Dennis Damon for unconstitutionally using Public Law 277 to lead the Transportation Committee into on November 18, 2008 , imposing binding conditions on MDOT's before the agency could execute the conservation easement, and then then, on January 13, 2009, pressuring his Committee into completely reversing its earlier unanimous vote, and vote to waive the restriction they'd earlier imposed.

"What was the quid pro quo?" Huber said."What did Senator Damon ask for and receive during those private meetings with the governor he admits to having after the November 18th vote?"

"What was enough to make him switch not only his vote, but also to press the members of the Legislature's latest transportation committee into switching theirs?"

"I am asking the Court to relieve the Transportation Committee of the burden of implementing PL 277" Huber said. "I trust the judge will declare it in violation of the Maine Constitution's Article III Distribution of Powers.

"I am proud as well to have a religious and spiritual relationship with Sears Island and its surrounding estuarine complex, protected under Article 1 Section 3 of the Maine Constitution." Huber said.

"This is a place that Almighty God has created to nourish, shelter and transition the salmon that morph there - freshwater to saltwater, salt to fresh, back and forth between Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay, have done so for at least 8,000 years, and will continue to do so, if I can help it. Not to mention the river herring, the sturgeon and the other fishes and water-dependent wildlife that use these sheltered fertile waters."

For more information contact Ron Huber at (207) 691-7485 or by email at coastwatch@gmail.com



2 comments:

Douglas Watts said...

Rockin'

!!!

Doug Watts

dyana said...

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Good post.....
Great blog.....
Every one should read this once.....
Thanks for sharing.....
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Dyanadevis
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