Feb 27, 2013

Searsport tank hearings: Opponents decry vote to close public comment session

Republican Journal                             February 27, 2013

Searsport tank hearings
Opponents decry vote to close public comment session
Baldacci denies DCP claims regarding origin of proposal
By Tanya Mitchell

David Italiaander of Searsport (foreground, at left) joins several members of the public in a collective display of signs reading "we will not be silenced" as they protest the closure of the public hearings regarding the proposal from DCP Midstream at Searsport District High School Monday, Feb. 25.  Tanya Mitchell photo 

Members of the public lined up from the microphone set up at the front of the room all the way back to the entrance door of the Searsport District High School cafetorium as they awaited their chance to comment Monday night

Searsport — "We will not be silenced!"
That was how some members of the public reacted to a vote by the Searsport Planning Board to close the oral testimony portion of the public hearings regarding a proposal from Colorado-based DCP Midstream to construct a 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas storage tank and terminal at Mack Point.

The board made that call by a vote of 3-1 — with Mark Bradstreet opposed — as the clock struck 9:30 p.m., signaling the end of the public hearing process, which, as of Monday, Feb. 25, had spanned 11 days since the hearings opened in November.

As Planning Board Chairman Bruce Probert called for the vote, some in the crowd immediately responded with objections to the motion. Some asked the Board if the hearings could be continued, to which Probert replied they could not.

Thanks But No Tank attorney Steven Hinchman requested that his objection to the closure of the hearings be added to the formal record, and Probert stated, "You can put it any way you want, you can put it in writing. Now it comes down to a Planning Board vote."

Probert also encouraged others in the crowd who wished to comment on the application to submit their thoughts in writing.

Some members of the public continued to voice their objection to closing the hearings, and some displayed signs that read, "We will not be silenced."

As Planning Board attorney Kristen Collins advised the board to vote on upcoming deadlines for written comments, informational submissions and responses, she worked to speak over some members of the public.

Peter Taber of Searsport accused the board of conducting the hearings with "DCP's time line in mind" instead of that of the public, some of whom he said had attended the hearings and had yet to speak before the Board. Probert told Taber he was out of order, adding that his statement was incorrect.

"I am a Searsport resident, and I have not been able to speak," yelled a woman in the audience.

Collins reminded the crowd that the DCP application hearings allowed the Board to consider "an unprecedented amount of public input," but some in attendance continued to express displeasure at the Board's decision.

At one point a woman stood and told the Board they were "in DCP's pocket," a comment Probert responded to immediately.

"You don't know what you're talking about, young lady," said Probert. "We have a stack of letters three feet high."

With that, Probert and members of the board started to leave the Searsport District High School cafetorium as some in the crowd began chanting, "purchased Board."

Searsport resident Ben Crimaudo read a Jan. 29 letter from former Gov. John E. Baldacci. In it, Baldacci disputed previous claims from DCP representatives, who have stated they brought the tank proposal to Searsport as a result of a propane shortage in the winter of 2007.

Police officers who were in attendance at the hearing escorted members of the DCP staff and company attorneys out of the cafetorium as some in the crowd encouraged those in attendance to remain seated in the cafetorium in protest of the hearing closure.

Baldacci letter offers different take on 2007 fuel shortage
During the two-and-a-half hours of public comment, 26 people addressed the board. None who spoke expressed support for the project.

Ben Crimaudo of Searsport called attention to a letter from former Gov. John E. Baldacci dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the Planning Board. In the letter, Baldacci disputed previous claims from DCP representatives, who have stated they have brought the proposal to Searsport as a result of a propane shortage in the winter of 2007.

In the letter, Baldacci stated that the combination of a Canadian rail strike, a delayed tanker vessel and frigid temperatures led to "a temporary shortage of propane in our state."

Baldacci said he reached out to many energy companies at the time, DCP being one of them. While the company's assistance was appreciated, Baldacci backed away from statements company representatives had made about the fuel shortage being the catalyst for the current proposal.

"Since that time no one from that company has ever talked to me about the LPG import terminal and storage tank proposals," stated Baldacci. "I have questions about a proposed 14-story, 22.7-million-gallon liquefied propane/petroleum gas tank terminal. Frankly, I shy away from propane. It is an expensive fuel for Mainers. I see the trend moving towards less expensive natural gas."

In closing, Baldacci stated he would continue to watch the deliberations about the project going forward, and encouraged the Board to "keep the safety and well-being of the public in mind above all other considerations."

Public questions impacts on safety, taxes, quality of life
Searsport resident Ann Flack presented the Board with a petition that carried more than 5,000 signatures from people all over Maine and beyond, expressing opposition to the project. Flack said while about a quarter of those who signed on are people who live out of state but love to visit Midcoast Maine, many were residents of the Pine Tree State.

"This petition clearly demonstrates this is not just a Searsport issue," she said. "...Many of the petitioners live, work and raise families in Midcoast Maine."

Jan Dodge of Belfast advised the board to look at the property tax hike Searsmont residents are now experiencing a few years after Maritime Northeast constructed a pump station and pipeline in town. Residents saw a temporary drop in the mil rate that went from about $17 to $13 per thousand of valuation, she said. But once the state valuation caught up with the new development in 2012, taxpayers in Searsmont heard their town assessor explain that the mil rate would likely jump from $18.30 to as high as $21 per thousand.

"Searsport might suffer a similar fate," said Dodge. Dodge also told the Board the Searsmont Town Office staff and assessor were willing to speak with the Planning Board about the experiences in their town.

Terry Fisher of Montville, a retired Maryland State Trooper who spent half her career working for the commercial vehicle enforcement division, advised the Board to consider the safety implications of allowing additional trucks carrying hazardous materials onto Route 1.

"If you think the trucking industry is going to police itself, you're dead wrong," she said.

Lew McGregor of Hope said he does many types of work to earn a living, and all would be impacted if the tank were to be constructed. McGregor said as a sailing teacher, he feared the project could threaten use of Penobscot Bay. As a school bus driver, he expressed concern about sharing the roads with trucks carrying LPG.

McGregor said his third occupation may do quite well if the project is approved — he also builds coffins.

"So maybe things will work out," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum thanked the Board for the work it has completed on the proposed development to date and said that while the City Council has concerns about the operation, maintenance and overall safety of the facility, the city is committed to continuing its working relationship with Searsport.
"The Council itself is very mindful of your authority, of Searsport's authority," said Slocum. "... As your friends and neighbors, we wish you the very best of luck in your deliberations."

Jean Russell of Searsport said her home abuts the proposed site of the project. Russell spoke of how she and her late husband bought what is now the Seascape Motel and Cottages in Belfast in 1964, and how the two purchased their Long Cove property in 1968 and additional land with road frontage in 1976. In the 1980s, Russell said, they started working with the railroad company to obtain the rights to cross the tracks to access their property, and also arranged to have town water lines extend under the tracks to their home.

They moved into their home in 1990, but Russell's husband died in 1992. Some of her friends advised her to leave the home and move closer to friends in Belfast, but she refused. Now, Russell said, the real estate analysis from local Realtor Elaine Tucker shows the proposal from DCP will significantly decrease the value of her home. Russell said the idea of living that close to the tank and terminal also has her concerned about safety risks.

Before her husband died, Russell said, he expressed pleasure at the idea that she would "be safe in the home we built."

Now, Russell said, she wonders how long that will be the case.
"Will I and others be safe if you approve the application from DCP?" she asked the Board.

Entering the next phase
In the midst of the outcry over the vote to close the hearings, the Board agreed to set several deadlines pertaining to the next phase of its mission to decide whether to deny or approve the project application.

By a vote of 4-0, the Board agreed to keep the record open through Monday, Mar. 4, for all written comments and until Monday, Mar. 11, for all interested parties to respond to any new information that might be added to the record. Any briefs from said parties will be due by Friday, Mar. 22.

At the start of Monday's hearing, Probert also specified that after Monday night, no further changes or amendments to the application would be permitted going forward.

The Board will begin its deliberations on whether to approve or deny the application Wednesday, Mar. 27. That meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will take place at Union Hall.

Feb 26, 2013

DCP megatank - AUDIO of final Searsport Planning Board mtg, including anger at cutoff of citizen testimony.

Searsport Maine planning board held its final public hearing on the controversial proposal by DCP Midstream to build and operate a 26 million gallon liquified petroleum gas tank.   Media coverage:    WABI TV   Pen Bay Pilot

AUDIO RECORDINGS OF HEARING (mp3s) 

* Introduction Bruce Probert 1min 45s
TBNT atty Steve Hinchman questions 
Bud Rivers. 30min 25sec
DCP atty James Kibreth questions Bud Rivers 11min 30 sec

Neil Frangesh Part 1 10min 29sec
Neil Frangesh Part 2 12min 19sec
Neil Frangesh QA 1. 7min 27sec
Neil Frangesh QA 2. 12min12sec

Public Comment Section of hearing
Introduction part1 4min
Intro Part 2, amendment control room location  4min 17sec
Ann Flack with Petition 3min 46sec
Catherine Robin 3min 5sec
Mark Lomond 2min 55sec
Ben Crimaudo 3min 15
Ann Dodge 4min 28sec
Jeff Marger 3min 28sec
Joanne Moesswilde 1min 58 sec
Terry Fischer 6min
Ridgely Fuller 3min 16sec 
Matt Summer 1min51sec
Nancy Galland & q from Probert 6min 57sec
Phyllis Coelho 2min 57sec
Barbara Andrews & Probert 1min 3sec

David Smith 1min 58sec
Robert Iserbyt 2min 5sec
* Lew McGregor 4min3sec
Jon Olsen  3min 33sec
Don White 3min 26 sec
Ron Huber 3min 58sec
Stephanie Staples 2min 17sec
Jim  Bresman 5min 15sec
Joe Slocum 2min 43sec
Suzanne Tietcha 2min22sec
Scott Moore 3min 25sec
* Cathy Goldner (1st try at ending mtg)6min5sec
* Motion to close meeting passes. Citizens respond 6min47sec
Citizens respond to early cutoff of public comments (short form) 4min 45sec 

More to come!

Feb 12, 2013

Good Harbor says DCP stay out of Searsport Harbor

from  Thanks But No Tank, Bangor Daily News' story and other sources

GOOD HARBOR REPORT:  LPG should stay out of Searsport Harbor 
Richard A. Clarke was unable to travel to the Searsport hearing last night. 

The presentation was done by Frank Gallagher and Mike Lucy, co-authors of the All Hazard Risk Assessment for Searsport. Their message that the Board should deny the project, was heard loud and clear by everyone in attendance:  

Frank Gallagher, Good Harbor, presenting.
No strategies for  dire scenarios. If fire or explosion take place at the $40 million, 23-million-gallon tank that DCP Midstream wants to build at Mack Point Industrial Zone,  who would pay for the firefighting equipment and training? How would project neighbors evacuate the blast zone? Who will ensure that verbal agreements are followed through?

Mack Point site too small: T-he site is too small to be safe (and there is no way to make it bigger); the facility is too close to residences, businesses, and Route 1; the community lacks the necessary emergency response capabilities; and the Searsport channel is not deep enough. They went further to discuss how a detailed analysis of plans should not be left after the permit is granted. At that point, as Lucy paraphrased Clarke, “the train has left the station” and can’t be turned back—that is to say too many crucial questions are still unanswered but the project is underway. 

Current LPG markets They also brought to the board’s attention the current markets with LPG imports and exports. Another key point they made is this facility would be denied for an LNG permit by the federal government’s standards and essentially LPG and LNG act in much the same way as flammable materials. As Frank Gallagher put it, the difference is between burning yourself with fire from a match or burning yourself on a hot stove, the result is the same. The big picture question still remains: why would Searsport ever want this facility—knowing the inherent risks involved??

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Moore
USCG Capt Moore
We heard also from U.S. Coast Guard Captain Moore who after making a number of points when questioned by TBNT attorney Steve Hinchman essentially agreed that the Coast Guard’s opinion was the same as Good Harbor’s, that there are too many unanswered questions, the channel needs to be dredged and there are no marine fire tugs that can respond to an emergency.

David Gelinas of the Penobscot Bay Pilots
David Gelinas of the Penobscot Bay Pilots got into the record his statements that some of these ships coming to Searsport would not be carrying full load, either making another stop first before Searsport or coming in without a full cargo. His exercise appeared pointless as pointed out by David Italiaander, there currently are no ships delivering either LPG or LNG coming to the U.S.

Searsport Planning Board:
Some members of the planning board did ask questions. One being what is a “most likely scenario”. The response from the Good Harbor team was a combination of a human error, either someone making a mistake not paying attention to the task at hand, a motor vehicle accident, a piece of machinery that breaks down or a combination of both.

DCP cross examines
The cross examination by DCP’s attorney was, as we have seen before, ineffective. DCP presented a blast analysis, commissioned by Baker Engineering (the Good Harbor subcontractor) in July, 2012 without any support documentation. This was a confounding moment, as suddenly this map appeared on the screen. We will investigate fully and report on this.

Bud Rivers Searsport Safety Chief
Almon Rivers, the safety chief of Searsport took an adversarial position while questioning Good Harbor. His tone left this resident of Searsport with grave concerns if he really has the safety and well-being of Searsport as his primary concern, or if his allegiance is toward proving at any cost that the 22.7 Gallon mega-tank DCP Midstream proposes can be built and operated safely.

Feb 6, 2013

Maine Striped Bass meeting on Feb 12th on restoring & sustaining them.

Striped bass-huggers: On February 12 , 6:00pm in Yarmouth, Maine DMR is is hosting a public meeting for recreational anglers, conservation groups, and resource managers to discuss how to restore and sustain both native and migratory striped bass populations. 

The meeting will be at the Log Cabin, 196 Main St in Yarmouth.  (see map) Note: parking is in back. Link is to a little historical (1883) observation about stripers.


Maine striped bass background

Maine DMR  striped bass regulations (2012)

2012 Maine Striped Bass Fishing Results

Maine Striped Bass - Office of Tourism

Maine Stripers - Maine Striped Bass fishing


Striped bass fishing in Maine New York Times

Do Striped Bass (Roccus Linneatus) feed on Menhaden? 1883
By Gideon Mosher [From replies to questions in a pamphlet furnished by Joseph Church, and entitled "The menhaden question."] December 26, 1882. 

Feb 3, 2013

US Navy- Maine waters sonar testing 2013 plan. February 27, 2013.deadline for input


Stand up for wild Atlantis with a quick email or two, before the US Navy gets approved by Brian Swan of Maine DMR under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to carry out sonar testing and other military actions in Maine state waters.

The deadline for Maine DMR  to accept public input on whether the sonar  and other actions are safe or not is February 27, 2013.  Details below.

WHAT IS HAPPENING The Navy has to get a Consistency Determination under the CZMA from Maine DMR that states that Maine's  marine wildlife in state waters won't be harmed by the Navy's sonar testing and other actions.  If Maine denies the Navy its approval, the Navy has to appeal directly  to President Obama for permission to override Maine. 

The Navy's proposed training and testing activities include  pier-side sonar testing at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works, surface warship and submarine sonar maintenance, and anti-submarine tracking exercises in state waters.  Outside Maine state waters the Navy wants to carry out "at-sea testing of active sound navigation and ranging (sonar) devices, gunnery exercises, and torpedo tests". 

The  Navy has prepared a draft "Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Overseas EIS"  Maine DMR's  is supposed to read it and decide if it will harm Maine "marine resources". the EIS actually covers the waters along the entire east coast and Gulf of Mexico. But Maine is at the top end of the chain so what gets decided here, matters as precedent. The Navy website includes links to their environmental and conservation studiesm, including marine mammals and seabirds.

DEADLINE FEBRUARY 27, 2013 Written public comments regarding the Navy's getting a consistency determination must be submitted by email or postal mail to: Brian Swan, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, 194 McKown Point Road, West Boothbay, Maine 04575-008, brian.swan@maine.gov, on or before February 27, 2013.
.
Swan has been DMR federal  liaison for a long time. He usually just approves whatever the feds, Navy or others, want. YOU have an opportunity to stiffen his resolve to stand up for the wild marine life that the state of Maine proposes to turn its back on, while the navy proceeds with its antisub war games. The deadline is  February 27, 2013, if you want to get your two cents in.

Written public comments to: Brian Swan, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, 194 McKown Point Road, West Boothbay, Maine 04575-008, brian.swan@maine.gov  on or before February 27, 2013.

DMR Notice of Federal Consistency Determination. (full text)
 Read  below or Click Here for web versionPublic comment deadline 2/27/13
(Note: I boldfaced words and made paragraph breaks for quick reading)

"Please take notice that pursuant to Section 307 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C33.1456, the United States Department of the Navy (Navy) has determined that military training and testing activities that it proposes to conduct in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area (Study Area) are consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the Maine Coastal Program. 

The Navy has requested the State's concurrence with its determination.

The Study Area, which covers the United States East Coast and Gulf of Mexico, extends from the mean high water mark into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and thus includes state and federal coastal waters off Maine and other coastal states.

Proposed training and testing activities, which are listed in the Navy's consistency determination, include those that are proposed to occur outside state coastal waters, such as at-sea testing of active sound navigation and ranging (sonar) devices, gunnery exercises, and torpedo tests; and activities that are proposed to or may occur in state coastal waters, such as pier-side sonar testing (at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works), surface ship and submarine sonar maintenance, and anti-submarine tracking exercises.

No activities are proposed to be conducted on land in Maine. Deadline for public comments are February 27, 2013

The Navy's consistency determination and supporting information, the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which assesses the potential environmental impacts of the activities proposed in the Study Area, are available for public inspection during normal working hours at the Department of Marine Resources, 194 McKown Point Road, West Boothbay, Maine or the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Geology, Natural Areas and Coastal Resources/Maine Coastal Program, 17 Elkins Lane, Augusta, Maine.

The DEIS and related information may also be reviewed on-line and downloaded from the following Navy website: http://aftteis.com/ Written public comments regarding the Navy's consistency determination may be submitted to: Brian Swan, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, 194 McKown Point Road, West Boothbay, Maine 04575-008, brian.swan@maine.gov, on or before February 27, 2013.PUBLIC NOTICE PUBLIC NOTICE

Appeared in: Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Sunday, 01/27/2013