May 20, 2008

Sierra Club's path to salvation on Sears Island

What would John Muir do?

If it is to regain credibility as defender of natural Maine, Sierra Club must stand away from the little charmed circle of JUPC. Must organize and host public meetings about the port plan around the bay. To hear from sailors , fishermen and others what they think about planning a new industrial port at the head of their bay. Not later, at the permit-fighting stage with lawyers for all sides running amuck, but now. Before the island rezoning plan is approved by the legislature.

That's what John Muir would do. Bring it to the people.

Look at the case of Plum Creek and its Moosehead plan. LURC is running a highly transparent zoning process, heavy on public involvement, with hearings, exhibits, testimony. Cross-examination. All on a rezoning plan. Like MDOT's for Sears Island.

So why does Sierra Club find MDOT's small group consensus process acceptable? It is undemocratic and exclusive, not inclusive. Beyond Stockton Springs and Searsport, a dozen other Penobscot Bay towns will be affected by the operation of a container port at the head of Penobscot Bay. (Four more towns if vessels use the eastern passage up and downbay, rather than the western.) Have these towns' people been apprized of the port planning process?
Been consulted? NO.

Worst of all MDOT's consensus players have actively sought to evade opportunities for environmental review of their rezoning plan by the public and the agencies with a claim tp managing some natural resource on Sears Island, rather than welcome them as adding to the Committee's understanding of the island.

The disinclination of Conservation Law Foundation and by Natural Resources Council of Maine, two giants of Maine Conservation, to join in Maine DOTs consensus process for Sears Island should be telling Sierra Club something.

Maine Sierra Club's Conservation chair Ken Cline needs to get beyond hurling ad hominem thunderbolts at critics of his group's actions within the JUPC consensus process. Broaden that consensus circle, Ken. Encompass all of Penobscot Bay in the picture before the decision goes before the legislature this December.

To paraphrase John Donne:

No island is an island, entire of itself; every island is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

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