Oct 2, 2008

Sears Is. JUPC-ian bobble-heads try to shrug off the Sacrifice Zone.

"It's not Joint Use Planning you've been carrying out; it's Single Use Planning."

So said Ron Huber on behalf of Penobscot Bay Watch and Fair Play for Sears
Island at the October 3rd meeting of the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee.

The response (in so many words:) sorry! not our department. We don't have to care about the pollution and habitat loss that the Second Joint Use -port construction- would bring.

Why not?

Because Governor Baldacci only "tasked us" with protecting the easement area. That was the answer, summarized . Everyone nodded emphatically. They didn't HAVE to care about the other part of the island. Let the chips fall there as they may. Let that rabid dog sleep....we'll deal with it after it awakens and starts biting into the island.

After all, the land trusters have got their pound of flesh, all 600+ acres of it; the Sierra Club gets to host group events at a Wal-Mart sized educational/recreational complex plopped unceremoniously into the midst of the island's so-called "protected" area; the port wannabes have got carte blanche to do what they wilt in the western part of the island.

Huber presented copies of a "Transportation Area Advisory Council" proposal put togther by Fair Play for Sears Island and Penobscot Bay Watch to JUPC's members at the beginning of the meeting and gave a brief intro outlining the main points:

* In any conceiveable configuration of an industrial port, the 330 acre'Marine Transportation Zone" would be subject to the environmental impacts of dredging, land clearing and the chronic waste discharges associated with port, trucking and rail development and operation.

* An advisory council of scientific and environmental NGOs and agencies is needed to provide guidance to MDOT and other state agencies when they review development proposals and on carrying out environmental management of the 330 acre site and its abutting 120 acre nursery shoal.

The council membership could be (groups and agencies listed only as examples)

• Maine Department of Environmental Protection,
• Maine Department of Conservation;
• Maine Department of Marine Resources
• Fair Play For Sears Island
• Conservation Law Foundation
• Penobscot Bay Stewards
• University of Maine School of Marine Sciences
• Downeast Lobstermens' Association
• Midcoast Fishermens Alliance

Huber then used the public comment period at the close of the meeting to point out the importance of aggressive oversight of the marine port zone. He twitted their failure as a committee to get beyond planning solely for the "single use" of managing the on-island auditorium, nature center and hiking trails within the 640 acre portions of eastern and southeastern Sears Island, under a "perpetual" easement to be given Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

The 330 acre sacrifice zone and its adjoining fish nursery shoal? What about that? Is there no Planning for Sears island's "second use" of hosting an industrial port? Are MDOT's Joint Use Planners planning... not to plan? Just react to whatever port development wannabe shows up?

No planning on how to limit damage to Penobscot Bay's productive fisheries, tourism and recreation industries from the handful of possible commercial/industrial port types that could conceivably be built on Sears Island?

Compare this to the RTAC work done on the highways of the state. The Regional Transportation Advisory Committees went over the highways and bridges of our state with fine toothed combs.

So here's MDOT, the Sierra Club, the land trustees and otherJUPC-ites, studiously taking not the slightest interest or even notice of the shipping and port industries' pack of 800 pound gorillas poised to dredge, blast and bulldoze their way onto the island.

Or if they do, 'it's only to squint nearsightedly and say "Look! Something warm and fuzzy!"

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