Oct 15, 2008

Sears Island - Legislators don't trust Sierra Club

Better no Sears Island plan than this flawed one.

A sentiment shared by pro-porters and anti-porters at today's statehouse meeting. (though not held by the JUPCians)

Inside packed room 126 of the Statehouse today, members of the Joint Committee on Transportation reacted with suspicion to the latest version of the Sears Island Joint Use Committee's plan brought before them. LISTEN TO RECORDINGS FROM THE EVENT HERE

This latest iteration grants ENGO Maine Coast Heritage Trust a perpetual conservation easement over 600 acres of the 940 island, while simultaneously opening the western third of the island to industrial port development.

Opponents of the port plan have been suggesting to committee members that the lengthy draft conservation easement contains wording in its fine print that will give the Sierra Club and Maine Coast Heritage Trust the ability to fend off any future port plan.

The whisper campaign seems to have worked. After listening to Transportation Commissioner Cole presentation, and following a lengthy question & answer session, the committee decided

(1) They would not vote on approving or disapproving the still-incomplete Joint use Plan (there are still issues with the exact wording of the easement) , and

(2) they didn't trust Sierra Club, Friends of Sears Island and Penobscot Bay Alliance not to turn around once the legislature signed off on the JUPC plan and and stab them in the back by suddenly bringing anti port litigation up when a container port wanabe rears its head.

Lush photographs of the island taken a few days earlier proved popular with committee members, though Chairman Damon took umbrage at the term "sacrifice zone" that accompanied the online picture gallery of the natural environment in the proposed port zone that he was referring to.

There'll be another legislature meeting on Sears Island next month. Who knows what will happen?

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