Dec 5, 2008

Sears Island: Baldacci Biting Back.

Maine public radio news reported yesterday (mp3) that MDOT and the Governor are aggressively pressing members of the legislature's transportation committee members to abandon the Savage Plan for Sears Island, that the committee adopted late last month.

Senator Christine Savage's Plan, approved by the Transportation Committee on November 18th: "I move the compromise agreement, including the conservation easement reached by the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee, be accepted in principle, but left unsigned by this committee until a port is permitted on Sears Island. The Transportation Committee will submit a bill to the 124th Legislature, directing the Maine Department of Transportation to move forward with all practical speed to see that a port is permitted on Sears Island. Once that permit is in hand, the agreement before this committee will be signed."

Governor's response to the unanimous vote approving the Savage Plan? Bite back!

"Negotiations over a final agreement on the future of Sears Island continue, " MTC's AJ Higgins said. "At issue is a proposed cargo port that would be built on the 930 acre island near Searsport, and at least one critic of the plan says that now would be a good time to re-evaluate the approval process."

Governor Baldacci is obviously worried that he'll become a two time loser on Sears Island - in 2004 and '05 his plan for an LNG terminal was exposed then withdrawn. This time, unless he can force the Legislature's Transportation Committee to recant their unanimous approval the Savage Plan, though, that's just what is going to happen.

In the midst of this, according to Maine Things Considered, Penobscot Bay Watch and other groups have announced intentions to submit a petitionl to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection asking that it assume jurisdiction and order MDOT to obtain a planning permit before obtaining legislative approval.

Reaction to the Baldacci onslaught is mixed so far, with Senator Diamond willing to kowtow to the Guv, and Senator Damon and Representative Hogan unmoved by Baldacci's and MDOT's pleas. The rest? Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Read about Sears Island's 1990's eco-battles over a cargoport

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