Jan 28, 2009

Mitigation Bankers to meet soon in Searsport - last step before divvying up Sears Island

Ah yes. That poignant little phrase of the Sierra Clubbers: 'Don't worry, they'll never build on Sears Island,' is about to enter the history books alongside the "Dewey defeats Truman " headlines of yore.

Why, Because MDOT has now resubmitted its umbrella mitigation bank prospectus to the Army Corps of Engineers for approval. (link is to the notice from June 2008 that was cancelled in November (pdf)) The Corps' mitigation bank officer Ruth Ladd wrote in response to a recent inquiry:

"Yes, there will be a new Public Notice on the resubmitted prospectus and there will be a public meeting in Searsport. I anticipate sending out the Public Notice on February 3."

THAT'S RIGHT. This direct result of the signing of the final order on Sears island, makes it now possible for MDOT to 'bank' the value of the "conserved" portion of Sears island for its first 'deposit' in its spanking new mitigation bank.

Why? So MDOT can then 'spend' that value compensating for the savagery it is about to inflict upon the salmon, sturgeon and baby cod who rely on the shallow brackish shoals that must be dredged to make Sears Island safe for container ships.

This time, thanks to the credulous JUPCians - Sierra Club in particular, Sears Island has been transformed into a 600 acre wad of mitigation cash - called by some a 'conservation easement', a 300 acre transportation parcel, upon which that wad will be dropped, and the great unspoken 500 acres of nursery shoal that will be wrecked. ('Not our issue,' intones JUPC, 'we're upland-focused. The Bay be d__ed')

So things should go just splendidly for MDOT and the island depredator it has waiting in the wings. The Army Corps of Engineers and Maine DOT will come to Searsport this spring, bearing mitigation bankers on their shoulders. Becky and Steve of Penobscot Bay Alliance and Islesboro Islands Trust respectively will proclaim their discomfort with the bank using their 600 acre playground as credit to despoil the rest of the island and its fish nurseries. Then they will exude sternly worded letters in a futile attempt at CYA.

Sierra Club too may register its displeasure, though not too likely; its headline story on Sears Island in the new edition of the Maine Sierran neglects to mention the umbrella mitigation plan even once.

If they do show, Sierra Club's Ken Cline - Joan'll be busy - will frown severely at the MDOT and Corps officials lined up at the front table and deliver a lengthy but meaningless lecture, aimed mostly at garnishing a few mea culpa soundbites. Commissioner Kenneth Cole will cough to hide his grin.

Crocodile tears shall flow in such quantities from the JUPC-ites as to threaten the very brackishness of the upper bay estuary, which is lapping quietly at the shore across Route One from the meeting.

But that's okay. Maine Coast Heritage Trust will again attempt to reassure the other sellouts that the environmental quality of Sears Island ain't so great anyway, so why give a ****?   "We do not have a wild island"  Scott intones. "We have an island that owned by the state of Maine that's been occupied for two hundred years by different levels of intensive use."

(Earth to Dickerson - It's had intensive use for over eight thousand years, Scotty.  Just not the 20th century, which non-exploitation being  why it IS a wild island.  But we forget: the immense archaeological and prehistoric assets of the island that would be paved over are not your Baldaccian charge, so they don't matter.) 

Finally the Army Corps andf Maine DOT will put an end to the farce, thank the assembled for their input, and then go on their merry way to the office of the port applicant, where a toast will be drunk to the Sierra Club and its little hangers-on in FOSI and PBA, for making mitigation to build a port possible.

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