Apr 29, 2010

Maine DEP & BPL FOIA results on post-legislature ocean tidal & wave energy plans

April 26, 2010 BPL's FOA'd response 37 pages  Broken down into sections

* Maine Maritime Academy tidal energy plans for Bagaduce River 12 pages Click Here
* Maine Coastal Program plan to use NOAA windpower grant Click here 8 pages
* Offshore Wind MOU between Maine and the US Dept of the InteriorClick Here 11 pages
* Miscellaneous ocean wind related emails from or to  the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Most interesting of all.  Click Here 6 pages

April 27, 2010 Maine DEP FOA'd documents (35 pages) on Maine offshore tidal and wave energy plans, from the files of Office of Innovations director Beth Nagusky.  Her mail and email and other documents from between March 24 when the final wording of LD 1810, the ocean energy bill was approved, and April 9, 2010 when the FOA request was filed by Penobscot Bay Watch.

Apr 28, 2010

Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands April 2010 FOIA docs reveal state & industry hunger for GOM wind & tide energy

On April 26th the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands's Submerged lands program replied to Penobscot Bay Watch's April 9, 2010  Freedom of Access request for emails and other documents from ocean wind agencies, industry and their supporters, generated after March 24, 2010 - the day the Legislature's Energy Committee finalized LD 1810 The bill  implementing the Maine Ocean Energy task force.

Released documents include:
* Maine Maritime Academy tidal energy plans for Bagaduce River 12 pages Click Here
* Maine Coastal Program plan to use NOAA windpower grant Click here 8 pages
* Offshore Wind MOU between Maine and the US Dept of the Interior Click Here 11 pages

* Miscellaneous ocean wind related emails from or to  the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Most interesting of all.  Click Here 6 pages

Apr 25, 2010

Penobscot Bay Beach Seining 2010 update

Money has finally come available to get a new beach seine net.  Remember those jolly times pulling the beach seine on Sears Island? Read the final report on November 2009 Beach Seining (pdf) Includes maps.

So Memphis Net & Twine has what we're looking for: a 60 foot long 4 feet tall net, with  knotless 1/32" mesh. Finer mesh than the U Maine net we used last year. Less getaways by krill and juvenile fishes
Will order it Monday. Probably take a week or so.  

Apr 22, 2010

UPDATED Grouchy eco-bureaucrats FOA responses suggest politics or paper wrenchers

When one looks back at the bureaucrats one has encountered over the years,  there seems to be a  certain surliness from time to time. Usually, this signals that a developer or polluter under review is a political Bigfoot, and a certain predetermined result is being sought by the ruling party's officials.

Such are the responses I've recently received when chipping some information free from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Innovation and Assistance, and prying some loose  from the Maine Department of Conservation's  Bureau of Parks and Lands. Makes one wonder what'g going on behind the scenes.

Conservation's Bureau of Parks and Lands  replied with this forbidding form letter, while MDEP's Office of Innovation and Assistance's slightly personalized response letter  was, if anything, more unfriendly than Parks and Lands' missive.

Both agencies replied to the innocuous FOA queries (for  memos and emails sent and recv'd the first two weeks after the legislature approved the ocean energy act) as if locating this information, which altogether must occupy  no more than two or three manila folders in  file drawers only inches from the replying staffers in their respective cubicles, would require a gargantuan effort that would require extra billing and time.

It seems as though they feel themselves victims of FOA Abuse, and must reply in kind. By FOA abuse I mean those requests that demand tens of thousands of pages of documents across myriad subdepartments for years back in time, for relatively spurious reasons. Wielding the Freedom of Access Act simply to tie up government workers' time.

By contrast, Penobscot Bay Watch FOA requests are typically tightly focused; the receiving officials needing to do little searching to locate them.  But...guilt by association, one guesses.  

UPDATE: Spoke with MDEP's Pete Carney who said that he'd given the Innovations  staff until tomorrow to round up their info for me.  FOA abuse? Carney wouldn't put it that way, but he noted that  the Freedom of access law is being increasingly by litigants instead of waiting for 'production of the record' by the opposing side. This  has increased the amount of file searching and copying by magnitudes. Thus the grumpiness of the MDEP  form letter.

Apr 9, 2010

Camden Hills State Park: is secret roadbuilding there a precursor to windmills?

Just as the Bureau of Parks and Lands tried and failed  to enter the wind energy land leasing business offshore in Maine's submerged public lands, so it is presently almost certainly also seeking to open up the Camden Hills and other public lands under its jurisdiction to intensive windfarms. 

Can't do that in state parks or public reserved lands? Not a problem.  Just takes a  2/3 vote of the legislature to open any of Maine's  public lands... 

Chiefly, what mountain windtheft requires are ROADS to get the operation up there and maintained

According to this April 8, 2010 story in the Free Press the Bureau of Parks and Lands is transforming key hiking trails of Camden Hills State Park into graveled roads.  

Using the preposterous claim that this land clearing, blasting, bulldozing,  grading and graveling  is simple "trail maintenance" and as such doesn'ted approval from Maine DEP or any other agency, the Bureau has just gone off on its own initiative using private money  to hire the contractors and prison labor for the grunt work.  Whether Maine DEP has truly been in the dark about this patently unlawful activity,or is feigning so, (see closing paragraphs of above article) the whole thing is highly susupect and needs to be publicly scrutinized. Probably litigated about.

BPL likes wind mills. They were  quite upfront to the legislature about wanting to earn money leasing the public domain to the commercial wind industry. Judging from the immense fees they wanted to charge, the bureau hopes to earn big bucks leasing public land for wind. 

Let's take a deeper look at BPLs "trail maintenance" projects around the state. I doubt Camden Hills state park is the only one doing this - let alone the many non-park public lands that the Bureau of Parks and Lands administers.

Apr 5, 2010

LD 1611 Supermax Reform: Maine House votes for watered-down alternative.

"Fox: go study the hen house!" That was the directive from the Maine House of Representatives  at their 4/5/10 Hearing  on LD 1610.  Audio MP3s of the hearing.  Official summary of what passed the House:
"creates a resolve directing the Commissioner of Corrections, in consultation with the mental health and substance abuse focus group of the State Board of Corrections, to review due process procedures and other policies related to the placement of special management prisoners. The amendment also requires the commissioner to consider an appropriate timeline for regular reporting to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over corrections matters and to report all recommendations, including any suggested policy or legislative changes, to that committee by January 15, 2011. Upon receiving that report, the committee may report out a bill to the 125th Legislature."  

LISTEN TO THE HEARING (below)***  MPBN story on 4/5/10 House hearing
PART 1  23 minutes **   PART 2  32 minutes **  PART 3 30 minutes **  PART 4 20 minutes ** PART 5  23 minutes **  PART 6 25 minutes ** PART 7 25 minutes **  PART 8 7 minutes

Apr 2, 2010

Maine's Sea Wind Liberation bill: final action Monday

It has been positively Prufrockian in Maine's capital city if you care about the Wild Wind.

LD 1810 is a  bill offering the Dawn State the opportunity to lead America either into a confused beach head of fractured local economics and social unrest, or else divert the ocean wind farm wannabes further offshore.  That depends on whether on Monday April 5th the Maine Legislature finally  denies Maine's territorial tidal waters to intrusive, over-subsidized wind turbo farms like those set up on peaks and ridges of the Maine Woods.

Many more are planned  by  an alliance of utility investment groups, & high end compromise-prone state & New England eco-yuppy outfits, milking trickle-down gold from the Wind Giants. 

Then on March 24, 2010 this  ENGO/corporate hydra had its many heads handed to itselves,  for trying to wade out onto Maine's territorial sea mounts and ledges with similar "dumb growth" designs as they'd foisted on up lands.

The plan to infest Maine state  waters with  bladed towers has been left:
 "spread out against the sky / like a patient etherized upon a table.'   
 Yet similarly, final action on historic Wind Liberation legislation  too, continues to crawl glacially  toward the finish line. This time the final vote has been delayed to Monday - the very last day of the 2010 legislative session. And what amazing changes  the bill has gone through in the month since it first appeared! 

 An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force" came out of that task force ready to force open every square mile of Maine state waters to industrial scale ocean windfarming.  But from the would-be invasion's beginning on March 11th,  Maine's two give-no-ground lobstermens associations held firm, letting wave after wave of windvaders, blades glittering above their briefcased ranks like sarissas, break futilely against their Ancient  Rights.   

But even granite becomes sand under repeated waves. At a major engagement  on March 18th Maine's lobstermen's 1st Legion, the MLA, was, to their everlasting ignominy, on the verge of giving up ground,  when a wild charge roaring in on shrimper, scalloper and groundfish boats savaged the invaders'  initiative, driving the windbaggers back mile after mile with their furious onset!  

Completely out of Maine state waters! Then, on March 23rd, as the Windies tried to reform, across the Line in federal waters, they were shocked to find Maine's oceanic cavalry  pouring from Bar Harbor  and other coastal towns in  coordinated small group forays through the three mile gate after them. This would be no Gettysburg, with the southern invaders again allowed to escape after their crushing defeat....

But escape they did, after being chased ten miles from shore, and vanishing, tails tucked,  into venture capital warrens - where no sensible fishermen goes.

Magnanimous in victory, Maine's fishing industry's terms were merciful: a ten mile no-windfarms buffer stretching out from Maine's shore, beyond which the Windies could practise their extraction industry - as long as (1)  the University of Maine held a controlling interest in those operations and not Wall Street, and (2) Maine electricity users had optional first dibs on the juice coming ashore in Maine from those offshore operations. 

Permission, too, was granted to test prototype offshore floating windsnatcher technology at  three tiny border sites off Midcoast Maine, to the relief of Bath Iron Works and Prock Marine, which would build the experimental wind-gathering machines, and even the mighty offshore behemoths that would be taken  by the University of Maine deep into the Gulf over the horizon.

Treaty terms made, it is up to the maine legislature and the Governor to ratify them. Bureaucratic dawdling has delayed the final signing of the agreement  by Govenor Baldacci, but  Monday is the final day of the legislative session, and already, witnesses have "heard the mermaids singing, each to each" and the governor grumbles "I do not think that they will sing to me."

* Quotes from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." by T.S. Eliot