May 31, 2010

FOPSI and the incredible shrinking Sears Island

In her June  2010 article updating the status of Sears Island after a year under the Conservation Easement : Signs of stewardship on Sears Island, the usually thorough Catherine Schmitt steers cautiously, assiduously avoiding the "P" word (Port) that,  like barely hidden ledge, would tear a hole in  the entire song and dance of those featured in her story, the FOPSIs "Friends of Parts of Sears Island"  into an "and the band played on" Titanic scenario.   And that wouldn't do.   
     Instead, while the island's lushly wet western forests and saltmarshes  are at increased  risk of being destroyed, of vanishing beneath waves of concrete, steel and asphalt as an industrial port materializes, the tale of FOPSI  is one of tranquil mending of paths and byways of their "protected portion" of Sears Island, oblivious to the din, the shudder and roar of industry - scant yards from their piece of truncated paradise!

     One thinks of an Island Institute editor grimly trimming away all of Schmitt's sentences describing dissent with the plan, litigation and otherwise, that gives a pair of ENGOs control over 600 acres of the 900+ acre island. At least one HOPES such an editor had at her story. For, what of those opponents of dividing the island?                What of  the three civil actions currently in  Maine Superior Court, contesting the validity of the state's easement deal with Maine Coast Heritage Trust  granting a private company a perpetual easement governing two thirds of Sears  Island?  
What about the 1000s of Mainers and others who've made their opposition to island-splitting deals clear, decade after decade? 
     Schmidt dismisses (there is no other word) these concerned multitudes (who reside on all parts of the Maine political spectrum) thus:

"Others, however, are a bit upset about the changes."
     Who are these upset ones? Dissent  having been relegated to being only a "bit",however,  there's no need, Schmitt evidently thinks, to cudgel the poor readers' brains with any details on those people. 
     Beyond that shredding of the article, one is troubled that Schmitt not probe a bit more deeply. She writes:
     Because the Trust only holds the easement, and does not own the land outright, they don’t take an active management role, said McMullin.
     Evidently regarding that as the final word, Schmitt doesn't trouble to consult the aforementioned easement, which gives Maine Coast Heritage Trust, as "the Holder" myriad decisionmaking powers over land use  up to the power to bar people from the island entirely.  
After describing  the trail maintenance measures undertaken on the eastern portion of Searse Island, by FOPSI, comes this gem:
The Friends have access to the western side of the island, most of which is retained by DOT, said Marietta, “but we’re not anxious to put too much time into that area.
     And why does anxiety lurk in that area, pray tell?   The reader is left to imagine for herself the terrors lurking in those swampy forests covering western Sears Island. For Schmitt doesn't. Is it those brooks lacing their way down to Searsport Harbor, the ones that would be filled, cemented over - are they the source of the FOPSI-ites' anxiety? We are left hanging.
    That's it. that's the lock, stock and barrel of Schmitt's article's mention of the ongoing dissent over the future of Wassumkeag.  All I can say is...
    A pox on those editors and their cutting room floors! Their cuts and their pastes!  One has always expected this in the Herald Gazette and other general news pubs; it aches to find the same smoke cloudery by the Island Institute's editors.

May 25, 2010

Island Institute & Richard Podolsky on the negatives of windfarming

Well, they tried. 
Windmill industry boosters Richard Podolsky,environmental consultant, and Susan Pude of the Island Institute/Maine Community Wind spoke in Rockport at a May 20th  public forum about windturbines on the Maine coast.  Since no critics of windpower were invited to be speakers, the boosters themselves had to say something about the adverse effects of windfarming. Wasn't easy for them. Here are excerpts on that dodgy subject, pulled from their complete talks* Mr.Podolsky spends two minutes at the end of his long talk describing some of theproblems associated with windfarming. 

Susan Pude gives two minutes review of "negatives" of island windfarming  This at the end of her talk, which followed Podolsky's, at the Wind Forum meeting May 20th in Rockport, Maine.

May 24, 2010

GOM and GOM. The struggles continue.

Attorney gaming today: The deepwater wind  R&D test site-enabling agency called Bureau of Parks and Lands  recently gave me 100s of pages of records on how they chose the Monhegan test area.  Then suddenly it occurred to me the deadline for responding to it loomed. 6 hrs left!
Babble Stations! the klaxon roared. To the word processor I hastened. But even heavy doses of Morning Thunder failed to cause the whole jumble to coalesce. What does it all mean? I groaned, twitching with mate' overdose, turning draft motions-to-extend into paper airplanes and flinging them at my window fan.

Then the phone rings: it's a mystic I've enlisted in the effort to convince the windgods to keep blowing the BP spill west and north. Away from the Loop and away from everything east of Florida's outer panhandle.  Progress is encouraging; the plume of oil that was moving to the SE towards the Loop Current is being shoved west away from Florida and Cuba and toward  the center of the Gulf of Mexico. Back, maybe, toward the home leak. That's it, slime-o, go home, mama's calling... \

With that under control for the moment, it's back to the other GOM - the Gulf of Maine. Suing on behalf of Beauty and the Beasts against that Mordor-in-sheep's-clothing we call nearshore wind extraction industry. First, I  call the lawyers:
Me: Time keeps on slippin', slippin,,into the futurrrrre...Gimme 3 more weeks to strain the Official Record through my synapses. And I want a digital data dump. You down with that, law-persons?
Atty 1 (State AAG)  Cool. How about we arrange for you to pump BPL and SPO's Coastal Program's techies for those digital details you want?
Me: Okay, I'll drop those digital data details from the Motion; judge don't need'em. Next?
Atty 1. Summarized: You get your three week extension to peruse the official record  then you can order the details from the BPL and SPO.
Me: (verbal fist bump with Atty 1) Then I ask: "U-Maine-ster?"
Atty 2 (UMaine's)  Good to go if Atty 1 is. Yes? Then send us copies and, while you're at it, will you please think about cutting a deal before the case goes too much farther?

Me:  Um...I'll be in touch.  Later!  (Deal? An idea starts to form....)

May 20, 2010

GMRI is getting into marine genetic engineering - right at the Maine shore!

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute says it plans to do some gene hacking in order to:
"...enable and promote innovation in marine diversification in the Gulf of Maine." 

 See part 2 of their advertisement below. But beyond the rather obvious fact that marine gene splicing should be done well away from the ocean - say the midwest or the desert regions - the last time this was tried  in Maine it too was just a storm drain away from the Gulf of Maine.  That time, the plan was to hack the genes of seaweeds, adding a toxin to the algae that would inhibit "bio-fouling" on  farmed algae.  Biofouling is the accumulation of marine organisms onto receptive surfaces under water. A boat hull covered with barnacles has been biofouled.

The problem with adding that anti biofouling gene  to a living algae is that when (not IF) it escapes, it may outcompete the natural seaweeds that don't exude poison and that do nurture wild marine nature.  

Replacing seaweeds that nurture with seaweeds that KILL would play havoc with the oceanic ecosystem. 

But with the hubris of money and backed by a potent public relations effort, the GOMRI-ites will tell you that they will never never ever spill any of their mutants into the ocean that is only a few feet from their lab.  Read their advert below.

Community Research Intern
Posting Date:  May 7, 2010
As the GOClosing Date:  May 20, 2010

Community Research Intern Position Available June to December, 2010
Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101
Contact: Jonathan Labaree
Sector Initiative Program Manager 207/228-1630 -
GMRIs Community Department seeks a full-time temporary intern from June to December, 2010, to conduct research supporting two projects:
1) GMRI provides technical assistance to 14 of the 17 groundfish sectors operating in New Englands waters. 
2) GMRI is developing a program to enable and promote innovation in marine diversification in the Gulf of Maine. The initial phase of this project will be a comprehensive analysis of innovative uses of marine resources from around the world in an effort to identify key opportunities of the Gulf of Maine. The intern will assist the Director of Community Initiatives by collecting and analyzing data on marine innovation and its applicability to our region. The programs goal is to facilitate the development of new niche marine markets in renewable energy, bio-environmental monitoring, water management, marine biotech/pharma and functional foods.

May 18, 2010

Monhegan Deepwater Wind R&D Site: New Development in court case

We've just received the "Administrative Record" that Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands was required to supply me and Maine Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hjelm. Please help me understand them! The 327+ pages are supposed to contain all the info the BPL used to make its December 14, 2009 decision to site UMaine's deepwater wind test site off Monhegan Island, instead of any of three sites further downeast.. These "records" will be used by Judge Jeffrey Hjelm to decide if the Bureau of Parks and Lands' decision was lawful or not in Huber v Bureau of Parks and Lands

They include
Index of the Administrative Record. 5 pages
Part I. BPL's signed document designating the Monhegan, Boon and Damariscove test sites, and the final version of state legislation that authorized them to do so. 27 pages
Part 2 Site Selection methodology, notes of meetings with federal agencies, outreach committee notes, outreach meeting notes, USF&WS letters & comments. 43 pages
Part 3 Large foldouts. Not uploaded yet
Part 4 Outreach schedule, Dept of Conservation website on ocean energyPub info announcement 8.27.09 and 9/1/09. List of meeting attendees, slideshow 9/9/09 Ellsworth Meeting agenda and notes. 39 pages
Part 5 Meetings notes and agendas at Planning Area C (Monhegan) meetings: 8/26/09, 10/8/09; 15 page powerpoint presentation; 10/8/09 meeting notes; site location ranking documents. 43 pages
Part 6 Isle au Haut deepwater wind test site meeting agendas and documents. 14 pages
Part 7 Machias and Cutler sites meetings agendas and documents. 65 pages/
Part 8 Public Notices,Monhegan landowners list, Letters/emails from citizens of Cutler area, Machias, Monhegan and elsewhere in Maine. NGOs Friends of Acadia, ME Lobstermen's Association, Nature Conservancy, The Ocean Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, AGENCIES: Acadia NP, MDIFW, USFWS, US Navy, UNIVERSITY UMaine geologists & reply, 85 pages
Part 9. Meetings notes: USFWS 10/15/09 meeting; Maine Audubon Society 10/13/09 meeting; / Acadia National Park 9/9/09 meeting; Ocean Energy Task Force mtg 6/18/09 at Island Institute (12 pages)

May 17, 2010

Monhegan offshore windmill test area lawsuit record. PARTS 1 & 2 , 4 & 5

Huber v Bureau of Parks and Lands. Below are links to 4 of the ten sections of the Record that contains all the information that the Bureau used to decide that waters off Monhegan  were suitable Monhegan Deepwater Wind R&D site lawsuit.

Index to the Record Table of contents and introductory letters.

Part 1 of the Record 27 pages. The Bureau's decision, maps, and enabling state legislation

Part 2 of the Record 40 pages  Site selection methods, notes of mtgs with federal agencies, outreach committee notes, USFWS letter and comments.
Part 3 of the Record. Charts (to be added)
Part 4 of the Record  39 pages Outreach schedule; state website on ecean energy; public information meeting announcements 8/27/09 and 9/1/09. List meeting attendees; slideshow; Ellsworth 9/9/09 meeting agenda and notes.

Part 5 of the Record. Meetings notes and agendas at Planning Area C (Monhegan) meetings: 8/26/09, 10/8/09; 15 page powerpoint presentation; 10/8/09 meeting notes (edited); site location ranking documents

Parts 6 through 10 still to come. See index.
Stay tuned. Your comments welcome!

May 9, 2010

Penobscot Bay Report Podcast: May 8, 2010: Lobsters, Raw Faith and Maine State

On this weekend's Penobscot Bay Report podcast  on coastal Knox County's   WRFR LPFM, Community radio, I talked with Artie Johnson, lifelong Rockland Harbor lobsterman, about the coming fishing season, the price of bait, the latest in the ongoing saga of the galleon Raw Faithand about that other big local economic engine that  some lobstermen  have shuttled through on occasion - the Maine State Prison. Interwoven with the sounds of Rockland Harbor's waves, gulls,  foghorns and ships 28 minutes.

May 4, 2010

Risk the eels, to keep BP oil spill away from eastern Seaboard? UPDATE

Operation Sargasso Sorrow. The surface currents that would transport the BP oil spill north of the Gulf of Mexico, can be diverted into an eastern heading, sending them straight east into the western core of the Sargasso Sea gyre.   

UPDATE: BP HOrizon Cleanup HQ sends email declining to try  current diversion:
--------- Forwarded message ----------
Horizon Support <>
Date: Sat, May 8, 2010 at 5:43 PM
Subject: Horizon Call Center - Your Recent Submission
Dear Ron Huberr,
Thank you so much for taking the time to think about and submit your proposed solution regarding the Horizon incident. Your submission has been reviewed for its technical merits. Unfortunately, the team has determined that your idea cannot be applied under the very challenging and specific operating conditions we face. All of us on the Horizon Support Team appreciate your thoughts and efforts.
Sincerely yours,
Horizon Support Team

But...the oil will tend to be contained within the gyre; there, remediation can be concentrated on a single shoreless location, rather than along the coasts of the Atlantic eastern seaboard. 

HOW WHAT WHERE WHY: Deploy large numbers of upwelling devices (pumps, floating windmills,etc to pull up giant cold water plumes from the bottom to the surface, offshore from the southern tip of  Everglades National Park to  west of the Dry TortugasNtional Marine Sanctuary as could be done., setting up a cold water barriers - like  giant oil boom 100 feet to keep the oil offshore.   T See: Göran Broström, Norwegian Meteorological Institute's paper "On the influence of large wind farms on the upper ocean circulation"   Navies should also tow as many large and medium icebergs south to join the line of spill diversion, Plenty of loose chunks floating about, east of Newfoundland 

Enough deployed, the "thermal water walls": cold, dense and maintained there by the churning upwelling action of every pump that every navy and merchant vessel of the world can deploy there, every floating ocean wind turbine (dern! there's only one!) that can be towed there, will divert the less dense oiled waters out and eastward to the Sargasso Gyre. This could be genocidal toward American Eels, given their dependence on the Sargasso for reproductive purposes.  Europe would likely get a short micro-ice age from the temporary diversion of the Gulf Stream east into the Sargasso Sea gyre instead of north into the NW & NE Atlantic.  Sometimes there are no good choices, only bad ones versus terrible ones.