Oct 29, 2010

Ragged Mountain - a photo essay

Enjoy Camden's Ragged Mountain from many angles & seasons.  Photos by Janis Gilley
The ancient values of dignity, beauty and poetry which sustain it are of Nature’s
inspiration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world.
Henry Beston
Ragged Mountain Wildflowers

Only by going alone in silence can one truly get into heart of the wilderness.
John Muir
Slowly up the hill like a thicket of wildflowers, forever is coming. Mary Oliver
I would rather be sad in Maine than happy anywhere else.  EB White
Ski lift in late summer
Sunrise on Ragged Mountain
Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.
Aldo Leopold
At dawn its majesty is almost painful to behold. That same prehistoric look. The look of
always Nature smiling in the mirror of eternity.  Henry Miller
Ski Time on Ragged Mountain
Tobogganing on Ragged Mountain
Tobogganing on Ragged Mountain 2
Tubing on Ragged Mountain
Ragged Mountain: the birds of winter
Photos by Janis Gilley

Oct 27, 2010

Camden drops windmill plan for Ragged Mountain!

Camden Selectboard has dropped plans to appoint a Ragged Mountain Wind Work group, due to the lack of support for the plan and in fact strong public opposition.  Camden's decision sets an important precedent that all Maine towns blessed with scenic assets should heed.
See photographs of lovely  Ragged Mountain Media coverage: The Free Press... Bangor Daily News
Ragged Mountain. Photo by Jan Gilley
Listen to a podcast of the  hour long discussion and decision.
To summarize the meeting:

First a two minute presentation by Jan Gilley of  Friends of Ragged Mountain, updating on the increase in  that group's membership and on the educational events they've held around town. She also urged the proposed wind work group be balanced, and that people with ties to wind corporations be disallowed from being part of it.

The rest of the recording is the Selectboard examining the candidates for the Work Group,  selecting four people, then, after taking comments from the meeting attendees and discussing the whole mess, deciding to scrap the three town plan entirely, and focus on more benign energy conservation etc.  

Starting around  56:42  the motion is made  to shelve the plan and alert the other two towns that the three town work group is not to going to happen. A tiny bit of discussion follows and then a unanimous vote to cancel the work group. The four newly appointed work group members are discharged of their duties.
Jan Gilley photo

Oct 26, 2010

DeepCwind Consortium meets in Northport. Audio of speakers and three panels

On October 19, 2010 the 1st Annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference was held in Northport Maine, Below are links to four podcasts  recorded during that event.

Keynote speech Dr. Habib Dagher. 76 min

Economics Panel  Peter Vigue of Cianbro, John Henshaw of Maine Port Authority, State senator Chris Rector and Dana Humphrey, UMaine College of Engineering. 74 mi

Environmental Panel.  Andrea Copping, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Jason Stockwell, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Robert Steneck, UME Darling Center for Marine Sciences and Heather Deese, Island Institute. 70 min

Windstorm Challenge Project  Students Brian Carr of Brewer High School, "Jeff", "Nick" and Lexi Chasse of John Bapst High School, Mike Nickerson of Bangor High School, and Jacob Ward of Hampden Academy. 16 minutes.

Oct 20, 2010

DeepCwind Consortium meets in Northport. Audio of keynote talk & environmental panel

On October 19, 2010, Dr. Habib Dagher, director of the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, spoke for an hour and 16 minutes at the 1st annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference, about how the DeepCwind Consortium plan for developing over-the-horizon floating windfarms. Listen to his speech  Dagher is followed by a panel of 4 scientists who talk for an hour on the likely environmental impacts of developing the offshore wind test center off Monhegan Island
Media Coverage 
* 10/19 /10 WCSH TV  Consortium discusses potential for offshore wind at Northport conference  by Mike DeSumma, Multimedia Journalist
* 10/20/10 Bangor Daily News Offshore wind research aired at conference. by Bill Trotter, Reporter
WCSH TV Coverage: : NORTHPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- It has been a year since the DeepCwind Consortium received grant support from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop technology for wind turbines in deep water. On Monday that group, which is made up of state companies, manufacturers and researchers at the University of Maine hosted a special conference in Northport to discuss their progress and the current potential for offshore wind in Maine. It was open to state businesses, political leaders and even those who are skeptical of the idea.

At this time researchers say that there's enough wind off of the state's coast to produce levels of power equal to roughly 150 nuclear power plants. The goal of the consortium is to harness 3 percent of that energy over the next 20 years.

The University of Maine's Composites Center is currently working on a floating turbine and researchers say that they are looking to place it off of the coast of Monhegan Island by June of 2012. Eventually, members of the consortium hope to install a five-turbine, 25-megawatt wind farm in coastal waters.

Yet environmentalists are worried about what kind of effect those turbines will have on ocean currents and sea life.
So much of marine life spends a lot of time in the larval state as plankton," said Ron Huber, who is the executive director for the environmental group Penobscot Bay Watch, "It's totally at the mercy of water currents and you want to be very cautious about anything that can disrupt or change the nature of those currents."

"We have fish tags and mammal tags," remarked Habib Dagher, who is director of the university's composite center, noting that tests are already underway at the proposed turbine test site, "so we're studying that before the turbine gets into the water and then when we put the turbine in the water, then we'll see what difference it makes and that's the only way to find out."

The Maine Public Utilities Commissions is already taking bids for the construction of the 25-megawatt farm. Supporters of the project say those bids are due by next May.

Photographs by Ron Huber

Oct 15, 2010

Jonathan Carter & Vinalhaveners tell Camden: Don't be gulled by wind power industry

On October 14, 2010, the Camden Public library sponsored a talk & presentation on Maine windpower issues. Following introductions by Camden Library staff Ken Gross, and Friends of Ragged Mountain spokes person Dorie Klein,  Jonathan Carter of the Forest Ecology Network gave his presentation on Maine windpower issues at the Camden Public Library.  

Listen below to Carter's talk,  followed by Vinalhaven citizens Art and Cheryl Lindgren on their experience with that island's three windmills, followed by a lively Q&A session. Note: these are mp3 files.
Slide show audio. 22 minutes

Oct 13, 2010

Rockport Selectboard disparages windpower relative to scenic resources, but opts in to be a player in Ragged Mtn 3-Town Wind Group

On October 12, 2010 the Rockport Selectboard  heard presentations in support of the Ragged Mountain wind plan by two members of the Camden Energy Committee, concerning the proposed three town Windpower Task Group. Several of the Selectboard members disparage windpower relative to scenic resources, but finally the board votes unanimously to  opt in - to have a say in whatever Ragged Mtn Wind Group is coming about. The town is seeking applicants to become their representatives

Introduction to the October 12, 2010 Rockport Selectboard 

Des Fitzgerald  of the Camden Energy Committee speaks 7 minutes

Rick Knowlton of Camden Energy Committee speaks, questioned 6 minutes

Rick Knowlton of Camden Energy Committee speaks, questioned part 2 8 minutes

Rick Knowlton of Camden Energy Cmomittee speaks, questioned 3 10 minutes

Selectboard considers & votes in favor of  a motion to join the  Ragged Mountain wind work group 7 minutes

Audience Q&A Part 1 11 minutes

Audience Q&A Part 2 to End 8minutes

Penbay.org website hacked, FIXED

UPDATE - HOORAY my internet service provider dug out the malware and google relented. Everything's cool

Some hacker somewhere snuck malicious code onto my website, freaking out google and getting a malware warning slapped on it.  The mal-junk has been removed by my ISP; we await google's ponderous but imminent lifting of its malware tag

Oct 1, 2010

Sears Island case goes to Maine Supreme Judicial Court

The legal dispute continues over the future of  Penobscot Bay's Sears Island, as part of the September 8th decision by Maine Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hjelm dismissing a long running case against MDOT's division of Sears Island gets appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.  

Meeting as the Law Court, the justices will consider Penobscot Bay activist Ron Huber's  September 29, 2010 appeal of Hjelm's decision. The complaint states that the exercise of  Public Law Chapter 277 "An Act Regarding the Management and Use of Sears Island" by the Maine Legislature's Transportation Committee, to approve the division of the island into protected area and marine port zone  violates the Maine Constitution's Article 3: "Distribution of powers". 

Huber's appeal of the Huber v MDOT case's dismissal hinges on the fact that, while Judge Hjelm ruled against his standing as regards the impacts of the conservation easement, the judge  was silent on the issue of Huber's standing for the second part of his case - his complaint that Public Law Chapter 277 violates the Maine Constitution's Article 3. "Distribution of powers".   

There are completely different sets of standards and criteria for evaluating standing on this constitutional question, than Judge Hjelm used in his ruling on the review of the conservation easement itself.

Passed in 2005, Public Law 277 requires MaineDOT  "...to bring before the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over transportation matters for review and approval, any proposal that would alter the current land use, ownership or jurisdiction of lands owned by the State within the Port of Searsport presently under the jurisdiction of the department." (Emphasis added)

 But, Huber's appeal notes that Article 3 of the Maine Constitution limits what may and may not be done by each of  Maine's branches of government. Furthermore, according to  MRSA 3 §165  Joint Committees, Authority. the power to approve or disapprove of land use decisions is not vested in the Maine legislature's joint committees. That law states that  the legislature's joint committees exist solely to collect information and provide recommendations about legislation to the full House of Representatives and Senate.  
By giving the Transportation Committee the power to approve or block land use decisions made by the Department of Transportation, Public Law 277 violates both Article 3 of the Maine Constitution and  Maine's statute 3 MRSA §165, It is a  usurping of executive branch decisionmaking authority by a single legislative committee. 

This was demonstrated on November 18, 2008, when the Legislature's Transportation Committee voted unanimously to bar MDOT from signing a conservation easement with Maine Coast Heritage Trust until after a Sears Island container port applicant received all necessary state permits. According to the committee clerk, the final wording of the motion by Senator Christine Savage, R-Knox County, that was then unanimously approved was:

"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 Baldacci and MDOT Commissioner David Cole protested strongly to the Transportation Committee chairs, to no avail.  For two months, Maine's Executive Branch was completely unable to move forward with its planned signing of the Sears Island conservation easement, thanks to Transportation Committee chairman Dennis Damon's use of  PL 277 on the motion from Senator Savage.

But then on January 13th 2009  and on January 16th, 2009  after closed door meetings with the Governor,  Senator Damon forced a re-vote of the committee's  November 18th decision. Many committee members protested reversing a unanimous decision of a few months before. 

The resulting split decision de-linked signing of the conservation easement with acquisition of permits by a port applicant, allowing the executive branch to move ahead  immediately with the easement signing, putting 600 acres of Sears Island's public lands under control of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, with the explicit understanding that the state would pursue development