May 28, 2011

Maine legislature 5/26/11 Listen to lobstermen fend off bill to open Maine lobster marketing to Wall Street.

Legislators in Augusta held a public hearing 5/26/11 on LD 1579 An Act To Amend the Lobster Promotion Council  The bill, introduced by the Governor with less than 24 hours warning, on the last day the Marine Resources Committee meets for the year, met with confusion from the legislators and wrath from the fishermen whose associations' leaders had been up all night frantically studying the hefty new bill. Big industry had tried to sneak this bill in quietly. They failed.

The lobstermen convinced the committee to hold the bill over to 2012 before any more hearings, to give the people time to organize.

1. First twenty minutes - testimony by DMR Commissioner Norman Olsen - was not recorded
2. Patrice Farrell, Maine Lobstermens Association  9 minutes Supports with major amendments


May 26, 2011

Maine lobster industry in peril if bill to privatize ..VICTORY! YOU HELD THEM OFF

LD 1579 the Wall Street rush attempt to take control of lobstering in the Dawn State has been stopped in its tracks. It will come up like a bad penny  late this summer, but by that time the people of the Maine coast will have rewritten it in their own image.
 SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS SOS Maine lobstering's future at risk in Augusta  3 pm TODAY !!!
Tell the legislature's Marine Resources Committee to keep Wall Street out of Maine Lobstering ASK THEM TO HOLD LD 1579 OVER, OR GIVE IT AN ONTP                           Contact Info below Listen to committee live on internet here  (Starting 3pm)
DO THIS  Please email or phone these legislators and ask them politely but in the strongest terms possible,to hold back on a final  committee vote on LD 1579 An Act To Amend the Lobster Promotion Council until next year    

CLICK HERE for cut & paste email addresses of the Marine Resources Committee members.

1. The bill needlessly, dangerously, allows Wall Street to plug directly into the economic heart of coastal Maine's most important industry, with virtually no controls in the bill strong enough to keep this  fishery out of the claws of powerful financial speculators waiting in the wings.

2. Maine lobstering is a sustainable profitable, diverse, robust network of  community-based businesses.  As such it has had to time and again battle for its freedom. For its very life, against financial giants from Away, which have ceaselessly sought for ways to seize control of the industry, and reduce lobstermen to sharecroppers and minions.

3. LD 1579 allows big industry a way in once more. It  breaks the communities' grip on the marketing of their lobsters. It diluting the coastal community representation on the Lobster Promotion Council, instead  putting more non-lobster related interests on board, whose sole interest is in diverting as much of the cashflow from lobstering to absentee investor interests outside of our fishing communities. Outside our state and perhaps our nation.

4. LD 1579 requires frequent elections to the Lobster Promotional Council. This will break up the Council's community-based institutional memory on effective promotion of their target species and make for membership more open to the speculative wheeler dealing of the financial and investment communities. Their immediate short term goal will be: boost the catch to boost the cashflow

5. Boosting the reveneu cannot be done without opening up either younger or older lobsters to exploitation in Maine waters.
  A fool's errand: the younger will be much more valuable when fully grown; the elder lobsters lay magnitudes more eggs than those of lesser ages.   Yet LD 1579 if passed will let absentee speculators force open up one or both of those  ends of  Maine's natural lobster spectrum. With disastrous results ot the natural wild cornucopia that pours forth this critical resource.

6. While inland communities deserve to have their opinion heard on statewide seafood topics. But they have no more business being represented on the lobster promotion council, than lobstermen do advising the Katahdin Region Chamber of Commerce. 

IN SUMMARY   Maine legislators love our state's wonderful, well-managed community-supporting lobster industry. Please urge the legislators on the Marine Resources Committee RIGHT NOW to hold this bill LD 1579 over till next session, and have OPEGA or another independent analyst clarify the pluses and minuses of making these changes to the lobster promotional council.  A grateful coast will bless an honor you for your foresight and prudent caution.

Please contact these legislators (below) right now and let them know they should hold back this bill and not risk Maine's most profitable most sustainble seafood industry, for the moentary gratification of Wall Streeters. You can cut and past the list into your email  "To" or "CC" address list to reach the whole committee

The lobster you save may be your own.

May 23, 2011

Feds to public: Should we give DeepCwind $20 million? Or not?

Feds call for public input by June 9th on their draft environmental assessment of the likely impacts of the  proposed DeepCwind project off Monhegan. Feds'll then decide to give 20 millions to the University. Or not.  What does that fed draft assessment tell us? Read it and related info!
Department of Energy's Deepcwind Draft Environmental Assessment Documents. (pdfs)

DOE Public Notice of Draft Environmental Assessment 1page (Includes who to email to.)

Draft Environmental Assessment 108 pages

Scoping materials  40 pages.   What the agencies, Lobstermens Association, Pen Bay Watch etc told the feds

Letters and Consultation 34 pages   Agency letters on endangered species

DeepCwind's 2011 report on their project

Audio recordings of DeepCwind official Habib Dagher

* October 19, 2010  Habib Dagher speaks at 1st annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference (one hour)
* May 20, 2010  Habib Dagher speaks at public meeting at Rockport opera House - one hour
* Habib Dagher at two work sessions of the Maine Legislature's Utility & Energy Committee on LD 1810 An Act To Implement the recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force
 March 18,  2010  Work session   Dr Habib Dagher 12 minutes
 March 23, 2010 Work Session  Dr Habib Dagher,  10 minutesQ&A Dr. Habib Dagher,  8 minutes


May 19, 2011

Maine offshore wind extraction plan decision in motion. Public Input deadline June 9th.

Whatever you call it, whether you support it or not, the University of Maine and a host of Maine companies and companies from away are banded together and plan to start assembling (onshore) the first two prototype 2/3 size deep water floating ocean windmills, for anchoring at a site two miles south of Monhegan Island.

Like all windmills, these two  floaters will affect the natural ecosystem and environment, around them, and a host of human resource values as well. They will be chosen from among the three alternatives in the picture.
They will also be the precursors to deploying an armada of  full sized utility scale deepwater floating ocean windmills further offshore in the Gulf of Maine.

The DeepCwind strategy for this environmentas assessment appears to be to pretend these prototypes are not a step in the path to deploying a fullsized ocean windfarm in the Gulf of Maine. Thus no  need to consider  indirect or culmulative or secondary impacts.

So it is also important for this environmental assessment to acknowledge and examine the effects that THOSE big ones could have on the Gulf of Maine's  ecology and environment. Not only the effects within the footprint of the prototypes. But where they lead. 

DEADLINE Before the US Dept of Energy releases the millions to DeepCwind to proceed,  the public is given until June 9, 2011, to submit comments offering their point of view or facts that the agency needs to take into consideration . Email comments to  Snail-mail your comments to the US Dept of Energy, c/o Laura Margason, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401. Be  sure to refer to DOE/EA 1792. 

These would be comments on the plan, the possible adverse impacts both in the footprint of the prototype windmills and beyond that would be affected. The following linked documents should be be enough to enable you to send them comments that will make a difference.


Department of Energy's Deepcwind  EA Documents. (pdfs)

DOE Public Notice of Draft Environmental Assessment 1page

Draft Environmental Assessment 108 pages

Scoping materials 40 pages.   Agencies, lobstermens Association etc

Letters and Consultation 34 pages   Agency letters on endangered species

DeepCwind's 2011 report on their project

DeepCwind website

Audio recordings of DeepCwind official Habib Dagher

* October 19, 2010  Habib Dagher speaks at 1st annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference (one hour)
* May 20, 2010  Habib Dagher speaks at public meeting at Rockport opera House - one hour
* Habib Dagher at two work sessions of the Utility and Energy Committee on LD 1810 An Act To Implement the recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force
 March 18, 2010  Work session    Dr Habib Dagher 12 minutes
 March 23, 2010 Work Session  Dr Habib Dagher,  10 minutesDr. Habib Dagher, Q&A  8 minutes


Please take action to protect our wild seawinds!

May 16, 2011

DeepCwind: Feds release draft Environmental Assessment,

The US Department of Energy wants to know what YOU think about their proposal to award tens of millions of dollars to the University of Maine for its Deepwater Offshore Floating Wind Turbine Testing and Demonstration Project,  in waters  2 to 3 miles south of Monhegan Island.(the lower left corner of aerial photo)

Here are the documents that the federal agency will use to make its decision via an Environmental Assessment - PLUS whatever information you bring to them between now and June 9, 2011.   

Please read, think, mail comments to the DOE Golden Field Office, c/o Laura Margason, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401, or by email to

* Notice of Availability Public Notice from Dept of Energy about  the below 3 things                                                           
* Draft Environmental Assessment  A review of the environmental impacts that will arise from funding  the DeepCwind Plan. Written after reviewing the agency and organizations letters and other scoping materials. 115 page pdf

* Draft EA Scoping Materials  Letters from agencies, Maine Lobstermen's Association and Penobscot Bay Watch), about the issues that the Environmental Assessment should look into. 40 page pdf

* Consultation Letters Letters from agencies about protected living historic and archaeological resources in the waters proposed for the floating test windmills.

Related Information:
* Huber v Bureau of Parks & Lands  Read about what is at risk at Monhegan and about the active lawsuit presently before Knox Superior Court contesting the state's granting a permit to the University off  off Monhegan without considering the impact on irreplacement world class scenic vistas.used by generations of artists on Monhegan.

* Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Report 2/23/11 University of Maine's recent study reviewing the DeepCwind plan and its possible impacts. (Split into chapters for easier reading)

May 6, 2011

Sears Island - Maine Supreme Judicial Court rules on Huber v MDOT.

 The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has sent Sears Island activists back to the starting gate, ruling May 3rd to uphold a 2010 Superior Court decision that litigation is premature until Maine DOT actually accepts an application to build a container port on Sears Island.  

The state has sought to build a variety of facilities on the island since the mid 20th century, but opposition in the 1980s from Sierra Club and other conservationists in the 1990s and early 2000s has kept the island port-free and almost completely undeveloped.

Plaintiff Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch, was disappointed but not surprised by the court's verdict. 

"I knew that the state's failure to attract a port wannabee would influence their decision," Huber said, "but had hoped the Law Court would examine the constitutionality of  Public Law Chapter 277 "An Act Regarding the Management and Use of Sears Island,"  This is the law that gives the Legislature's Transportation Committee veto power over all Sears Island management decisions.  I still strongly  believe it violates the Maine Constitution's Article 3: "Distribution of powers".
"Over the  years" said Huber, who filed his lawsuit as a private citizen, "the state has unsuccessfully sought applicants for one after another ecologically short-sighted schemes.  This latest plan for a container port on Sears Island would convert one of midcoast Maine's top inshore fish nursery shoals (map) for atlantic cod and a wide variety of fishes and shellfishes that inhabit these irreplaceable sunlit shallows, full of eelgrass-rich shoals and intertidal kelp beds west of Sears Island,  into a dredged-out, ecologically  low quality container port harbor," he said.
  Sierra Club's otherwise exemplary history of defending Sears Island has been tarnished by the present day Maine Sierra Club chapter. The chapter leadership, without polling its members, joined with the Baldacci administration in a Joint Use committee  and in , the face of much criticism  in 2009 joined with Maine Coastal Heritage Trust in  accepting a compromise that  surrenders part of Sears Island to port development, provided the rest of the island is kept free of development.  That compromise triggered Huber's lawsuit.

"I've got news for  Sierra Club and for Maine DOT: you can't replace nursery  shoals at the mouth of Penobscot River with anything but more shoals at the mouth of Penobscot River." Huber said. "An industrial port on-island  would be as bad for Penobscot Bay's cod and other saltwater fishes as building a new dam below Bangor would be for salmon, sturgeon and other diadromous fishes that rely on nursery habitats upriver. "

Maine's Supreme Judicial Court  found it could no more get a grip on the ecologically and constitutionally sticky issues raised by  the case than the Knox County Superior Court could, he said.

Huber, who was part of the successful fight to thwart Angus King's port plan for the island  said that the ruling leaves the door open for he or other plaintiffs to file a fresh case if Maine DOT does get an applicant to build a port on Sears Island. 

"I have a message for Maine DOT" he said:  "Go ahead....Make My Day."

Offshore Gulf of Maine Birds - Are new studies good news or bad for DeepCwind?

A symposium of bird researchers came together recently to compare and share the results and data mined from ongoing field studies documenting migratory bird movements in the Gulf of Maine.  It was was described in a March 2011  news article The significance of this flocking together of avian eggheads is that it has become clear that many more birds of many more species than suspected  are using Maine's offshore islands like Monhegan to migrate north and south each year. Like this redbellied woodpecker on Monhegan.

Certainly not what the DeepCwind folks wanted to hear. Now we'll see who much they respect the work of these university researchers.

UMaine ornithologist Rebecca Holbertson is quoted in the article “We found the islands had more brush and scrub habitat and a greater number and diversity of birds that we didn’t expect.....We easily, conservatively estimated over half a million birds were coming through the Penobscot Bay area alone. We had no idea of the magnitude of this."

.Image:Black scoters off Monhegan.

 Remember this USFWS Cape Wind bird study excerpt? (the aerial and boat surveys mentioned in it were done by windpower environemental consultants:
"[T]he Cape Wind project aerial and boat surveys resulted in the observation of approximately 210 birds flying at turbine height while the [US Fish and Wildlife Service's] radar surveys conducted for the same project resulted in the tabulation of over 127,697 targets within the proposed rotor swept zone...."

That's what they're discovering up here now.
Will Ocean Windpower developers  find sections of the Gulf of Maine never visited by birds? I can't think what else would be a happy discovery for Dagher and company. One can't help but worry that there aren't many places like that out there.
Stay tuned