Dec 14, 2011

Maine foes of Colorado-based DCP Midstream's supertank plan appeal to top federal brass.

Searsport. Angry residents of the bayside town of Searsport, Maine, and neighboring towns, along with a variety of citizens' groups, are reacting sharply to word that the officials of the US Army Corps of Engineers in that agency's Maine state projects office are poised to conclude that no environmental review is needed of DCP Midstream company's controversial plan to site the East coast's biggest Liquified Petroleum Gas storage "supertank" in their town, overlooking scenic Penobscot Bay.  They Are reaching out to Army Corps Headquarters, damanding an impartial wetlands review of the soggy  coastal forest that the company proposes to take a 30 acre bite out of.

The project has already received a state permit which is being appealed in Maine Superior Court by area citizens including a grassroots organization  Thanks But No Tank! that has sprung up in defense of the scenic and economically successful balance of industry and world class scenery-powered tourism, sailing and lobstering  that Penobscot Bay is renowned for.

But mindful of the looming  Army Corps of Engineers decision, to be inked this week  by Maine Proects office reviewer Jay Clement, on whether to award DCP a "General Permit" or mandate a more sweeping  review under federal wetlands rules and law sokaying a  federal permits that DCP Midstream must also seek, critics are reaching out to the leaders of the US Army  Corps of Engineers' civil works program, including:

* Jo-Ellen Darcy, Asst Secretary of the Army Civil Works,
* Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works for the agency,
* Michael Ensch, Chief of Operations for Civil Works,
* Meg Gaffney-Smith. Chief, of the  Corps' Regulatory Branch, and
* Colonel Charles P. Samaris, Commander and District Engineer for New England

AT ISSUE is the looming decision by the Corps of Engineers' Maine projects' reviewer Jay Clement, to declare that out of the more than 20 acres of wetlands filling the 30 acre coastal forest that DCP would clear and pave, only 2 and 3/4 acres are  "jurisdictional" wetlands.  Yet a review  by a third party suggests that far more acres of the site's wetlands meet the standard than DCP Midstream's hired wetlands consultant claims.

This has raised suspicions among area residents familiar with the threatened coastal forest, because DCP's project must affect at least three acres of wetlands before a federal law requiring a strict environmental study of the Liquified Petroleum gas facility proposal would be triggered.

DCP Midstream would prefer not to have to go through  the lengthy process required, but Maine citizens disagree.

"The soil report on the DCP Midstream application surprisingly found few areas of wetland", said Joelle Madiec a member of Thanks But No Tank! a grassroots citizens group that recently filed a lawsuit in Maine Superior Court challenging the Maine Department of Environmental Protection permit for the DCP Midstream proposal.

 "These results should not be taken for granted" Madiec wrote to the Armc Corps of Engineers officials, requesting that " before the project is given the green light, a peer review and second study should be conducted by an independent party"

"We want a recount." said Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch.  "We think DCP's wetlands consultant was far too conservative in his evaluation of the site. Many areas of equal wetness and connectivity to the bay were passed over, including some wetlands deep enough that  the consultant's 4 wheel drive vehicle got stuck as he drove though the threatened forest.  But they don't show up on his "official" wetlands map."  (see attached photo)

Huber noted that the state's wetlands consultant drastically undercounted the acreage of wetlands on nearby Sears Island, when a terminal was proposed there during the Mckernan and King administratinos. Once found out, the consultant was disbarred from applying for any future state wetlands study contracts..

"We don't know yet if that is what is happening here." said Huber, who said he wouldn't be surprised. "The area does have that history." he said, adding that he hopes that the Army Corps of Engineers leadership responds to the  complaints from Maine citizens  and looks into the wetlands issue.

"Every year there are fewer coastal forests in Maine" Huber said. They and their related wetlands are irreplaceable ecologically. They must be conserved. We wish that DCP Midstream and the Army Corps of Engineers would "get" that.".

Astrig Tanguay, a Searsport camping resort operator and a founder of TNBT! wrote to the Army Corps' top officials that she "is sensitive to the political and organizational constraints that you are operating under; however, please understand that we, the concerned citizens of Searsport need our federal government to even the playing field."

Another major issue that Penobscot Bay area citizens wish DCP  Midstream would pay attention to: Scenic viewshed pollution by land and sea is a.
The outsized Liquified Petroleum Gas tank, the critics say, would loom as a sudden 24/7 eyesore in a dozen scenic tourism-powered towns around the top of Maine's Penobscot Bay, and intrude into the viewsheds of such distant landmarks as Mount Katahdin in central Maine and  Acadia National Park's Cadillac Mountain to the east.

In addition DCP's LPG  tankers and their armed escorts will be regularly plying Penobscot Bay, reknowned as New England's top sailing waters, requiring much more than the normal "rules of the the road" 

Windjammers plying these waters worry about the company moving security zone rolling up and down Penobscot Bay. To protect the LPG tankers from potential terror threats, all lobsterboats, sailboats and other non government craft in the path of the LPG tankers travelling up the often  narrow Penobscot Bay will have to return to their harbors while DCP's vessels and their gunboats pass. 

Critics note that an existing industrial shore like South Portland with its large tank farms, is more appropriatefor DCP's plan than scenic Searsport.      

Recent coverage of DCP Midstream controversy in Maine, by Bangor Daily News
( includes 1 Denver Post column)

December 8, 2011 Opponents of 14-story tank in Searsport force vote on whether to stall project

December 4, 2011 Searsport to consider moratorium petition from propane tank opponents

November 19, 2011 Propane tank protest draws more than 100 in Searsport 

November 7, 2011 Denver's DCP learns that in Maine when proposing new tanks size matters (Denver Post)

November 1, 2011 Opponents of 138-foot-tall propane tank in Searsport to hold meetings

September 28, 2011 Opposition growing to 137-foot-tall propane tank in Searsport

March 3, 2011 Denver company tries to sell Searsport on a proposed propane terminal

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1 comment:

Anandengineers said...

This has raised suspicions among area residents familiar with the threatened coastal forest. Gas Pipeline Delhi