Feb 17, 2012

Penobscot Bay islands join mainland towns opposing DCP Midstream supertank plan for Searsport

Upper Penobscot Bay is aflame, as town after town rises in opposition to would-be LPG tank operatorDCP Midstream, an appendage of Conoco Phillips and other Big Gas heavyweights that seeks to build the east coast’s biggest Liquified Petroleum Gas tank and dock in tiny but uncooperative Searsport, Maine. (Cont'd below picture.)
Long Cove lowtide clamflats.DCP LPG tank would flatten & pave forest on lower half of picture. US Rt 1 on left

The resistance began with Searsport, whose citizens halted the gas giant’s fast track slide toward rubberstamp approval on municipal and federal levels. They then, banding together as Thanks But No Tank! launched a lawsuit against the state permit  that Maine DEP had granted to DCP Midstream on October 24, 2011.  

But Searsport no longer stands alone against the Denver-based behemoth. The towns of Islesboro, North Haven and Stockton Springs have also risen, with Belfast soon to chime in See recent news story  See Isleboro fact sheet on DCP plan

The growing consensus among these and other upper Penobscot Bay towns is that the 23 million gallon supertank, and its associated flare tower and accessory facilities, would thoroughly and unacceptably dominate, day and night, the economically-precious regional landscape of a dozen coastal towns dependent on scenic tourism, as well as permanently increase the homeland security risk level of the area.

These three towns have made it absolutely clear to the ultimate decisionmaker - the US Army Corps of Engineers - that nothing less than a full Environmental Impact Study of DCP Midstream’s supertank plan and its effects on the region will suffice, before that agency makes its decision.  (The Army Corps is taking comments until February 29th.)

The upper Penobscot bay towns’ concerns include
* Safety and security implications of having a  huge vulnerable liquefied petroleum tank hulking over scenic US Route 1,

*The gargantuan size of DCP’s proposed 23 million gallon liquified petroleum tank, completely out of scale and character with the region including the existing petroleum tank farms.  

 The effect on tourism and quality of life of the tank farm’s deforestation of the Mack Point coastal forest, its chronic stench, its intermittently roaring flare tower & powerful night lights, its constantly running auxiliary generators,  and the continuous dull roar of propane tanker trucks passing in and out of their towns, as they feed 24/7 in and out of the facility.
DCP Midstream has responded to local opposition with a heavyhanded statewide public relations campaign, pitting town against town. The company also sought to divide Searsport’s populace between the town’s two big economic engines: tourism and port. 

But these two business sectors have a lengthy tacit agreement in Searsport not to impact each other’s ability to create wealth, so the gas giant’s efforts appear unpersuasive. If anything they may have brought Searsporters closer together in suspicion of the company’s motives.
Indeed DCP Midstream’s latest newest PR gambit suggests a certain level of panic on the company’s part.   An anonymous harassment campaign attacking key Searsport opponents of the company’s tank plan has arisen.  Nasty insinuations,  personal slurs, race-baiting and worse have been launched against area citizens. While the perpetrator of these libelous productions remains concealed in internet anonymity, it is widely believed from the writer’s grammar and style that a DCP public relations staffer, or  other hireling from “Away”, is the real person behind the fictitious “Jake Prodder” and other anonymous attackers. Area residents plan to consult with Colorado’s human rights and corporate accountability bureaus to see if they can have the offending personages identified and dealt with.

With the feeling growing around upper Penobscot Bay that DCP Midstream is trying to suppress citizen and municipal opposition to its plan, the company’s prospects seem to be dimming. As one critic succinctly put it:

“If that is the playbook this company is using to woo Mainers, they might as well head home to Colorado right now.”

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