Feb 26, 2012

Why threaten midcoast Maine for just 12 jobs?

Why threaten midcoast Maine for just 12 jobs?                                      
By Kim Tucker, Special to the Bangor Daily News

Why should we jeopardize our safety, our security, our environment, our quality of life, every existing job and the marketability and value of every property in midcoast Maine so that we can possibly add 12 permanent jobs in Searsport? Especially when these 12 jobs will likely go to people from out of state?

The very purpose of the proposed Mack Point liquefied petroleum gas tank and import terminal — to import more liquefied petroleum from foreign countries for use as a fuel to heat Maine homes and businesses — is contrary to the security interests of Maine and the United States in two ways.

First, it creates an attractive target for a terrorist attack without any discernible security plan provided by the developer, DCP Midstream — meaning they either are not providing adequate security or they are imposing the burden of that security on taxpayers without advising them of that hidden cost.

Second, this facility proposes to make Mainers more dependent on foreign sources for our heating needs — DCP’s goal is contrary to our interests as a state and as a nation to become more secure through energy independence. Since less than 6 percent of Maine homes and businesses currently rely on propane for heat, why do we need a facility to import foreign propane — liquefied petroleum gas — from unstable regions and countries, and make more Mainers dependent on foreign sources to heat their homes and businesses?

On March 10, Searsport residents will have an opportunity to approve a moratorium and slow this process down. If approved, the moratorium will allow Searsport the time to ask the proper questions about the costs and benefits of this facility — questions that should have been asked by state regulators before permits were issued to allow such a fundamental change for Searsport and all of Penobscot Bay.

The 9/11 tragedy should have taught us that the risk of terrorist attacks must be a consideration when any facility such as the one proposed for Mack Point is proposed. A recent congressional report on siting liquefied natural gas, or LNG, import terminals, similar to the LPG facility DCP proposes in Searsport, detailed the significant terrorist risk posed to public safety and security by such facilities and highlighted terrorism as a necessary consideration in making decisions about where to place such facilities.

That report noted that LNG tankers and land-based facilities could be vulnerable to terrorism. Tankers might be physically attacked in a variety of ways to release their cargo — or commandeered for use as weapons against coastal targets. LNG terminal facilities might also be physically attacked with explosives or through other means. Some LNG facilities may also be indirectly disrupted by cyber-attacks or attacks on regional electricity grids and communications networks that could in turn affect dependent LNG control and safety systems.

Incomprehensibly, despite the heightened terrorist threats we currently face from Iran and other sources, Congress has not vested any federal agency with specific jurisdiction over evaluating the security implications in siting LPG import terminals of the sort DCP is proposing to put in Searsport. Such determinations have been left to state regulators.

Unfortunately, Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho, a former lobbyist for the Petroleum Institute, did not see fit to include any consideration of the public safety and security threats posed by this facility when she did her cursory evaluation of this project and rubber stamped it for approval. Now, it is up to Searsport residents to demand the time to make a proper assessment of the real costs of the limited benefits DCP is offering.

Please, speak up and tell Searsport residents that we need them to pass the moratorium and take the time to do a proper study of the real costs and benefits of this proposal and tell Augusta that we do not want to be the next man-made disaster in this country.
Feb 24, 2012

Kim Ervin Tucker of Islesboro is a lawyer admitted to practice law in Maine, Florida and the District of Columbia. Since May 10, 2010, she has assisted the Deepwater Horizon Legal Advisory Group, appointed by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida attorney general and is currently assisting Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in his efforts to get BP to honor its promise to pay all legitimate claims to those damaged as a result of the spill.

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