Mar 31, 2012

DeepCwind Consortium poised to deploy America's first floating offshore windturbine

There are now two separate offshore windpower proposals off Maine: the DeepCwind Consortium led by the University of Maine, and Hywind-Maine, a project of Norwegian energy giant Statoil. 

Beginning this spring, the island's artifice-free natural scenery off its southern rim at Lobster Cove will be joined for about 5 months a year by an experimental deepwater wind power test center where the 1/3 size prototypes will be tested.

DeepCwind's engineering teams are poised to set out up to three prototype floating windturbines in waters two miles south of America's oldest art colony, the famed painters' isle Monhegan, off Maine's Midcoast. 

The first deployment is not expected to yield any electricity to consumers on Monhegan or elsewhere; its purpose is to test the structural and functional integrity of the floating ocean wind turbines, which is composed of thousands of parts, all of which must work under the stresses and rigors of the Gulf of Maine.

DeepCwind was joined earlier this winter by Norwegian energy giant Statoil, which has declared interest in setting out its own prototype floating deepwater turbine in waters 12 miles northeast of Portland.  

DeepCwind is apparently seeking a site at least 20 miles offshore for deployment of its full sized windturbines.  DeepCwind leader Habib Dagher holds that such distant deployment will markedly reduce the turbines' scenic impact - a concern raised by the state's profitable coastal tourism industry coastal resorts. 

Dagher has also noted that turbines-to-shore cable technology has improved to such an extent that the greater distance from shore will not result in a significant loss of power delivery.  Stay tuned.

Mar 30, 2012

Gov Lepage signs Liquefied Petroleum Gas bill into law

Under the bill  liquefied petroleum gas system operators are not required to keep records for more than one year unless required by federal law.  Gives  LPG operators a 30 day grace period,
 "before the commission issues a formal written notice of probable violation when an evaluation of an operator's records and facilities indicates that the operator is violating the rule or applicable state or federal law"

The Resolve does the following: (actual wording)
1. Removes the definition of "customer";

2. Amends the rule to clarify that a liquefied petroleum gas system operator is any person who owns and engages in the transportation of liquefied petroleum gas through a jurisdictional liquefied petroleum gas system or a person who is contracted to serve as the operator by a person who owns and engages in the transportation of liquefied petroleum gas through a jurisdictional liquefied petroleum gas system;

3. Adds a provision that requires by July 1, 2012 liquefied petroleum gas suppliers to implement modified operation and maintenance procedures that include a "Red Tag" or hazardous equipment procedure for suspending service to a customer and marking the customer's system when a hazardous condition is noted that makes the continued delivery of liquefied petroleum gas unsafe;

4. Amends the rule so that liquefied petroleum gas system operators are not required to keep records for more than one year unless required by federal law;

5. Amends the rule so that liquefied petroleum gas system operators are not required to promote to excavators the "811" and "OK to Dig" notification process;

6. Amends the rule to allow the commission to grant a liquefied petroleum gas system operator 30 days in which to take corrective action before the commission issues a formal written notice of probable violation when an evaluation of an operator's records and facilities indicates that the operator is violating the rule or applicable state or federal law; and

7. Amends the rule by striking provisions related to requirements that apply when snow can be expected to cover any liquefied petroleum gas tank.

Mar 23, 2012

Fox Island Wind Neighbors win key legal skirmish against DEP & FIW

On March 20th, 2012, the Maine Superior Court denied a motion by  Vinalhaven windmill operator Fox Islands Wind LLC, seeking dismissal of  the appeal filed last July by aggrieved neighbors of the 3 turbine windfarm. A major issue of the Fox Islands Wind Neighbors was the chronic & objectionable noise created by the three Vinalhaven turbines (5 minute mp3)

The company claimed that the State Court had no jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the decision made by Commissioner Patty Aho of Maine DEP, who declared in a "Conditions Compliance Order" that the company was in compliance. The company  cited MRSA 35A: 3456
 "....Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department's certification pursuant to this section regarding a development that does not otherwise require the department's approval pursuant to this Title is not itself subject to judicial review as final agency action or otherwise"....

In her decision, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy agreed with FIWN, however, that the Conditions Compliance Order issued by Aho was itself an enforcement action, and was not  the certification itself.  Therefore 35A sec 3456 doesn't apply, and the Court has the right to review the issue.  

Mar 19, 2012

Scallop adv council: 2011 survey shows little increase in Penobscot Bay

 The Maine Scallop Advisory Council met earlier this month. 
DMR's Kevin Kelly summarized the results of the 2011 scallop survey Western Penobscot Bay/Muscongus Bay – density didn’t change a lot, some increase in harvestable scallops
Read the report 

Damariscotta‐/Sheepscot – some increase in harvestable scallops, but highly variable
Casco Bay – not much info from closed area in Casco Bay –  variability but significant increase in harvestable scallops – not the numbers observed Downeast however.   

Scalloper Tom Pottle: "Everyone’s focused on the taking of the scallops, not on the management. If you could stop and figure out a management plan, a strategy for the resource, it’s going to look a lot better a lot quicker than everyone fighting about the taking."

Mar 16, 2012

Open pit metal mining: Maine legislature grapples with last minute bill. AUDIO of hearing and worksession

On March 13th and 14th the Maine legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee has heard and received testimony and emails for or against  LD 1853 "An Act To Improve Environmental Oversight and Streamline Permitting for Mining in Maine"  (See the amended bill of March 14, 2012, introduced by Rep John Martin (pdf) )

LD1853 would rewrite regulationof non-ferrous metal mining, in which  chemicals are used to leach nickel, zinc and copper from  ore, leaving toxic tailings in "capped" waste ponds.  Listen to a  3 minute description of what would happen to the Alder Pond a mining industry expert spoken as a response the committee chair's request
LISTEN 3/13/12 Hearing on Bill 
*. Intro on bill 2min 40seconds
* Commissioner Aho 13 minutes 
.* Aho Q&A 28min 
 * John Martin
* Jim Mitchell  20min
Ted Johnson 2 min 15 seconds
*.Mining experts Butler and   Ingersoll to close of meeting. 15minutes 

3/14/12 Worksession on LD 1853l
1. Introduction to meeting
2. Rep John Martin  bill sponsor 
3. John Martin Q&A   
4. Tom Doyle. Pierce Atwood  Part 1 13min
5. Tom Doyle  Pierce Atwood Part 2 
5. Hanrahan . JD Irving Company 14min
6. Jim Mitchell. 20 minutes
* John Martin on history of Maine mining. 9 minutes


Mar 9, 2012

Towns & people around Penobscot Bay urge Searsporters to vote YES! on Saturday.

Big Gas Project is a Game Changer for Penobscot Bay. 
Penobscot Bay is one of the great natural cornucopias of our world, bringing forth lobsters and more seafood without end, hosting the world's pleasure sailors to race and cruise amid its wild northern beauty, and anchoring the seaward border of the Two Maines.  Searsport can help keep it that way.

Adding industrial development to the narrow end of Penobscot Bay’s horn of plenty must be approached very cautiously. Thus it is no surprise that towns extending half the length of the bay have called for an Environmental Impact Study of the DCP Midstream Liquified Petroleum Gas Tank facility , along with scores of concerned bay area citizens.

Like all river-powered bays, Penobscot Bay sports a brackish water zone where the Penobscot River and Gulf of Maine meet. Neither wholly fresh nor wholly salt, this transition zone is where sturgeon, eels, alewives and salmon transform from freshwater to saltwater-breathers, and vice versa.

Here also, great clouds of montagui and crangion shrimps, lesser cousins of our wintertime delicacy, and other zooplankton arise, providing a merry feast for the bay’s young cod, haddock, pollock, hake, and flounder that fatten up in these rich warm shallows, before working their way down the bay to the waiting fishermen 

It’s a hardworking natural ecosystem, the upper Bay. Taking everything good, bad and ugly that the river pitches downstream and the Gulf of Maine sneaks up the bay  in the deep channels between Islesboro Island and the shores of both Maines. 

But since the 1960s, real gains have been made reducing the polluting of Penobscot Bay and her tributary. The smartest businesses and municipalities, even big energy companies like Irving and Sprague Energy figured out that a healthy Penobscot Bay, was in everyone's interests - including their customers. 

Even big energy concerns like Irving Oil and Sprague Energy bowed to the ecological economic imperative, respecting the profitable tourism businesses of Searsport and other bay towns by limiting the size of their gasoline, kerosene and heating oil tankfarms and placing them well below the tourism-drawing horizon filled with forested mountains.  As a result nine out of ten passing tourists would be astonished to learn Maine’s second largest tank farm was nestled invisibly into the wooded slopes beneath them as they spend their way along Route 1.

Now comes DCP Midstream, which has identified Searsport as a likely spot for setting up a propane import and distribution facility.

DCP holds that it will bring economic growth to Searsport, but it doesn’t want to look at the environmental and economic consequences of that growth.  Contrast that to DeepCwind Consortium which has spent years working with stakeholders before finally getting the collective go ahead to put a prototype wind turbine off of Monhegan Island - another place with irreplaceable world class scenic assets.

Instead DCP’s hired experts sneer at the upper Penobscot Bay viewsheds. They scoff at the ecological value of the forested wetlands perched above Long Cove that they propose to pave over, and shrug at the safety concerns of the upper bay citizenry. This may be because they are outsiders, unlike DeepCwind's  mix of the best of Maine companies and academia: Cianbro, BIW, James T. Sewall Company, Reed and Reed, University of Maine, Maritime Academy and many more local entities.

DCP’s parent company Conoco Phillips made a fool of itself a few years back trying to force its way into Harpswell to set up a Liquified Natural Gas tank and terminal, only to be smacked down by the fishermen and other citizens of that Casco Bay town, who didn’t want to okay the game-changing industrialization that DCP’s parent would have brought bring to upper Casco Bay communities. But the company seems not to have learned from its Harpswell debacle. 

Rather than get off on the right footing by sitting down with the fishermen, resorts, hoteliers, guides and other business owners of Searsport and greater Penobscot Bay, it is trying its best to bypass them. Does DCP fear that a hard look at the long term effects of siting their LPG tank in upper Penobscot Bay will reveal too many inconvenient truths about their operation’s offsite impacts? It certainly seems that way. 

This gives even greater impetus to the need to first, gain a brief moratorium on the company’s municipal efforts, and second, have the US Army Corps of Engineers order an environmental impact study of DCP’s plan and at least one public hearing.There,  Penobscot Bay citizens, businesses and communities can bring their various unique viewpoints and concerns to the Corps’ attention. DCP too will have an opoportunity to make its case.

Smart companies realize a healthy Penobscot River and Bay is in everyone's interest - including their customers.  But at this point DCP Midstream is sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap and little else, and bragging about their splendid appearance.

It doesn’t take a child to see that this Energy Emperor is wearing no clothes.


Mar 8, 2012

Maine Aquaculture Association's Sebastian Belle at ME Fishermen's Forum

Listen to Maine Aquaculture Association head Sebastian Belle.  I interviewed him at the Maine Fishermen's Forum on March 2nd, 2012.  

Here's a 7 minute mp3 recording of  his take on the state of Aquaculture in Maine, past, present and future.

 Sorry about the background noise; a lot of enthusiastic fish-folk were there in the halls of the Samoset.

Mar 4, 2012

Windpower seminar at 2012 Maine Fishermen's Forum. Listen to groundfishers, lobstermen, tuna men, grill Statoil rep, academics, and govt officials

2012 Fishermen's Forum: offshore wind gets chilly reception.
Listen below to two panels and a room full of fishermen and others discussing both the Statoil proposal and the greater impacts of the additional offshore Gulf of Maine windfarms that would follow in Statoil's wake, (more than a thousand turbines projected).
 Note 1: static from nearby I Pads often jammed the digital audio recorder with overwhelming static, forcing editing out of  parts of several speakers including Glenn Libby and Pete Jumars. Note 2: If anyone is misidentified, please leave a comment to that effect and it will be corrected

*  Darryl Francois BOEM opening statement 11min.mp3

* Ken Fletcher Governor's office of energy independence_51sec

Kari Hege Mork Statoil 26sec

 * Rick Bellance Rhode Island fisherman 10sec

Pete Jumars UMaine 41sec

John Weber, NROC 1min 48sec

* Paul Willliamson Me Wind Industry Initiative 75 sec

* Kari Hege Mork Statoi introduces video 2min 42sec

 *John Weber NROC 20sec.mp3


* Q: Richard Melton  Friendship Lobster Bait  1min44sec

QA2 Geo Lapointe and Kari Hege Mork 3min 28sec

'* QA 3 audience 5min_45sec

*QA 4 Kari Hege Mork Windpark size 1 minute

* QA 5 Pete Jumars Edited due to noise

QA6 Paul Anderson edited 7min

QA 7. 4min_30sec

QA 8 Glenn Libby edited 1min 30sec

QA 9 1min_55sec

QA 10 Kari Hege Mork 1min26sec

QA 11 4min_30sec

QA 12 Ron Huber 3min 43sec

QA 13 Ken Fletcher others on showstoppers 4min 55sec

QA 14 Small biz admin 1 min

QA 15_final words


Keliher comments 2min

*  Bruce MacDonald intro fishpanel_2min_45sec

Breakout Groups Introduction 47sec

* Chris Weiner, Portland tuna fisherman. 6min 9sec

* Breakout Group 2. Patrice MLA 3min 50sec

Breakout Group 3 Bruce MacDonald 55sec

Breakout group 4 Mary Beth Tooley, 1min_32sec

Breakout Group 5 Cushman 1min 11sec.mp3

 PART 3 COMPLETE 57 MINUTES (above is only 1/3 of Part 3)

Mar 1, 2012

Maine Legislature considers elver fishery and shrimp dealers

Shrimp & Elver Salad
On March 1st the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee, Led by Committee chair Lois Snow-Mello,  with DMR Commissioner Pat Keliher, held  a worksession on  LD 1765  An Act To Sustain the Elver Fishery, (Elvers are baby eels, entering freshwater for the first time).

The Committee also discussed what to do about shrimp dealers who misreport the catch Fines? Suspensions?

* Listen to the 15 minute committee discussion of the elver fishery bill

*Listen to the  6 minute discussion on whether sanctions  should be imposed on shrimp dealers who don't report honestly

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Sears Island Container Port Bond Bill killed by Maine Legislature

Click here to listen to the Maine legislature vote on  February 29, 2012,  to kill LD 420 "An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Fund Building a Container Port on Sears Island"  and  three other transportation  bond proposals.  (A 90 second recording)

LD 420 would've put a ballot question before Mainers to have their descendants pay 200 million dollars plus interest to build a gigantic containerport now . This to be leased to non-existent containerport wannabees. The legislature's Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee just said No.