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.



AML said...

I miss the bay area they are refreshing. I miss our little home near the bay area before the great storm. Do you know some place with a good bay area to place a vacational home?

Ron Huber said...

Perhaps within one of the bay towns like Searsport.