Jan 31, 2013

CRABS TERRORIZING MAINE COAST. So long, Maine mussel mats!

The little crab that would rule the Maine coast
Listen below to dramatic testimony before the Marine Resources Committee January 31, 2013 from longtime clammer/shellfish leader Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers Association and a member of Friends of the Clammers.

Maine Clammers Association presentation & Q&A, by Chad Coffin   
Complete presentation and Q&A 36 minutes 36 seconds
Broken into sections:
Part 1  4min 30sec   Part 2 4min 56sec    Part 3 5min 15sec    Part 4 6min 27sec    Part 5 5min 28sec   Part 6 5min 40sec  

Highlights of Coffin's presentation:

We are in big trouble, 
Chad warned the legislators, The clams and mussels of the lower intertidal shores and the fishes of the shallow subtidal waters of Maine are vanishing. 

200 square miles of mussel beds have vanished from the intertidal Maine coast. These 6" thick mussel mats with up to 16,000 mussels per square foot, were a mainstay of the Eider ducks, which too are vanishing from our environment, along with many other organisms.  

Almost all of this, Chad Coffin told the legislators, is thanks to one small animal -  the European Green Crab, aka Carcinus Maenas. It has been around Maine since the late 19th century, but became  a serious clam predator in the 1950s. 

IN THE LAST TEN YEARS the green crab population has risen exponentially.  According to Coffin, they are eating Maine's intertidal and coastal shallows empty of all other lifeThe crabs eat the eggs of mummichogs and silversides and other small fish. They eat juvenile lobsters.  They out compete juvenile lobsters 63 out of 65 times for food and shelter. Carcinus Maenas  larvae eat zooplankton that are the food of mussel & clam larvae and adults. Older green crabs eat young mussels and clams themselves. Casco Bay has lost its mussels from its shallows and intertidal zone and a has experie3nced99.9 percent drop in clam spat settlment

At the close of Coffin's testimony, a legislator remarked sourly that Chad will soon have to deal with two more aggressive invaders: chinese mitten crabs and Asian Shore Crabs

What is to be done? Chad's not sure, beyond: see a green crab? Kill it!

Jan 19, 2013

Searsport Planning Board's DCP Midstream tank hearing January 18, 2013 AUDIO RECORDINGS

Listen to the speakers at the January 18, 2013 Searsport town public hearing on the controversial DCP Midstream megatank proposal for Mack Point.. Earlier Hearings Nov 2012

DCP atty Kilbreth tried and failed to get the Clarke Report rejected by the planning board. The board then heard from DCP's real estate expert Norman Gosline, who was vigorously questioned by attys for the people Ed Bearor and Steve Hinchman (gesturing in photo).
Then DCP's regional director David Graham spoke and was questioned.** DCP atty Kilbreth then posed questions from the people to the DCP experts. More to come....

Introduction by Probert. Motion by DCP to exclude Clarke study 13min 28sec

Norman Gosline retired real estate appraiser 26min 49sec

Ed Bearor questions Gosline. 7min 33 sec

Steve Hinchman questions Gosline 1. 7min 30sec

Steve Hinchman questions Gosline 2. 6min 33sec

Steve Hinchman questions Gosline 3. 5min 30sec

David Italiaander 5min 10sec

DCP  David Graham 9min 14sec

DCP attys James Kilbreth & Kelly Boden
Kilbreth QA 1 6min

(No QA 2)

Kilbreth QA 3  Generator onsite issue 3min 5 sec

Kilbreth QA 4. Flare issue. 12 minutes

Kilbreth QA 5 Sump issue. 3min 28sec

Kilbreth QA 6 7min21sec

 KIlbreth QA 7. 7min46sec

Kilbreth QA 8. Killbreth & Graham. 5min 55sec

Graham QA 9 Security 4min33secd

Graham QA 10 Control Room 11min11sec

Graham QA 11. 3minutes 4 seconds

Meredith Ayres QA 12   4min 39

Kilbreth QA 13   10min44sec

Italiaander QA 14 5min51sec

 Probert opens public session 1minute

Abby MacMillan 8min 24 sec

 Kilbreth complains about Good Harbor Report 34 sec

AJ Koch  & Shawn Murphy 2min38 sec

Leslie Harl to meeting end 2min 25sec

(Becky Bartovics off North Haven then asked to speak but was turned down as meeting was officially ended)

Jan 18, 2013

Searsport vs DCP. Round 2 of public hearing begins.

Following wednesday's storm-blocked  event, The public hearing on the DCP Midstream gigtank plan for upper Penobscot Bay went forward on Thursday.

The People spoke. The People presented. The Planning Board questioned and discussed. The New York Times was in attendance tonight, complete with photographer  The two were given much juicy background info,  internet links and, naming names.  Bangor Daily News put a story out about the hearing.

Residents of Cape Jellison/Stockton Springs gave presentations, as did realtors about declining sales and home values, Senior Citizens and their concerns, Friends of Sears Island and a loooooong discourse between Buddy Hall's appraiser and DCP's lawyers (Hall is owner of restaurant and motel abutting  DCP's proposed tank site)

One important event was Searsport resident Dave Italiaander's  presentation click here (pdf) showing that the company must be  misrepresenting itself to the people of Maine, because DCP exports LPG gas. It doesn't import it.   According to Italiaander:

"LPG imports are virtually non-existent, except  from Canada. There are no water borne imports. 

"LPG and Propane prices 
are falling. 

"Propane prices are near 10 year low.

"DCP told their investors that they are going to increase their LPG exports by 200 to 250 thousand barrels a day" Italiaander told the board.

"That is almost 8 million tons of additional exports a year, or 175 large, ocean-­-going LPG Tankers.  Their proposed Searsport mega-tank would hold around 43,000 Metric tons; a large LPG tanker holds around 45,000MT.  DCP needs 5 new terminals the size of this one just to handle their new exports"

Army Corps of Engineers washes hands of responsibility Italiaander said he spoke to the Army Corps of Engineers and to town officials about the project.
"Once this terminal is built" he told the board,  "the Corps would have no jurisdiction nor review if the applicant wanted to export rather than import.  
"Neither would the  Town of Searsport. It seems that it would require no more than a notification to the DEP and Coast Guard."

"I hope that it is now clear," Italiaander told the Searsport Planning Board,  "that it is a virtual impossibility that this is an import terminal and a virtual certainty that it is an export terminal."

This company exports propane, it does not import it."


Jan 16, 2013

DCP: Will they or Won't they? WERU will let you know Friday eve

Listen Friday to WERU Community Radio , as the word comes down about what the town of Searsport has decided about Big Gas megatank proposal of DCP Midstream's. Listen to Big Tank" parody song
 Jan18th 4pm eastern time, 2pm Mountain Time to WERU Community Radio  Special Report  on DCP hearing.  Here  is  the station's  live stream

Listen to the earlier hearings on on the DCP plan for big tank in  Searport.

WERU News director Amy Browne will recap the DCP gasser-wannabee's  two evenings of public hearings on their 22 million gallon LPG megatank plan,  and run excerpts of the  gassers, their hired hands, the people's responses, and the deliberations of the Searsport town planning board. And whatever shenanigans DCP shills or  homie security types get into, if any. Finally, what the decisionmakers, in fact, decide: 

* Will Coloradan Gasbaggers expand from their bay area outposts, and start slashing and blasting the Mack Point Woods; begin insinuating gas colonies among us, at the narrow end of the ecological cornucopia we call Penobscot Bay .

* Will  the whole gassy nightmare dissipate under the stern light of downeast wisdom? Will crows, gulls and hawks continue mingling with wild fourleggers, six leggers, eight leggers and no leggers, below the canopy and above the broad
beaches and tide flats on the southern shore of Long Cove?

Jan 14, 2013

Good Harbor Report on DCP's megatank plan comes out!

NEW! Good Harbor Report on DCP's megatank plan comes out!
Dramatic recent changes in global energy prices buttress environment and safety elements of the  no-build scenario.  MEDIA COVERAGE  Maine Things Considered MPBN  

Key Findings:

·       An independent blast analysis, which found that under a variety of accident scenarios, an explosion or leak at the terminal would cause lethal and devastating impacts to nearby homes and businesses, and to travelers on Route One;  

·       The lack of a cost sharing plan, which would transfer significant project costs from the LPG developer to local communities;

·       Gaps in current regulations, which leave citizens and businesses unprotected; and

·       Insufficient depths in the Searsport harbor and at the existing pier, which will require expensive and environmentally damaging dredging before ocean going LPG ships can safely access the port.

Clarke also cautioned regulators to look carefully at dramatic recent changes in global energy prices, which are leading industry to convert import terminals into export facilities.

Jan 13, 2013

Maine Lobsters visit DCP Midstream headquarters in Downtown Denver.

Coloradans spoke out Saturday out in downtown Denver in the plaza before DCP Midstream's 25th floor headquarters in the Republic Plaza skyscraper..  
 Click Here for photogalleries of these Lobsters at the DCP HQ and elsewhere in Denver.  beseeching DCP Midstream's new leader Wouter van Kempen to drop the company's  controversial plan to build the east coast's biggest LPG gas tank in this scenic backwater, heart of the Maine lobsterfishing industry
Their crimson colors ("we're steamed!" t'was muttered) stood out nicely from on high. About this issue: here and here  

Jan 11, 2013

Colorado capital besieged by giant lobsters over mega gas tank flap

For immediate release 

Ron Huber Penobscot Bay Watch 207-593-2744

On Saturday at noon, a crustacean delegation "steamed" by Denver firm's megatank plan for "Nation's lobster basket" will bring its protest to  DCP Midstream Headquarters.

Denver  A coterie of angry human-sized lobsters has been making the rounds of the Colorado's state capital, massing in preparation for a demonstration January 12th Saturday at  noon outside the headquarters of gas giant DCP Midstream, in front of the Republic Plaza Building.   These follow recent protests in Maine  See media coverage here and here  More details here and here  and here.

The lobsters, dispatched by a Maine fishery conservation group, are calling on Wouter van Kempen, the new  President and CEO of DCP Midstream, to disavow his predecessor Tom O'Connor's "DCP Searsport" plan to install  a 22 and a half million gallon megatank on the shore of Penobscot Bay, to import Liquified Petroleum gas.

"Penobscot Bay is America's  Lobster Basket" said Ron Huber executive director of Penobscot Bay Watch, who organized the crustacean delegation from Maine.

 "That's because we've got clean waters and one of the world's most carefully managed, most self-policed fisheries," he said.  "We are also blessed by a landscape of such scenic magnificence that more than a million visitors pour up and down US Route 1 along the western bay coast to camp, to hike, to sightsee, to  fish, hunt and ski, shedding millions of dollars into the decentralized local economies as they do so.

"But DCP could be the straw that finally breaks the lobsters' back," Huber said. "And degrades the  scenic assets of the upper bay with its monstrous, outsized gas dome plan.
Lobster Power!
He noted that the company proposes to  flatten an irreplaceable coastal forest on the shore of Long Cove in Searsport, Maine to build its operation. While the natural  runoff of that forest nurtures upper Penobscot Bay, Huber said, the petroleum tainted stormwater from  DCP's  proposed twenty acres of impervious tank and terminal surfaces  would do just the opposite.

"Every little bit hurts"  said Huber.   "Some of the most important animals in our bay can swim through the eye of a needle. It doesn't take much pollution to kill them, and yet because they are the babyfood for the cod, scallops mussels and lobsters of our bay, when they die, so do those bigger animals."

He said that waste discharges from the industrial  facilities DCP's mammoth tank could attract to the upper bay  to exploit its gas, would set efforts back for decades.

"We've been fighting hard to clean up the bay" Huber said. The seafood business is showing it the rise of the scenic and creative economies here show it. DCP's tank farm would  taint the bay and foul the view-shed for more than a dozen scenic tourism dependent  towns."
Inline image 4The lobsters and their defenders find the economics to be the most puzzling part of DCP's plan for their bay.  The gas that DCP would import will cost consumers about a dollar a gallon more than the domestic and Canadian natural gas that Mainers are laready awash in.

"There's no market!" Huber said.  Maybe five years ago when little Searsport somehow caught Tom O'Connors' eye.
But that time is gone, and Tom is gone.Time for the DCP Searsport plan to be gone, too."


Special thanks to Tina Braxton,  Colorado facilitator for the event!

Penobscot Bay Watch
"People who Care About Maine's Biggest Bay"

Jan 7, 2013

Activists Form Circle to Create Monster DCP Tank Footprint in Snow

Activists Form Circle to Create 
                    Monster DCP Tank Footprint in Snow

Peter Taber*
Wild Maine Times 1/6/13

SEARSPORT -- Nearly 200 people from as far away as Gorham and Mount Desert Island showed up at Searsport's Mosman Park Saturday afternoon to take part in a regional educational exercise calculated to demonstrate the vast footprint that would be covered by a mammoth refrigerated tank for liquefied propane the Denver firm of DCP Midstream LLC has been openly fighting to build at nearby Mack Point for more than two years.

Inline image 4
Speakers at the open air forum  that followed included  two of Belfast's former poet laureates, Elizabeth Garber and Karin Spitfire, who spoke their verse created for this occasion.  

TV News Coverage
Penobscot Bay Watch Ron Huber announced the  recent fall from grace of DCP Midstream's combined CEO, President and Chairman Tom O'Connor and his replacement from within the company ranks as a hopeful sign. He spoke on the rise of  sympathetic opposition to the Megatank plan in DCP's Denver hometown by activists fighting Big Gas 's frack attack on Colorado, and expressed hope the change in DCP leadership would bring a reconsideration of its Searsport Megatank proposal.

Fifth generation Searsporter Harlan McLaughlin held forth on the need to resist, to prevent blots on the landscape and rips in the social fabric.

Singer-songwriters  Emilia Dahlen of Gorham  and George Skala of Stockton Springs and led the gathering in renditions of their creations, respectively, "Circle Round, Circle Round"  and "Stand and Deliver".
Inline image 3
Reflecting the regional nature of concern the proposed mega-tank project has aroused,  participants at Saturday's Searsport event came from Belfast, Castine, Freedom, Penobscott, Eddington, Frankfort, Morrill, Lincolnville, Northporth, Stockton Springs, Fryeburg, Swanville, Surrey, Orland, MDI, Deer Isle, Bucksport, Liberty, Searsmont, Camden, Monroe, Brooks, Knox and Waldoboro.

Standing under cold but sunny skies, participants from throughout the Penobscot Bay region and beyond joined hands and spread out evenly for more than 635 feet along the circumference of a circular depression cut the previous day in the snow at the shoreside public park. Their effort was to mark with their combined bodies the full extent of the outer walls of the tank DCP is striving against mounting opposition to erect just to the east at Mack Point near Route 1 homes and businesses and GAC, Inc., the largest chemical plant in Maine.
Inline image 1
Were it to be built, the mega-tank would be more than 200 feet in diameter, rise the height of a 14-story building and contain nearly 23 million gallons of propane maintained in its liquefied state only through a large and sophisticated refrigeration plant entirely dependent upon the power grid. It would be part of a terminal complex that would involve clearcutting some 25 acres of woodland and the construction of a mile-long cryogenic pipeline. The mega-tank itself would be the largest such structure in North America and possibly in the world.

"This is not 'just another tank' as the folks at DCP want us to believe," Harlan McLaughlin of Searsport, one of the speakers at Saturday's event, asserted. He pointed out that it would be almost three times higher than the largest conventional petroleum products tank in the tank farm complex at Mack Point and would have more than seven times the capacity. 
He and other participants also expressed fear that if built the mega-tank would be an unsightly blot on the landscape with the potential for catastrophic accident as well as being a particularly vulnerable and tempting target for terrorists. These negative factors combined, they said, would not only threaten the security of area residents but also drive down property values and deal a devastating blow to tourism, which is the economic lifeblood of the region.    

Critics of the project also reject DCP's claim the mammoth tank and associated marine terminal is necessary for Maine's energy independence. They cite the fact that less than one household in 20 uses propane as a primary heating fuel and that number has long been dwindling. Further, they doubt it would be an import facility, as the Denver company fronting for fossil fuel giants Duke Energy and Phillips 66 claims. Rather, they see the $50 million project as much more likely intended for export of the glut of domestic propane that has been realized in the past half dozen years as a result of new fracking and horizontal boring technology. They note that propane is currently selling in Europe for a dollar more a gallon than domestically.

McLaughlin remarked on the reason for the exercise, namely to demonstrate viscerally to all those looking on just how large the mega-tank would be. "There's no other real way to conceive of the hugeness of this monster," he said.

"I'm a hands-on kind of guy," McLaughlin added, gazing across the expanse of snow to distant participants on the other side. "I can read all these figures about this thing being 138 feet high and 202 feet wide but it doesn't really make sense how damn big it is until I can see it all marked out in the real world. That's no doubt why DCP keeps refusing to honor its promise to at least provide us with a 3D scale model. They say that's beyond their capability -- if you can believe that."

"I can't believe that at all," an obviously disgusted Peter Wilkinson of Belfast, one of the event organizers, rejoined. "They gave us a couple of dots on a four-foot projector screen to show us what this behemoth would look like and they said something about needing a lot of computer memory to adequately represent it on a computer. They've consistently under-represented this. Of course they could have done what we did -- anyone could have -- and it cost almost nothing. A pail of wooden stakes, a can of spray paint and a surveyor's tape -- well, I already had that last one. Of course, marking it out in Mosman Park like we did and letting people look at that was the last thing in the world they wanted to do."

Saturday's event was a reprise for Wilkinson and partner Maryjean Crowe, who organized a similar event on 48 hours short notice in Belfas
t on
Nov. 18th that drew some 250 people to form a massive tank-sized circle.

Members of Searsport's board of selectmen, its town manager and state representative and other municipal officials, as well as its planning board, which will resume permit hearings on DCP's application Wednesday, Jan. 16, were provided with written invitations to attend Saturday's educational event. There were no reports that any of them in fact did so

* Ron Huber edited this release by Peter Taber, post publication.

Wild Maine Times
Peter Taber, publisher
Searsport, Maine 04974

Jan 6, 2013

DCP's boss gets the boot. Will the new leader finally pull the Searsport megatank plan?

Environmentalists and bay area tourism industry hope new boss isn't same as the old boss.

SEARSPORT. "Wouter van Kempen!" the amplified voice rang out across Searsport Harbor to the unbroken forest ridgeline of the Mack Point Wood  "Hear us, Wouter!"  Searsport's Maine's Circle of Resistance, hundreds strong,  stood in snowy Mosman Park, listening.

For 44 year old Wouter van Kempen is the new boss of DCP Midstream. Formerly leading DCP's Gathering and Processing division, and former Chief Development Officer of the Combined Enterprise,  Wouter graduated from Erasmus University in Rotterdam with a master's in business economics, has dual Dutch /US citizenship,and resides in Denver.

Tom O'Connor, driving force behind the company's hapless effort to force an unprofitable giant liquified petroleum gas tank onto Searsport, has been packed off to his estate in Evergreen, with Van Houten assuming the company's CEO and Presidency. "Effective Immediately". 

 Now van Kempen must clean up the mess Tom left behind before his precipitous fall from grace.

The circle of hundreds,  who gathered at Mosman Park  to show their opposition to DCP's  megatank plan, listened as Penobscot Baywatch Ron Huber took his turn speaking to the assembled sending his words out to the new company chieftain., laying out a scenario for Wouter van Kempen:
Wouter, can you hear us? Save us from O'Connor's Folly!

" Wouter, you can make a new beginning by disavowing your predecessor's outdated, wrongheaded Searsport LPG megatank plan.

" You can drop Mad Tom's proposed Tank to Nowhere, bloody nosed-even in  its application stage, leaking cash by the bushel basket in a fierce struggle between DCP's  lawyers and those of the east coast ruling classes, who for generations have made this bay and its islands and piney shores their home.  Would you tankify Estes Park? Here neither!

Ejection seat. Tom O'Connor has left the building.
Why?  Because if the project, presently raging back and forth through state and federal courts and the offices of state and federal elected politicians, were ever built, it promises investors tens of millions in losses each year. Not profits!

The long and short of it? The price of domestic gas has plummeted so far below that of imported gas that the tank plan is outmoded. O'Connor's Folly is DOA.

"Wouter Van Kempen, you can spare your company  much cost and embarrassment, and spare yourself from shunning by the New England aristocracy! Simply withdraw the Searsport project for "reconsideration due to changes in domestic gas availability" or some other bit of politesse.
"Penobscot Bay's  lobstermen  and resort businesses will bless you, Wouter van Kempen.

"Finally, Van Kempen, pay off the wergild, the blood debt DCP has accrued by the dastardly community-dividing actions of O'Connor's public relations chief Roz Eliot.  Eliot's cruel and cynical tactics will divide Searporters  for generations, and have made DCP into a four letter word on the Maine coast.

Mack Point Wood left side of photo. Mack Pt Port on right
"Redeem your company's good name, Wouter! Let the Mack Point Wood and its ancient peat and wetlands continue unblasted into the future. Do not stoop in the shadowy drain of your not-very-illustrious ex-boss.
"A true rising tide lifts  business, nature and the people, Mr. van Kempen.

"Be that tide!

"The choice is yours, Wouter Van Kempen! "
Poems and songs followed, as the region's creative economy and scenic tourism business owners prayed that DCP's new leader would pull his predecessor' misguided DCP megatank plan before their forest is flattened, its soils torn away, its streams filled, the granite bedrock itself blasted flat and the giant steel folly rises obscenely and uselessly into the viewsheds of a dozen towns.