Apr 28, 2013

Maine could be first state to require warning labels on genetically eng'rd lobsters & other seafood

Recently New England's marine biotech community has been trumpeting genetic engineering of Seafood. NOAA recently reported on  experiments by Connecticut Seagrant  creating transgenic fish and crustaceans

On April 24, 2013 the Maine legislature's Marine Resources committee heard  LD 898 An Act To Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Marine Organisms. (Listen to bill testimony below) Sponsored by Rep Ralph Chapman, LD 898's summary reads:

"This bill requires clear and conspicuous labeling of marine organisms offered for sale that are produced using genetic engineering. Failure to provide the required labeling is a civil violation subject to enforcement by the Commissioner of Marine Resources."

LD 898 is a less known companion to LD 718 An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock that was heard on April 23rd by the Maine legislature's Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee. But it deserves a great deal of attention from the same people that support LD 718. If they do, the committee  will give it some serious attention. Promoting this bill nationwide may be helpful.

Here is the bill and its introduction and testimony from the 4/24/13 public hearing

LD 898 An Act To Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Marine Organisms  Sponsored by Rep Ralph Chapman  In particular labeling of retail sold GE'd seafood species


Bill Opponent Testimony

Apr 25, 2013

Ring around Penobscot Bay June 1st. Why? Because our Two Bays must become One.

The central challenge we face  keeping the Bay safe as a single ecoregion is that Penobscot Bay is the coastal partition of the 'Two Maines', with only limited community connectivity between East Penobscot Bay and West Penobscot Bay.   

On June First, take part in Ring Around The Bay, an amazing shore to shore, bay coast to bay coast event that brings the communities of both Maines together around their common bay, and  lays out the roadmap for organizing the Penobscot Baykeeper.  

Want to help? write us at penbay@justice.com or call us at 207-593-2744

Nature and history have conspired to create "Two Penobscot Bays" each with its own economic & cultural centers and natural resource bases - largely separate of the other.  As a result  East Penobscot Bay and West Penobscot Bay differ environmentally, ecologically, socially and economically from each other:. 

To the west, bay communities connect like pearls on a string along the Route One interstate highway corridor;   East Penobscot Bay hosts a tapestry of small communities linked by webs of  local roads and byways, with Route One only passing by the bay's northeast corner on its way Downeast.
While this makes for a certain robustness to the region, there are stark lessons to be learned from the DCP near-disaster, that we ignore at our peril. The fight against Big Tank,  the Sears Island struggles, the successful effort to keep salmon farming out of the bay, and other battles for the environmental quality and scenic character of Penobscot Bay have taught us taht:

1.  Development or pollution in any one part of Penobscot Bay can harm the rest, and 
2.  Every year, more development wannabees large and small come to Penobscot Bay
3. Countering   developers' money and influence requires organized,  sustained People Power.

Otherwise we end up with "Dumb Growth":  projects that damage the ecosystem and/or economy of the bay,  with federal and state officials who rule on them seemingly struck dumb concerning those unpleasant impacts, approving them regardless of community opposition.

Regrettably, in these times we can expect many dumb growth plans to arrive  in or around Penobscot Bay, often with skilled public relations teams and campaign cash. To keep Penobscot Bay America's scenic lobster basket, we must detect and fend off each  dumb growth proposals as it arrives.

We must rethink our existing Two Bays  point of view.   The two bays must become one to fend off the coming threats - for they assuredly will come. Two into One is the purpose and theme of the  Ring Around The Bay on June 1st.  We will use all the means of community connectivity  from runners, drums, mirrors and smoke signals around  from Stonington round to Port Clyde, Sears Island to Vinalhaven, and a marathon 18 hour webinar that documents it all.

 In the worldwide lexicon of signalers, two flashes, two smoke puffs, or two drumbeats means PAY ATTENTION!  (Groups of three signals means EMERGENCY )   On June first, that is our message

OUR MESSAGE i two beats, two smoke puffs, two mirror flashes, with those pairs repeated  twice:
calls us all to pay attention: the two Penobscot Bays must become one.

Are you a drummer? dadum -dadum ...5 seconds.....dadum-dadum.........10 sec........ dadum-dadum......five seconds...... dadum-dadum!

A firebuilder?
Smokepuff ..10 sec delay.....smokepuff........20 sec delay..........smokepuff ....10 sec delay..smokepuff

A mirror signaller?  
 Flash - 1 second delay - flash....5 seconds delay .....flash - 1 second delay - flash.

A runner? 
From Islesboro's Turtle Head to Pendleton Point, and from Pendleton Point to Turtle Head,  runners will carry the word the length of this chain of islands connecting upper Penobscot  Bay to outer Penobscot Bay.

Other? The human capacity for communication knows no bounds, Whatever medium you choose, prepare to spread the word around the bay:  Pay Attention to Your Bay!   

We will be on high points and other places that are in line of sight or line of sound of the many reaches of the bay. Aready people on both sides of the mouth of the bay and on Sears Island and at Searsport Shores' beach have committed to their places.   There will be presences everywhere around Penobscot Bay, even aboard one or more of the boats and  ferries plying the bay on June 1st.

THE GRAND FINALE To thunderous applause, this "Attention: one bay!"  message will finally be delivered  to those gathered at  the Unitarian Universalist Church in Belfast, there to examine and celebrate the defeat of Big Gas and look to the future.

Want to take part? Got ideas, mirrors drums horns smoke skills?  Willing to run for miles?

Contact the Friends of Penobscot Bay at penbay@justice.com or call 593-2744.

It's your bay that's under attack. Deal with it.

Apr 23, 2013

Army Corps hammers another nail in DCP Midstream megatank plan's coffin

Is the Big Tank nightmare over?  

On April 23rd, Jay Clement of the Army Corps of Engineers sent this letter  to DCP Midstream's  Rebecca Malloy, informing them that their Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Searsport LPG Tank is revoked.

This  revocation was at the behest of the beaten energy giant, tails between its legs,  humbled by the fortuitous but potent coming-together of Penobscot Bay-area environmental advocates, local citizenry  of Searsport  the threatened town, and pockets quite as deep as DCP's dotting the slender island that pierces the heart of Penobscot Bay: Islesboro.

Jay wrote: 

"Dear Ms. Malloy:

"This concerns your Department of the Army permit, number NAE-2010-02347, that authorized the placement of fill below the ordinary high water line of an unnamed tributary to Long Cove and in adjacent freshwater wetlands at Searsport, Maine in order to develop a liquid propane storage and off loading facility on Mack Point.

"In a letter dated April 12, 2013, your Maine attorney indicated that you now have no
intention of proceeding with the project and that you wish to have the Corps revoke the permit.

"Furthermore, it is our understanding, based on conversations between your attorney and John Almeida of our Office of Counsel, that you do not wish to avail yourself of the opportunity to request a meeting with the District Engineer or a public hearing before a revocation decision is made.

"Therefore, in response to your request and in accordance with Title 33 CFR Part 325.7, your Department of the Army permit is revoked.

"If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Jay Clement at 207-623-8367 at our Manchester, Maine Project Office.

Jay Clement 

Apr 19, 2013

Ring Around the Bay! June 1st, come together around Penobscot Bay

Want to help create a baykeeper organization for Penobscot Bay?

On Saturday June 1st join the rest of Penobscot Bay as a single community, in a gigantic  living


Penobscot Bay has only recently escaped a major industrial development in its brackish  upper estuary that would have had major short term and long term negative effects on the fish,, shellfish  and other wildlife of the bay, as well as the many  tourism businesses  and commercial fisheries that  sustainably exploit them.

 Fending off the DCP Midstream supertank proposal required quickly organizing an effective opposition to respond to the flurry of local state and federal permits and licenses suddenly under consideration.

Happily, because bay defenders had already encountered and fended off  two  enormous industrial port proposals for nearby Sears Island,  the importance of coordinating concerned citizenry  to react to these permit applications and to the company's public relations team was  well understood.  Despite the vigorous efforts of Governors McKernan, King and Baldacci to ram their port plans through,  these projects were held off, and Sears Island remains tranquil - though scarred by an unlawfully constructed  causeway and road that now supports hikers and bicyclists rather than  woodchip trucks or LNG tanker trucks.

But these projects keep on coming - not to mention the many many smaller development proejcts that cumulatively add up to bad news for the bay.   In order to not have to reinvent the wheel each time one comes forward - anywhere around Penobscot Bay - we very much need a baywide environmental organization that can mobilze effective responses.

The recently incorporated Friends of Penobscot Pay plans to be that organization.  We will hire and train a Penobscot Baykeeper  who will keep in contact with the fishermen, sailors, harbormasters, tourism businesses and all others who work and play in Penobscot Bay  both to inform them when issues of pollution or coastal sprawl are coming down that could harm the bay, and to leanr from this wide web of bay-relating people when ecological  or environmental problems crop up in their part of Penobscot Bay

On Saturday June 1st, join hikers, waders, swimmers, divers, paddlers, sailors, fishermen, beachcombers, virtual travelers and more, as the Friends of Penobscot Bay coordinate an amazing living snapshot and celebration of the beauty, health and productivity of Maine's biggest bay - and of challenges facing Penobscot Bay and those who depend on its natural beauty and productivity. Registration information below.You can help make this happen in any myriad ways.

From Port Clyde round to Stonington, from Monhegan to Sears Island, the Friends of Penobscot Bay need to find those who can and will use their technology old and new, to connect Bay huggers in a living and virtual Ring Around the Bay.

Semaphore, mirrors, ships' flags, sunset guns, cellphones, iphones, CBs, webcams, balloons will be woven into a live and audio-visual tapestry of our great bay from stem to stern.

Help bring it all into use around Penobscot Bay June1st

 One bay people and bay nature. Like nowhere else on earth.INFRASTRUCTURE Who do you know that works or plays on in and around Penobscot Bay?

Pick your place on the Ring around the Bay today! Your avatar will be added to our Virtual Penobscot Bay [under construction], in preparation for June 1st when the Ring around the Bay goes live!To register write to penbay@justice.com or call 207-593-2744,

Friends of Penobscot Bay
POB 1871
Rockland Maine 04841

e: coastwatch@gmail.com
tel: 207-691-7485 cell 207-593-2744
web: www.penbay.net

Apr 15, 2013

BDN: Elver fishery boom & 1990s urchin bust. Text and video

Bangor Daily News story and video features Friends of Penobscot Bay Board member and urchin tender Robert Iserbyt  on April 14th. Click headline link below for video.

Elver fishery boom generates memories of 1990s urchin bust
by Bill Trotter, BDN  April 14, 2013

Elvers, the spaghetti-thin transparent juvenile American eels, may be the most sought-after commercial marine species in Maine right now, but they are not the first to rocket to prominence due to demand in the Far East.
Robert Iserbyt tends an urchin diver. About to sort.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was sea urchins. The round, spiny, baseball-sized creatures are treasured in Japan and neighboring countries for their roe, which is considered a seafood delicacy. But in the late 1980s local stocks in the western Pacific Ocean began to wane. That’s when Asian seafood dealers discovered that Maine had plenty.

Landings for Maine urchins, long considered a nuisance by lobstermen, soared at a time when few restrictions on urchin harvesting were in place. In less than 10 years, the statewide volume of urchin landings exploded from 1.4 million pounds to more than 41 million pounds.
The boom, however, turned into a bust. The annual value of Maine’s urchin landings went from $236,000 in 1987 to more than $35 million in 1995, but declined quickly again in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, when the average annual price was $2.63 per pound, urchin fishermen statewide earned less than $5 million for their catch and, for the first time since 1987, caught less than 2 million pounds.
Inside a sea urchin
Now that a spike in Asian demand for eels has elvers fetching top dollar — around $2,000 per pound this spring, as opposed to $185 per pound three years ago — some are wondering if Maine’s elver fishery will go the way of the urchins.
But others who had a front row seat to the urchin gold rush of the late 1980s and early 1990s say the regulatory situation with elvers is very different. Unlike the urchin fishery, American eels make up a multistate fishery and so are regulated by federal law. And unlike urchins, strict conservation measures for elvers had been in place for many years before the price exploded.
Bill Sutter, a Wiscasset resident who has dragged for urchins since the 1960s, said Thursday that federal regulators likely will impose tighter restrictions on American eel harvests before catches start declining. Annual catches of elvers in Maine increased from 3,100 pounds in 2010 to 19,000 in 2012.
Sutter, who has never fished for elvers, said the urchin boom coincided with a sudden increase in the Gulf of Maine’s urchin population. There has been no similar spike in the eel population, he added. In fact, the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission indicated in a stock assessment last year that the eels’ population is depleted in American waters from historical levels, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is considering listing the species under the Endangered Species Act.
Elver poacher's  nets discovered
State officials have said that despite the overall decline of eels along the East Coast, they don’t believe the elver fishery in Maine — which is one of only two states where elver fishing is allowed — is having a significant effect on the species’ overall population.
According to Sutter, increased regulation may reduce the amount of elvers that are harvested in Maine, but he doesn’t expect there to be any sudden declines in existing population levels that would cause buyers to look elsewhere. Federal regulators will act before that happens, he said.
“It won’t be a repeat [of the urchin bust],” he said.
Ian Emery, a Cutler resident who like Sutter sits on the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ urchin advisory council, said Thursday that when the price of urchins soared in the late 1980s, all that was needed was a general commercial fishing license. When he got into the fishery in the early 1990s he could go diving as often as he wanted, any time of year, and faced no catch limit. It took only 15 minutes of diving to fill up a 150-pound tote, he added.
“Some of the guys were making $1,000 or $2,000 a day,” Emery said. “It was second only to lobsters in terms of landings [volume] and value.”
Elvers, with an overall 2012 catch value of nearly $38 million, now rank second in Maine behind lobster in statewide fishing income. But with license limits that are in place, that income is spread out among fewer fishermen than it was during the urchin boom.
According to DMR records, there were more than 2,700 licensed urchin fishermen in Maine in 1994 (and only 377 in 2011). From 2006 through 2012, DMR capped the number of elver licenses it issued each year to 407. As part of an ongoing dispute with the Passamaquoddy Tribe about how many licenses the tribe can give its members, DMR increased its elver license limit this year to 432.  (cont'd below photo)

DMR’s goal is to keep the statewide license total below the 744 limit set by ASMFC.

In contrast to the lack of fishing time restrictions during the urchin boom, elver fishermen are limited to fishing five days a week during a 10-week season that runs each spring from March 22 through May 31.
Robin Alden, who headed up the Maine Department of Marine Resources from early 1995 through 1997, said Thursday that not only were there almost no fishing restrictions on urchin fishing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it took a relatively long time to put conservation measures in place.
At the time, DMR did not have the authority to implement new regulations on its own for new fisheries, as it does now, said Alden, who now serves as executive director at Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington. Consequently, it was up to the Legislature to implement management measures for urchins. And because demand and profitability already had soared, there was an intense lobbying effort to minimize whatever restrictions might be put in place, she said.
“There was a tremendous amount of lobbying,” Alden said. “It was really, really tough [to pass new conservation measures].”
Terry Stockwell, a longtime senior official at DMR, said Thursday that at the time, the prevailing approach was to help provide financial opportunities for fishermen, particularly those who lived Down East. He hesitated to say urchins were overfished, saying that environmental factors may have contributed to a decrease in their population, but that DMR’s regulatory approach has changed. The department still wants to help fishermen earn a living, he said, but not at the expense of any fishery’s long-term viability.
“It’s sort of lesson learned,” Stockwell said.
When it comes to the future of the elver fishery, he added, “ASMFC will be driving the bus.”
And no matter what restrictions might be put in place, Stockwell added, Mother Nature might address the issue on her own, he added.
Scientists believe that one reason that the urchin population in the gulf has not recovered is because of the dominant presence of kelp. Urchins feed on kelp and, when their numbers were high, prevented kelp from growing into thick patches that provide habitat to predators. Now that kelp is prevalent along the coast, the theory goes, it is providing shelter to a growing population of crabs that eat young urchins.
Stockwell said warm temperatures in Maine last spring contributed to robust elver runs in tidal estuaries and to the high elver landings total. Conversely, warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine this past winter have contributed to low shrimp landings, he added. This winter’s shrimp season in the gulf, which ended Friday, April 12, will be the first since at least 2010 that fishermen failed to reach their cumulative quota, which has been reduced each of the past four years.
“We’re nowhere near reaching the quota [of nearly 1.4 million pounds],” Stockwell said.
Alden cautioned that, even with elver management practices well established, it is unknown how they will affect Maine’s elver supply over the long term.
She said the fishery targets an early juvenile stage of the eel; that eels can live for 15-20 years; and that they don’t spawn until the end of their lives. The combination of these three factors means the effect of today’s fishery on the reproductive success of the species won’t be known for some time.
“We may not know the impact on the population for another 15-20 years, and that’s really scary,” she said.
Also, Alden said, the complex life cycle of the eel makes it more difficult to survey the population. Adult eels swim out to breed in the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean before dying, and their young swim back to shore into tidal estuaries and upriver into lakes and ponds, sometimes choosing an entirely different latitude from where their parents spent their lives. Taking a survey to gauge how many eels might be out there, Alden said, is no simple task.
Urchins, by contrast, spend their life cycles in a much more concentrated area, reproducing in the same waters where they were born and grew, she said. If an area along the coast seems to have a relatively healthy adult population, it can be assumed that the population will remain healthy for at least the near future.
Sutter, however, is not optimistic about the future of Maine’s urchin fishery. During this past season, which ended last month, urchin fishermen in western Maine were limited to only 15 days fishing, while fishermen in eastern Maine, where the resource is healthier, were limited to 36 days. Regulators are calling for more reductions for the 2013-2014 season, which Sutter predicted will put some processors out of business. If the overall catch is too small, he said, processors and dealers won’t be able to produce enough to interest potential buyers, which will make it harder to sell what urchins are caught and push prices down.
Sutter said there are areas west of Penobscot Bay that haven’t been fished in seven or eight years and still urchin numbers remain low, which suggests environmental factors are at work.
Urchin aquaculture or seeding projects are possible but expensive, he added, and wouldn’t be effective without the establishment of smaller management zones, which would give local fishermen more control over the areas where they fish.
As long as there are only two zones and increasing catch restrictions, it will make it harder for fishermen to try out different management techniques that might prove effective.
“It’s been in a downward spiral for 20 years,” Sutter said of the urchin fishery. “I think it’s going to keep going that way.”

Apr 11, 2013

Alewife Liberation! Maine legislature passes bill reopening the St. Croix to river herring.

Thanks to the determined efforts of Doug Watts, Kathleen McGee ,Ed Friedman, the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, the Passamaquoddy Nation and many more more fish lovers,  the Maine legislature has finally been convinced to pass a bill ordering the removal of a single wooden board that for nearly two decades has blocked the migration of River Herring into the Saint Croix River.

Open the up, please
 Once again a magnificent river of living protein will pour in and out of our northern border river, feeding untold multitudes of birds, bears and other wildlife - and other fishes -while doing so (not to mention human exploitation as food and bait.)

Listen to March 25, 2013 testimony on the bill byEd Friedman  and by Kathleen McGee

Listen to the April 1, 2013 work session where the legislature's Marine Resources committee approved reopening the Great Falls dam to river herring 

Ed Friedman of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay explains all in the following press alert:

"After two earlier passes each in Maine House and Senate, the bill calling for unlimited river herring access on the St. Croix River was enacted yesterday in both bodies with 84% in favor in the House and 91% in favor in the Senate. My guess is the governor will ignore it allowing automatic passage in ten days. Being emergency legislation, a 2/3 vote was needed for enactment.

It was the lawsuit against Maine brought by Doug Watts, Kathleen McGee and Friends of Merrymeeting Bay that initiated the renewed effort leading to this outcome. The suit stayed further action by the International Joint Commission which was headed without much objection towards an adaptive management strategy whereby only a limited number of river herring would be given access and their future determined by the response from non-native small mouth bass.

We love Alewives!
While the federal court ultimately dismissed our case, they provided us a road map for subsequent action in stating all administrative remedies had not been exhausted and suggesting we go to the EPA [it was always a toss-up who to target and we opted for Maine as the actual violator and with a suit against the state providing the cleaner legal path forward]. 

It was our first Notice of Intent [NOI] to sue the EPA that triggered the agency letter to Maine advising the state they were in violation of water quality statutes. About this time, the Conservation Law Foundation filed a suit against Maine similar to our original in federal court. Our attorneys did not feel this was “ripe” because there still existed additional administrative remedies to exhaust [the promulgation by EPA of revised water quality statutes]. To this end our attorneys drafted another NOI and we were ready to file a complaint against the agency for failure in their non-discretionary duty to act on drafting water quality statute revisions. If no action was taken by the EPA, this would finally ripen our case for a return to court bringing a federal preemption claim under the Clean Water Act.

Concurrently, in December we asked Representative Bruce MacDonald to sponsor legislation for us that would reopen the Grand Falls fishway. It was not emergency legislation but had an opening date of May 1, 2013 which would have been too soon if passed normally. Because of the conflict in my drafting, Bruce had it changed to emergency legislation and when session opened there was our bill and a virtually identical bill submitted by Rep. Madonna Soctomah at the request of the Passamaquoddy Tribal Council [PTC]. It was two of ours against the Governor’s adaptive management bill which even the DMR Commissioner admitted had no science to support it. In a “friendly folding” we had no problem with the Marine Resources Committee voting against ours in favor of the Passamoquddy’s and bringing only one bill forward. This is what passed through the legislature so well.

Paul Bisulca of the Schoodic River Keepers and formerly of the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission deserves a lot of credit for soliciting new support letters from USFWS, NMFS, EPA [still pressured by our new NOI letter and imminent filing of our lawsuit], PTC for bringing their bill forward and Rep. Soctomah, Jeffrey Pierce of the Alewife Harvesters of Maine, Beth Ahearn and several other folks lobbying for main stream environmental groups deserve kudos for lobbying legislators and pushing the bill through the legislature in a timely fashion. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association and Downeast Lobstermen’s Association also supported the effort. Forty-five people testified for the open access bills and all deserve thanks.

Assuming the bill goes into effect one way or the other, this year’s alewives and blueback herring will be the first to gain access above the fishway since 1995.

Staring out nearly three years ago, our attorneys were Roger Fleming and Erica Fuller of Earthjustice and Dave Nicholas a sole practitioner with whom we have long worked on other fish passage issues. After the dismissal, Erica and Roger continued helping us while Dave focused on our increasingly intense and ongoing ESA suit for illegal take of Atlantic salmon by owners of the seven lower dams on the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers. Special thanks to all three of these practitioners!

Thanks to all!


Searsport dredge spoils would include "black organic silt" and "coal, slag and petroleum odor"

Penobscot Bay defenders should insist on secure upland landfilling of at least the top 25 feet of any dredge spoils taken up as part of the proposed 101 acre Searsport Harbor dredging project. Even if the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't agree.

Why? Because according to the Site Surface Conditions section of the Army Corps of Engineers review of the project, there are troubling wastes mixed into the upper layers of the harbor sediments. Things we don't want re-released into the bay ecosystem: (See page 132 of the Appendices pdf below)

1. The upper layer of Searsport Harbor sediments is a 2 to 5 feet thick layer of "very soft black organic silt"  with "a strong organic odor". In addition,  "..coal, slag and petroleum odor were encountered" in the proposed dredge area closest to the existing piers.

Certainly not what you'd want dumped onto the heads of juvenile lobsters! 

2. Below that black organic matter, the Corps found a layer of  brown silt that is also contaminated - though to a lesser degree, the report says. 

3. Then comes gray marine clay, up to twentyone feet thick, the upper part mixed with sand and gravel, with "lenses of rust colored sand."

Recommendation:  If dredging proceeds, the black organic matter and the brown silt must be dumped upland, along with the contents of the "lenses of rust colored sand" which could be old rusted out waste barrels from the 19th or 20th century

Get informed. Herer are the official documents: Feasibility Study  **  Appendices  **   Sediment Testing

Another part of the  Army Corps study of that black organic layer - and the brown silt layer beneath it - indicates  substantial  accumulation of  heavy metals and other toxic wastes in portions of the sites proposed for dredging.  More about that in a later post...

Apr 10, 2013

DCP Searsport's death throes continue. Company adds two more nails to its own coffin.

Two more twitches of the corpse of DCP Searsport were detected, one on April 5th and one April 9th, 2013:

The April 5th "Petition for Surrender of License",  by Kelly Boden, DCP's soon-to-be-former Maine attorney, concludes with the following to Maine DEP Commissioner Patty Aho:

"Given that DCP has concluded that it is not going to construct the Project as permitted by the Department, pursuant to Section 23 of Chapter 2 of  Department's rules, DCP hereby petitions to surrender the DEP Licenses. DCP has not commenced any on-site activities approved under the DEP Licenses and does not intend to do so in the future. DCP hereby waives any notice or opportunity for a hearing."

On April 9th, a "Notice of Withdrawal"  was sent  by soon-to-be-ex-DCP atty James Kilbreth to Jay Clement at the Army Corps of Engineers, announcing the death of the LPG tank proposal:

"DCP has petitioned to surrender its Maine DEP permits (attached). Although I understand that there is no formal mechanism to surrender the above-identified Army Corps permit, DCP has no intention of proceeding with the Project at this point. DCP has undertaken no activity with respect to the activities permitted by the Corps."

So long DCP! It appears that corporate rigor mortis is setting in. Let us turn DCP's picture to the wall, and contemplate how better our world without the (not-so) dearly departed!

Apr 9, 2013

Sewage sludge easing through Maine Legislature. Retailing soon in Maine as "Biosolids"?

The Maine legislature's agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee held a public hearing & a worksession on April 9, 2013 on LD 1009 An Act Concerning Fertilizer and Lime Products The ACF Comittee vote was Ought To Pass as Amended.

LD 1009  defines treated sewage sludge as Biosolids. "Biosolids means municipal sewage sludge that is a primarily organic, semisolid product resulting from the wastewater treatment process that can be beneficially recycled, including material derived from biosolids and septic tank sludge, also known as septage.

Something that could lawfully be spread onto the farms, fields and forests of Maine. Human-based sludge as fertilizer is controversial, due to pharmceuticals and other chemical wastes  accumulated by human beings that is mixed into thisorganic waste.

The bay blogger only captured the last 5 and a half minutes of the public hearing on LD 1009, begining with MDEP's staffer okaying the bill provided certain amendments were adopted, (They were)  followed by  Robert Tardy atty representing "Casella Organics", then attorney Bill Ferdinand from Eaton Peabody, then a Cassella  operations mgr. These waste industry partisans all sounded in a good mood.

This was followed immediately by the work session, where the committee discussed the amendments that I think restrict the marketing of the sludge material as fertilizer (don't have the amd's at hand) The committee voted the bill an Ought To Pass As Amended. 

LD 1099's Summary reads: "This bill adds the definitions of "biosolids," "packaged biosolids" and "unpackaged biosolids" to the Maine Commercial Fertilizer Law. The bill also amends the definition of "commercial fertilizer" to mean a substance containing one or more recognized fertilizer materials bearing a guaranteed analysis on the product label of a packaged product. The bill also exempts unpackaged biosolids and packaged biosolids derived primarily from residuals regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection from being registered before being offered for sale and from the tonnage report."

Coming to a watershed near you soon? Or Not.

DCP Down! The early resistance: September 2011

Back in the mists of time,  DCP Midstream filed its first application with MDEP, following the Searport height elevation change.   Below, a copy of  Astrig Tanguay's September 9, 2011 letter to the Maine DEP, one of a number sent by local citizenry who, shortly after, coalesced into Thanks But No Tank!
Astrig Tanguay
Searsport Shores Campground
216 West Main Street
Searsport, ME 04974
Sept 9, 2011
Ms. Robin Clukey Project Manager
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
106 Hogan Road
Bangor, Maine 04401
Re DCP Midstream Applications L-025359-TG-B-N and L-025359--A-N.

Dear Ms Clukey
 here are our comments on the DCP midstream LPG tank proposal. 
Please contact me if you have any questions. My tel# is 548-6059


Ms. Robin Clukey Project Manager
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
106 Hogan Road
Bangor, Maine 04401.

Re DCP Midstream Applications L-025359-TG-B-N and L-025359--A-N.

Dear Ms Clukey

We are writing concerning the applications by DCP Midstream Partners LP to build and
operate an LPG terminal at Mack Point in Searsport, Maine. DCP proposes a 137-foot
high storage tank, 202 feet in diameter. 
We are owners of Searsport shores campground and the DCP tank as proposed would 
intrude into our scenic areas. This is not good for our business which brings many 1,000s of 
guests. And we believe that Maine DEP should consider the wellbeing of existing businesses 
before permitting a new one that could harm them including us.

The proposed tank farm would be visible from most of the part of Sears Island including the part under
conservation easement. The other third of the island faces directly on Mack Point and is
also heavily used by pedestrians for scenic appreciation and other recreational
purposes. Because the existing tank farms are lower than the horizon from the island,
they fit harmoniously into the environment’s viewshed and do not intrude into ours

DCP-Midstream’s proposed facility, by contrast, would be tall enough to emerge into
numerous protected scenic viewsheds of the bay region, including our campground.

It would violate the Natural Resources Act’s and Site Location of Development Act’s
requirements that a developer fit its development “harmoniously into the existing natural

As detailed below, we urge the department to require the applicant to design its
proposal facility to fit as harmoniously as possible into the existing environment, by
limiting the elevation of the proposal LPG tank to a height similar to existing tank farms
of Mack Point, even if it requires two tanks instead of one. If the applicant declines to
amend its plan to be consistent with site law and the NRPA then the Department needs
to reject the application to protect irreplaceable resources that are presently generating
substantial economic activity in the area, including our business which also supports many
other businesses

Our campground like many other sectors of Penobscot Bay area economies are closely tied to the 
natural character of the bay region. Quality of life, particularly scenic quality, are major
selling points for hundreds of area businesses from bed & breakfasts to cruise ships,
that employ and support thousands of area citizens and bring many more thousands to
enjoy Penobscot Bay

DCP Midstream and the Department have not as far as we can tell, given

sufficient consideration to the potential that the project, as proposed , will cause
permanent degradation of protected scenic vistas both near and distant from the
proposed project.

In the application before you, the developer proposes to exploit a recent Searsport
ordinance raising height limitation in that town. However, state laws, including the
Natural Resources Protection Act and the Site Location of Development Act, will trump
municipal ordinance when a dispute arises over protecting significant scenic resources
of local state or national significance , including those outside of the town of Searsport.
The proposed configuration would irretrievably degrade the unbroken natural skylines
that exist within most of the recreational and tourism areas of Searsport, Stockton
Springs, Islesboro, Deer Isle and other locations at greater distance . These are not
replaceable scenic assets.Many are very well known and reachable only by footpaths.

The existing tank farms are not visible from most scenic views including ours. In those area
views where they are visible, the existing tank farms are nestled below a hill and do not rise above the horizon, as DCP’s proposed facility would.

Because the applicant’s reasons for preferring a facility that does violate scenic
protection rules and statutes appear to be simply higher profits and not geographic
limitations or other necessity, the Department needs to require alternatives of either a
single smaller tank or two smaller tanks to meet its plans

The Site Location of Development Act 38 §481 et seq. (Site Law) applies to the DCP
Midstream oil tank proposal. The discretion of the Department must prevail over municipal
ordinance when it comes to determining whether a development project will cause irreparable
unnecessary impact to irreplaceable scenic aesthetic, recreational or navigational uses to be

We strongly believe that in this case, the Department must find that the applicant has a
practicable alternative that would meet the project purpose and not result in adverse
impacts to existing scenic, aesthetic, recreational uses. Therefore, if the applicant fails
to adopt such an alternative , the Department must find that the impacts of this project
on scenic, aesthetic, recreational and navigational uses are unreasonable.


Astrig and Steve Tanguay
Searsport Shores Campground
Searsport ME

Sell dragger-caught lobster bycatch in Maine? Legislators hear both sides.

On April 8, 2013, The Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of LD 1097 An Act To Allow the Sale of Incidentally Caught Lobsters  "This bill allows commercial fishing operators who take lobsters as bycatch from federal Lobster Management Area 3 to land the lobsters at a commercial exchange that auctions fish in the City of Portland..."   A similar bill lost in 2007 (media article) (See images of dragged lobsters from a trawl survey


Introduction  of LD 1097 by Senator Haskell_10min 33sec

DMR supporter Meredith Mendelson 8min 54sec

Public Testimony

David Cousens, MLA & QA 10 min 48sec

Jim Odlin, trawler captain 13 min 24 sec

William Gerenser (sp) 3min 24 sec

Allen Tracy, Vessel Services 3min 29 sec

Julie Eaton, Maine Lobster Union 1min 9 sec

Alison Jornal groundfisher 2min 40 sec

Robert Baines, Maine Lobster Advisory Council 3min 19sec

Kerry Alexander 5min 2sec

William Anderson 2min 35sec

Arnold Gamage 1min 44sec

Terry Jordan 3min 54sec

Lucas DeWill (capt Odlin boat) 38sec

Jerry Lehman 2min55sec

Sheila Dassatt DELA, 3min43sec

Jeffrey T. Peterson, Vinalhaven 1 minute

Elliott Thomas 12min 32 sec

Justine Simon 1min 48sec

Chris Cerber (sp) Owls Head  2min 7 sec

James Dow  3min

Justin Dyer, Vinalhaven 1min14sec

Diane Cowan 4min 6sec

Marty Uhlmann (sp) 3min 16sec

Ernest Burgess older fisherman 7min 7 sec

Daniel Wong 1min 42sec

Maggie Raymond Assoc Fisheries of Maine 5min 32sec

Don Billideau (sp)  2min 17sec

Robert Raye 2min

Magnus Lane 3min 24sec

Jessie Drinkwater 60sec

Jared Johnson ,Long Island ME  1min27sec