May 30, 2015

Coal tar Polluters Get Reprieve from Maine legislators

 Bringing coal to Maine is bad enough, but bringing its goopy extract called coal tar into Maine, and spraying it atop existing driveways and parking lots to give them that "fresh asphalt look" is equally dumb. So an enlightened legislator decided to try to do something about it by introducing LD 1212 An Act To Prohibit Coal Tar Pavement Products.

Unfortunately, despite powerful testimony from concerned citizens, and and credible information from the US Geologic survey and other sources including the Maine DEP, and support from progressive legislators like Ben Chipman, the Maine Legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee balked at the idea that some coal tar sprayers applicants in Maine might be discomfited by having to switch to safer materials, and voted Ought Not to Pass, effectively killing the bill.

This despite the fact that big box retailers like Lowes and Walmart have stopped selling sealcoat, citing its toxicity! Not to mention that in other states where the toxic spray is banned, driveway and parking lot pavers hav had no difficulty switching to a less deadly brew.

A potent carcinogen, Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) dissolves from Sealcoat at levels and enters gutters, brooks, streams, rivers, bays affecting plankton, fish, people.

USGS wrote this year "Coal-tar-based sealcoat typically is 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch and contains from 50,000 to 100,000 milligrams per kilogram (or parts per million) PAHs, about 1,000 times higher than PAH concentrations in asphalt-based sealcoat products, and hundreds of times higher than PAH concentrations in tire particles, used motor oil, or other urban sources. At least seven PAHs, including benzo[a]pyrene, are probable human carcinogens."

Seemingly feeling a twinge of guilt at okaying continued water pollution of such magnitude, proposals were made to so soften the blow. They first sought to substitute a letter directing Maine DEP to study and report back on Sealcoat, then when DEP said it had no money for such a study. asked DEP to write them a letter about ..... something.

DEP's official at the worksession asked: a letter saying...what? This was never made clear. DEP had already issued a report blasting the substance... Poor legislators! They just wanted to say no to the bill and blow it off to 2015 but the agency wouldn't help them.

But Ought Not To Pass it was. The toxic sludge will continue to be sprayed onto parking lots and driveways sending its deadly chemicals into the waters of Penobscot Bay, the Saint George River, the Bagaduce River and all up and down the Maine coast and inland.

Sealcoat is one of those "worst o fthe worst" pollution sources. If the state won't ban it, can our towns? The material is really just a vanity application that may look prettier - if asphalt can ever be called pretty- but delivers a deadly punch to the waterbodies it washes into

May 28, 2015

Gasser-wannabees want tax break from city of Rockland.

From the Courier Gazette.Knox Village Soup

Power plant developer will seek TIF agreement with city

Developer to press: 'No comment'
Photo by: Daniel DunkleRockland Energy Center spokesman Evan Coleman speaks to residents at the May 26 public forum at City Hall.
ROCKLAND — During a public forum May 26 concerning the proposal to build a natural gas fired power plant on the current City Hall and public works garage property, the developer for the project said his company would seek a tax increment financing district agreement with the City of Rockland.
Evan Coleman, who is described as a partner in Rockland Energy Center, the local name for the project proposed by Energy Management Inc., fielded questions from the public including a question specifically asking about the possibility of a tax increment financing district (often referred to as TIF agreements).
Coleman said at the meeting that the company would have a TIF agreement with the city for a 25-year period. He described this as a negotiated tax agreement that would set what the company would pay in taxes each year for the term of the agreement. He added that way, the city would know exactly what it was receiving each year in taxes and the power plant company would be able to plan for its exact costs each year.
Contacted by phone May 28 for additional detail, Coleman said, "Traditionally, we don't comment to the press." When a follow-up question was asked, he terminated the phone call.
"There has been no formal discussion about Tax Increment Financing and therefore, no agreement," City Manager James Chaousis said in an email May 27. "We told the developer, like we tell most developers, that Tax Increment Financing is a tool that the city is willing to use to leverage development."
Under Maine law, municipalities are allowed to create Tax Increment Financing districts to attract or promote economic development. It was originally intended to provide tax incentive for improving an area and bringing in jobs and economic growth. It typically was used to promote development in a blighted or unattractive area.
In a TIF district, taxes paid on new property value created by the development can be used to fund infrastructure improvements. Under the TIF law, municipalities can also offer developers Credit Enhancement Agreements, which refund a portion of the property taxes paid on the new development to the business.
These agreements are approved and overseen by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and they can have a span of up to 30 years under Maine law.
TIFs also function as tax shelters in that the new value generated by the development is not added to the municipality's overall tax valuation. If the city's value goes up, state subsidy for schools, county taxes and the like go down.
As a result, Rockland Community and Economic Development Director Audra Caler-Bell said, if that revenue went into the general fund, the city would lose 42 cents on every dollar to loss of subsidy.
"There has been no formal discussions about CEA’s (Credit Enhancement Agreements)," Chaousis said. "We told the developer, like we tell most developers, that CEA’s are a tool that the city is willing to use to leverage development."
Some residents have voiced concern about the potential TIF agreement.
In a letter to the editor, Debby Atwell of Rockland criticized the proposal.
"For you all out there unbaptized in city taxing affairs, a TIF is a tax break — a rebate for a big company doing business here," she wrote.
In the letter, Atwell points out the Nautica tax break, which caused controversy back in 2002-2003 when the company closed and moved out of the city after receiving a tax break. About 300 lost their jobs when the company moved its operations to Virginia. The city, at the time, argued this was a violation of the TIF agreement.
At the time, VillageSoup editorialized that while this TIF did not work out for the city, it was still a viable economic tool, and pointed to the Fisher Engineering TIF as a more successful example.
Atwell voices skepticism that Rockland residents will receive jobs if the power plant is built.
"The power plant's operating jobs amount to 15 highly specialized technician posts," she said. "Those jobs are first class salaries and, as a rule, those people don't live in Rockland. ...So don't start counting the money. It's a pile of fool's gold. What we will get is carbon dioxide pollution raining down upon our primary and middle schools, playing fields, little league fields."
To continue exploration of the topic of TIFs, we will soon publish on the VillageSoup website a series of articles on TIFs from the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.
Caler-Bell said the reason more information cannot be released is because this development is so early in the process. It's in what she referred to as the "conceptual phase," and details are changing every day. "This is unfolding in real time," she said.
The full video of the May 26 public forum can be viewed at
Courier Publications News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 122 or

May 27, 2015

Rockland gas plant wannabee presents, takes questions at 5/26/15 public info meeting

A Public Info meeting was held May 26, 2015  on a proposed Rockland gas burning plant and steam cogenerator. Rockland Energy Center LLC partner Evan Coleman spoke and took questions. REC is a subsidiary of Energy Management Incorporated Below is the complete audio recording of the meeting broken into sections for ease of listening.

*Complete  meeting  2hr 20min long

Introduction   8min 24 sec
Evan Coleman REC presents 10min 

Fracking questioned  by public
Part One  4 min 
Part Two 6min 34sec
Part Three Q&A  6min 19 sec
Part Four  Q&A 5min 34 sec
Gas Plant Operations
Gas burning plant operations presentation. 8 min 24sec
Gas burning plant operations Q&A 1. 14min 45sec
Gas burning plant operations Q&A 2. Judith Lawson etc 19min47sec

Gas Plant Emissions
Emissions presentation 5 minutes

May 26, 2015

Rockland gas plant wannabee presents, takesquestions at 5/26/15 public info meeting

A Public Info meeting was held May 26, 2015  on proposed Rockland gas burning plant and steam cogenerator. Rockland Energy Center LLC  partner Evan Coleman spoke and took questions  Below is the complete audio recording of the meeting broken into sections for ease of listening.

*Complete  meeting  2hr 20min long

Introduction   8min 24 sec
REC Fracking Presentation 10min  32sec

Fracking questioned  by public
Part One  4 min 
Part Two 6min 34sec
Part Three Q&A  6min 19 sec
Part Four  Q&A 5min 34 sec
Gas Plant Operations
Gas burning plant operations presentation. 8 min 24sec
Gas burning plant operations Q&A 1. 14min 45sec
Gas burning plant operations Q&A 2. Judith Lawson etc 19min47sec

Gas Plant Emissions
Emissions presentation 5 minutes

May 18, 2015

Grimmel: Recent state and consultant documents approving their Mack Point steel scrap export operation plan.

We made inquiry of DEP for the chief  paperwork that must have been shared even if  only in digital formats - a trend that MDEP  encourages as paper use reducer.

DEP included the following staff  in the email conversation
"Kuhns, Mick" <>, "Kavanah, Brian W <> "Reynolds, Scott" <>,
"Wood, Jana" <>, "Wood, Gregg" <>,
"Ladd, David" <>

Jana Wood was tapped to answer FOPB's request . Here are the  four critical documents she supplied:

4/17/215 Notice of Intent to Comply w/ Maine Multisector General Permit 1 pg
4/17/215 GeoInsight  Storrmwater Pollution Prevention Plan cover letter (1 pg)
4/17/215 Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan  55 pgs
4/28/15 Stormwater permit authorization by David Kuhns, Maine DEP 2 pgs 

Here is Wood's explanatory text accompanying those documents:

"The record consists of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan prepared and submitted by Geoinsight consultants for Grimmel, application for Notice of Intent and MDEP acknowledgment letter to confirm permit coverage. 

"The permit for Grimmel was issued under the guidance of Alex Rosenberg, Region 1 EPA and include EPA rules for Sampling the stormwater for additional parameters that currently the Maine MSGP does not require, see page 17 and 18 of the SWPPP.  I have asked the consultant to convey the request to Grimmel that I want to be involved and inspect the site as scrap metal being delivered to the site for shipping.  The typical inspection program that we conduct is annual to bi-annual but in this case with so many eyes on Grimmel, I plan to conduct inspections more often to keep a close watch on the activity and stormwater recordkeeping required by the permit. 

Jana Wood
Industrial Stormwater Inspector
EMRO, 106 Hogan Road
Bangor, Maine 04401

May 17, 2015

Grimmel scrap metal export dock application approved for Mack Point

From Waldo Villagesoup/Belfast Republican Journal

Grimmel scrap metal application approved

EPA concludes 'mercury not a concern in this application'
Photo by: Jordan BaileyGrimmel Industries was granted approval to operate a junkyard -- stockpiles of scrap metal -- on leased property at Mack Point by Searsport Planning Board May 11.
SEARSPORT — Final approval for a scrap metal storage operation at Mack Point was given May 11.
Planning Board members unanimously voted to approve the application by Grimmel Industries LLC following a brief public hearing, during which residents voiced concerns about mercury as well as air and water quality.
Grimmel submitted a letter to the Planning Board April 29 with documents requested by the board, including best management practices by Sprague Energy Corp., on whose property Grimmel will operate.
Attorney Brian Rayback, speaking on behalf of Grimmel, said the company chose to abide by tougher federal standards in regard to its SWIP, or Solid Waste Implementation Plan. He told board members the Department of Environmental Protection granted Grimmel its own stormwater permit.
“This approval only applies to the discharge of stormwater,” he said. “We are not seeking to discharge anything else into the water.”
Rayback said there was a discussion about metals dropping into the water and the company has designed new “curtains” to prevent transfer of metals from contaminating bodies of water. A magnet is also used to clean up the water in the case of any loose metal, which is valuable to the company, he said.
Residents wondered why the DEP did not have a public hearing before issuing Grimmel's permit; Rayback clarified a hearing is optional but the agency is always open to accepting comments on proposals.
“It's inherent in the nature of that that it's a quick turnaround time,” he said. “We worked closely with the DEP because we knew this would be under scrutiny.”
Resident Ann Crimaudo said she had a letter from the federal Environmental Protection Agency stating a hearing would certainly take place before a permit was issued. She said she understood the board could not do anything about the lack of a hearing but wanted the EPA letter included in the record.
Ron Huber of Rockland, executive director Friends of Penobscot Bay, encouraged the Planning Board to consider strict monitoring of the operation. Steve Tanguay shared his concern staffing levels at the local and state level are too low to adequately monitor contamination levels.
Rayback noted neither EPA nor DEP guidelines include monitoring for mercury levels, an area of concern repeatedly brought up by residents.
“EPA concluded that mercury is not a pollutant of concern in this application,” he said. “… It's a very difficult thing to monitor for and we agree. … The DEP general permit says you don't have to monitor for mercury or any other metals if you're a scrap metal dealer. … We are confident we can meet the standards.”
Rayback later said the company does not plan to monitor or test for mercury.
“If Grimmel isn't doing anything harmful, they don't have anything to worry about,” Selectman Meredith Ares said.
Rayback said he has little knowledge of the mercury testing process or its associated costs.
“It's not as simple as setting the baseline and imagining it as a constant level,” he said.
Sprague Environmental Compliance Manager Jason Littlefield said the EPA believes acid rain is to blame for random shifts in mercury levels.
“It takes years to come up with some sort of baseline,” he said. “ … It's a difficult pollutant to come up with a source.”
Rayback discouraged the board from attempting to create monitoring guidelines on its own.
“We don't have anything to hide; we don't think we are the source of it,” he said. “I'm worried about setting up a testing program that's scientifically defensible.”
While the application received conditional approval in February, the board voted again on the conditional items — unanimously agreeing the conditions had been met — and also, upon the advice of town attorney Bill Kelly, on the application as a whole.

May 16, 2015

Maine DEP proposes going paperless with applications appeals and petitions Pub hearing May 21st Augusta.

Going digital?  DEP holds public hearing May 21, 2015, Augusta Civic Center on whether or not to "eliminate the requirement to submit an original paper document within five working days of an electronic submission.

This would be a change to DEP's  Chapter 2 Rules Concerning the processing of Applications and Other Administrative Matters 

The great Libraries of the past are for most part, no more. The insights, observation and wisdom  of ages, stored on cellulose & parchment  are long since gone up in flame, accidental or intentional.  

Maine DEP proposes to reduce  the amount of such potential tinder in its offices.  
Here's the detailed fact sheet and the draft rule with the proposed changes marked in .  If you take part in reviewing agency decisions on behalf of Nature of the People, you should take a look at these two documents and act accordingly
 Fact Sheet (PDF) :: Draft Rule (PDF)
Concise Summary:
The proposed amendments to Chapter 2 will facilitate the electronic submission of applications, appeals and petitions, and eliminate the requirement to submit an original paper document within five working days of an electronic submission.
Since initially posting this rule to public comment, the Department has identified additional changes to Chapter 2 that will help to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. 

The Department is now proposing to clarify the transfer of ownership provisions in this rule to allow for a more complete assessment of both the financial and technical capacity of a prospective licensee, before any license for a hazardous waste facility, solid waste disposal facility, waste oil facility, and biomedical waste facility license is transferred.

Public Hearing
Since the Department received at least five requests that a public hearing be held on this proposal, pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. §8052(1), the Department is scheduling a public hearing to be held on May 21, 2015.

Agency contact:
Jeff Crawford
17 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
Public hearing: May 21, 2015
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, Maine 04330

Public noticed: February 19, 2015
Comment deadline: June 1, 2015

May 14, 2015

Gassing Rockland? City officials respond to Freedom of Access request on handling of the cogeneration plant proposal

Rockland city government officials have released the following documents relating to a proposed gas power-ed cogeneration plant. to Friends of Penobscot Bay.  
UPDATED 5/15/15 Received by Friends of Penobscot Bay May 13, 2015

Latest: Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root's response to FOPB's May 11, 2015 FOAA request. (22 page pdf)

Ciity Manager's response via City Atty to FOPB's 5/11/15 FOAA Request
Full 275 page pdf file click here
File broken into smaller sections for ease of reading
Part 3. 26 pages
Part 4. 27 pages
Part 5. 20 pages
Part 6. 25 pages
Part 7. 29 pages
Part 8. 23 pages
Part 9. 20 pages
Part 10. 33 pages
Part 11. 23 pages
Part 12. 19 pages to end.