Written Testimony to the Judiciary Committee in Opposition to LD1810
February 21, 2012 ~ State House Room 438
Good afternoon Senator Hasting, Representative Nass, and other honorable members of the Judiciary Committee:
Unfortunately I am unable to make it to testify in person. My name is Chris Buchanan and I’m an organizer with Defending Water for Life in Maine. We are submitting written testimony in opposition to LD1810 because it will undermine individual rights by giving corporations even more power, undermine environmental protections that are in place to ensure the health and welfare of Maine people, and will cause Maine taxpayers unlimited financial hardship.
For these deeply impactful reasons, we asked who LD 1810 benefits? The answer is clients of Cathy Connors, and the Pierce Atwood lobbying firm. Ms. Connors, an undeclared lobbyist at Pierce Atwood, has repeatedly provided “Takings” bills to this legislature. Pierce Atwood has numerous clients with potential interest in LD 1810, including Casella Waste Systems, Horizon Wind Energy, and Nestle Waters North America. This bill will not benefit Maine people for many reasons.
Corporations like these are already too powerful. As we have seen by working to protect communities from corporate water miners like Nestle, successfully opposing a corporation is almost impossible already. People, towns, and corporations are expected to “duke it out” within local, state, and federal regulatory law. However, due to Dillon’s rule and legal rights granted through corporate personhood, this is like pitting a lion against a mouse. The lion, or corporation, with endless time and extensive fiscal and legal resources, will almost always win. The mouse, with limited energy, capital, and time, rarely stands a chance. For an example, see the lawsuit between Nestle Waters North America and the Town of Fryeburg. Nestle sued the town because the people did not want more trucks in town, and won. Passing LD 1810 would mean actively furthering the disempowerment of Maine’s people and Maine’s communities.
Endless cost to Maine taxpayers. The Maine state government exists to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people. To do so, Maine has laws to protect and preserve public health and the environment. LD 1810, provides corporations the right to sue the State for loss of profits incurred by these regulations. “In Oregon, this resulted in some $20 billion in claims against the state between 2004 (when state lawmakers passed such a bill) and 2007 (when they repealed it).” For any profit-curbing protective measure, Maine taxpayers are exposed to potential lawsuits. Not only does this set Maine up for endless expenditures to corporate coffers, it incentivizes deregulation.
Incentivized deregulation. The implications of further environmental de-regulation are staggering. Mainers are struggling desperately right now for economic support and leadership. The most practical and proven way to encourage economic stability and community revitalization is to support local people who are creating value added products, providing local services, and who live, work, and play in Maine. That is not possible without healthy citizens, and healthy land. We must maintain a balance between strong protections and local control to ensure the long-term vitality of Maine.
Defending Water for Life is opposed to LD 1810 because it was not written for Mainers, and will not benefit Maine. It nurtures corporate special interests, who pursue profits at the expense of Maine people and our environment. In sum, LD 1810 unleashes never-ending costs and legal headaches to Maine communities, encourages environmental devastation, and further undermines democracy. This Committee should reject this “Takings” bill, as the Legislature did in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2003, and 2011. Please hear us now, because we cannot afford to pay Pierce Atwood. Thank you for your time.
Defending Water for Life in Maine
February 16, 2012
Dear members of the Transportation Committee,
I have compiled these points regarding LD 1671 that I urge you to consider. We want to see Maine prosper. Please do not allow this feasibility study to occur, for the following reasons:
Taxpayers funding a “financial” feasibility study, to see if private investors will profit. During the public hearing, we learned for the first time that this study was, “really just a financial feasibility study,” according to Maine DOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note. They are not looking at routing, or environmental impact. Rather, they are looking to see if the demand exists for this road, and if the toll road owners will make money. Why should taxpayers do a financial risk assessment for private investors?
No way to limit the cost to taxpayers. The RESOLVE asks for $300,000 of taxpayer money, then the Maine DOT puts the project out to bid. According to Van Note, if the project requires more funding, they will not need to bring it back before the Transportation Committee, or request public permission. Taxpayers are signing a blank check for a private project.
What exactly does “Independent study” mean? During his testimony at the public hearing, Bruce Van Note said three different things in favor of this highway: 1) That the Maine DOT can’t do the study because this project is a “special” case and requires specific expertise. 2) That the Maine DOT needs to do the study so that it is “independent” and unbiased towards anyone who may benefit from the project. 3) That the project would be put up for bid. We demand clarification from the State about how these mixed messages protect the public.
How much will a toll cost? There is no way to control the cost, or to ensure accessibility to Mainers. According to an inside source, the toll is proposed to cost $75. However, Canadian transports could pay up to $150 for the toll and still save money cutting across Maine. Toll investors are poised to profit handsomely just from that traffic. For all the honey-coated appeals to Maine people, saying this will bring tourism and jobs, that is not the intended purpose. The toll may be exorbitant, and exclude most users other than Canadian truckers, and multinational corporations.
Not for Maine communities, or tourists. In addition to being cost prohibitive, the east-west highway is a limited access throughway from Quebec to the Canadian Maritimes. When questioned about how this road would access Maine communities, Peter Vigue could only name two places along the route: North of Dover Foxcroft, and at Route 201. The exit at Dover Foxcroft allows for containers to be exchanged at Brownville Junction. There is an additional intermodal facility proposed at the Costigan railroad junctions. To reiterate, the road is designed for Canadian transport trucks, then multinational corporations who want to extract raw materials from Maine to export to global markets.
Diminished local economic opportunity, and community vibrancy. Globalization exploits resource-rich communities. Take a broad look at other communities that have been used for raw resource extraction: the Middle East, most of Africa, South America, Haiti… some of the poorest and highest conflict-ridden areas in the world. We see the same equation there: Low cost, raw resource extraction by wealthy private investors to profit in the global market. That economic model only benefits a few, at the expense of the rest. It leaves communities in poverty because they no longer have value in their land to sustain themselves, and in conflict because people are powerless to meet their needs. Do we want Maine to be another colony? By caring for the health of our land, and listening to the people who live on it, we support local economic initiatives, small business, and community vitality.
No public voice + limited state regulation = an environmental and community disaster. This is an entirely private project. There will be no public advocacy. What do people do if any part of this project is unwanted? Like all other private projects, investors will go through a regulatory permitting process for all their intended environmental impacts. Due simply to access to capital, community voices are hushed by big business all the time. Individuals have peanuts compared to corporate coffers. Facing the reality of this power imbalance, deepens our concern over this project. The feasibility study opens the door to one of the most signficant landscape and cultural transformations Maine has ever seen, with no feedback from Mainers. We are facing irreversible impact to the heart of Maine.
Burning even more fossil-fuel – that doesn’t seem right. Globally and nationally, we are running out of oil. To meet our current demand, people are considering dangerous and costly projects like moving Tar Sands oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries. Building another road, that would cause irreversible damage to the environment and local communities, is moving in the wrong direction. It is not a creative or innovative solution, it is exactly the opposite.
We urge the Transportation Committee and Maine Legislature to create a long-term vision that values Maine’s strengths, as opposed to focusing on Maine’s weaknesses. Maine is a treasure with unique and incredibly beautiful ecology. Maine people are creative, hardworking, and passionate. Please listen openly. Let’s build on our strengths, not sell them out.
grassroots organizer, Defending Water for Life in Maine
As a voting resident and person who loves Maine “the way life should be” it has come to my attention that LD 1671, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study of an East-west Highway, is scheduled for a public hearing. As my memory serves, such a road has been under discussion and proposed off and on for approximately 20 years. At this point in time, it seems to be that the Cianbro Corporation wants to move ahead with studies for a project that could prove immensely profitable to them. Cianbro doesn’t have the money for the feasibility study, and as part of their business group, wrote a letter to Legislators asking for an emergency bill (LR2358) to support funding. This entire issue is being rushed through the committee process in the legislature, the legislature which has sworn to represent the interests of the people, not the corporations, of Maine. This has tremendous potential to do terrible damage to the Maine that we, the People, love.
One of my most serious concerns about this highway involves the danger that it poses to our pristine and beautiful state. Passing legislation for a quick feasibility study will not provide sufficient time for a complete Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), therefore will not take into account potential environmental impacts of this highway, particularly with respect to impacts to our water, air and forest wildlands. We have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide or that technology would save us. That is being proved to be a fallacy. I have lived in Maine long enough to note with dismay what has been continuing to happen to our beautiful state. Our natural resources are continuing to be eroded away. This destructive path that has been gradually occurring will be greatly exaccerbated by an East-West highway.
Maine has the highest percentage of forests in the east. It is the reason why Maine is a destination point for tourists who wish to enjoy one of the last remaining unbroken areas of wildlands. This highway would fragment this important resource, not only fragmenting the habitats of endangered species and closing the door to the return of other native, indigenous species, but it would seriously harm those businesses that make their living from promoting hiking, canoeing, white-water rafting, fishing, wildlife watching, bird watching, photography, etc. Touirism will suffer greatly as there are not many tourists who will wish to visit an industrial/commercial wasteland.
Another matter that concerns the vast majority of people in this state is that a feasibility study of the East-West highway as a private toll road should not be funded by taxpayers. It is crazy to expect Maine taxpayers to pay for this private toll road, especially when it was originally presented as not being funded by taxpayers.
This bill is being rushed through to serve the interests of Cianbro, a private corporation, and Canadian businesses looking to cut transportation costs, without looking at the public interest of all Mainers, nor the protection of our natural resources. Will the cutting down of our forests, the selling of our water, the degradation of our air by highway pollutants and being a transport throughway be in the best interest of Maine residents now and in the future?
Unfortunately I am currently out-of-state visiting relatives and consequently am unable to attend the public hearing in person to present my comments and strong opposition to any feasibility study of an East-West highway. Therefore this letter must serve to represent me and my objections. I shall look forward to receiving a response indicating how you plan to take into consideration these important concerns. I have also contacted my own representatives and senators, both in Maine and the U.S., on this critical issue so that they will be aware of this important issue and my strong opposition to it.
Marie Louise Morandi Long Zwicker
P.O. Box 230
149 Sanctuary Way
Sullivan, ME 04664
DEFENDING WATER FOR LIFE IN MAINE
273 Manchester Road
Belgrade, ME 04917
Statement to the Transportation Committee regarding LD1671:
We are OPPOSED to An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study of an East-west Highway
February 14, 2012 State House Room 126, 1pm
Testifying: Chris Buchanan, Belgrade, 207-357-1443
Defending Water for Life in Maine is opposed to LD 1671 for several reasons that we feel are critical to the wellbeing of Maine people and the land we live on.
First, it is unethical and dishonest to use $300,000 of taxpayer money to fund a private project, especially in the face of public cuts to healthcare, education, and social services. As the committee is aware from previous testimony by Senator Doug Thomas, the east-west highway would be a private toll road. Senator Thomas stated multiple times in his sponsorship of this study that it would not be funded by taxpayers, but rather, by private or federal funds. On January 23rd he told the Dover-Foxcroft selectboard that it would not be funded by taxpayers, despite asking for funding from the General Fund. We oppose using public funds for a private project.
Second, we urge the Committee to look into the future and ask what the people of Maine want long term? Considering rising fuel costs associated with less supply and more demand, and the fact that we are facing Peak Oil, we feel it is unwise and irresponsible to support a project that promotes burning fossil fuels to transport goods.
As leaders and representatives of Mainers, sworn to protect our health and welfare, we urge you to focus on alternatives that will benefit Maine people and our local economy. Although it may be beyond the scope of this Committee in a broader sense, as a voice for the people we urge you to support initiatives that would spur local health, like assisting Mainers in creating value-added products, and revitalizing smaller communities. The east-west highway would reduce the health and accessibility of Maine’s environment by burning more fossil fuels, and we would be investing in infrastructure that will become more and more obsolete over time.
In addition to supporting increased fossil fuel consumption in a world running out of fossil fuel and facing climate change, there are many other reasons the east-west highway will not benefit Maine. Its primary use will be as a costly toll road for Canadian transport trucks heading to and from Canadian ports. The toll proposed is $75 to cross Maine. There will be few on and off ramps, other than to refueling stations or rail yards like Brownville Junction. The stated intention is not for tourists or for Mainers. To reiterate, the highway would certainly result in pollution, negative environmental impact, and ongoing decrease of land values. This alone impacts local economic viability, but also reduces Maine’s tourist appeal, a significant source of income for Mainers. The environmental ramifications are huge and need to be considered with much greater detail, but to be brief, the construction of the highway over three major rivers, numerous watersheds, and through unbroken forestlands will irreparably damage this land that is the heart of Maine’s identity.
Fourth, the project will create few jobs, especially in comparison to jobs in social services that are facing cuts. It is a private project that is Cianbro president, Peter Vigue’s brainchild. It will be their project. Cianbro regularly performs huge infrastructure projects all over New England and moves their workforce. We are not looking at new job creation beyond a small number of gas station service jobs. If toll worker jobs are created, they will become obsolete due to automation within the next three years.
Finally and critically, the highway exposes Maine to exploitation of raw resources by multinational corporations that provide few jobs, do not spend their profits in Maine, and do not pay taxes here. Our land is our primary source of stable wealth and welfare. To export raw materials like lumber, bulk water, and gravel is shortsighted and will devastate the future of our home. To create a potential super-corridor for future pipelines, and high voltage transmission lines from industrial wind projects that scar our mountains, would irreversibly define Maine.
Please take a look at our website, where we are compiling as much information that we can on the east-west-highway project: www.defendingwater.net/maine/east-west-highway/
I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.
With most genuine regards,
grassroots organizer, Defending Water for Life in Maine
Defending Water for Life in Maine is a project of the Alliance for Democracy. Our mission is to protect water from commodification or privatization, because water is necessary for life, and should not be used for profit.
 primary source information from a Maine Turnpike Authority employee
In 2007, the World Economic Forum Water Initiative was created to “raise awareness among governments, businesses, and the expert community about the challenge of managing future water needs, and on piloting public-private-expert platforms for reform.” http://www3.weforum.org/docs/IP/MM/Water_Resources_Group_Phase2_4pager.pdf
Out of this initiative came the 2030 Water Resources Group. Formed in 2008, the WRG was sponsored by the International Finance Corporation, a part of the World Bank Group, which “provides investments and advisory services to build the private sector in developing countries.” http://www.2030waterresourcesgroup.com/water_full/Charting_Our_Water_Future_Final.pdf
Then in October 2009, WRG published a landmark report, Charting our Water Future, which analyses the global water supply-demand gap to 2030 and economic options to close the gap. Detailed case studies considered in the report include China, India, South Africa, Mexico and the state of São Paulo in Brazil. http://www.weforum.org/issues/water#note
In short, the mission of this group was not only to analyze water access worldwide, but to create a plan for privatization. Defending Water for Life is extremely concerned about how the worldwide privatization of water services, combined with this international approach to support water commodification, will impact the human right to access water for life, and the rights of communities.
Below is an article by Corporate Accountability International from November 3, 2011, summarizing this monumental attack on the right to water for people, and not for profit:
The World Bank has launched a new partnership with global corporations including Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Veolia. Housed at the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the new venture aspires to “transform the water sector” by inserting the corporate sector into what has historically been a public service. The new partnership is part of a broader trend of industry collusion to influence global water policy.
The venture — called the 2030 Water Resources Group Phase 2 Entity — aligns global corporations that have major financial stakes in water governance with the World Bank, one of the world’s leading development institutions. Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has been appointed to chair the Water Resources Group, which has already received $1.5 million in IFC funding. Nestlé is the world’s largest water bottling corporation.
Advocates for people’s access to water point to this as the latest example of water corporations’ efforts to interfere in legitimate, democratic water governance. The Water Resources Group presents a conflict of interest to the World Bank’s goal of poverty alleviation. It also advances an approach to water governance that is in incompatible with the U.N. recognized human right to water.
‘This is an unmistakably activist campaign by the private water industry to gain funding and credibility for a radical power grab, with the help of the World Bank,’ said Corporate Accountability International’s Senior Organizer Shayda Edwards Naficy. ‘According to the World Bank, 34 percent of private water contracts are in distress or terminated before maturity. Last April, the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman reported that an astounding 40 percent of complaints received from all regions and sectors were water-related. This is evidence that water privatization has been fraught with a range of problems, including broken promises for expanded service, wasted public funds and threats to human rights, especially for the lowest income families. For the Bank to sanction this approach despite a track record of failure points to compromised decision-making at the Bank due to pervasive partnerships with and financial stakes in corporations.’
Currently, 90 percent of the world’s water-users access water through public delivery. Turning these systems over to private corporations would result in rate hikes, cutoffs and significant layoffs of water sector employees. Focusing on the private sector also distracts from the need to support governments in protecting human rights.
The Water Resources Group aims to ‘develop new normative approaches to water management,’ paving the way for an expanded private sector role into best and common practices, worldwide. In order to be eligible for support from this new fund, all projects must “provide for at least one partner from the private sector,” not simply as a charitable funder, but ‘as part of its operations.’ The group’s strategy is to insert the private sector into water management one country at a time, through a combination of industry-funded research and direct partnerships with government agencies. Currently, the Water Resources Group is formally working with the governments of Jordan, Mexico, and the Indian state of Karnataka, and discussions are ongoing with the governments of South Africa, China and several other countries slated for participation in the next phase.
‘Corporate Accountability International has consistently demonstrated the World Bank’s inherent conflicts of interest, acting as an investor, a government advisor, an arbitrator and a public relations vehicle in support of profiteering in the water sector,’ said Naficy. ‘Global water corporations must not be allowed to tap into public ‘development funds’ to promote their private agenda because case after case shows that profitability and fulfillment of human rights in the water sector are at odds.’
Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 34 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights. Through its Campaign Challenging Corporate Control of Water, Corporate Accountability International is playing a leadership role in the global movement to secure the human right to water, and people’s access to water; prevent corporate control of water; preserve and protect water resources and systems for the public good; and preserve water resources as an ecological trust.
link to the article: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/77639
ACCEPTABILITY OF THE DESCHUTES GROUNDWATER MITIGATION PROGRAM
by Eva Lieberherr*
Printed in Ecology Law Quarterly
This is a useful resource on how groundwater is effected by pumping, and an example of groundwater protection.
Skagit County Planning and Development Services, Wash., released a climate change study on the Skagit River Basin. The Climate Impacts Group/University of Washington conducted the study for Envision Skagit 2060. The website includes links to the following:
- Executive Summary
- Basin Overview
- Climate Variability
- Climate Change Scenarios
- Human Systems
- Complete Report
This introduction was created by Food and Water Watch to educate people about water privatization in Maine:
REPORT TO THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
WATER RESOURCES PLANNING COMMITTEE AND THE
CITIZEN TRADE POLICY COMMISSION