Funding of East-West Highway Feasibility Study
Coming up for vote as early as tomorrow, 2/28
Contact your representative today opposing LD 1671
LD 1671, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study for an East-West Highway, has been voted out of the Transportation Committee and is expected on the floor as early as tomorrow, February 27. We need to flood the legislature with e-mails and calls opposing this taxpayer subsidy of private profits at a time the budget is being cut for programs which are critical to the health and welfare of the people of Maine.
Points to make:
- Public money for private profit. Your tax dollars should not be used to fund a financial feasibility study to attract Wall Street investors for a private toll road that will benefit the highway investors and Canadian energy and trucking companies, but not the people of Maine.
- No way to limit the cost to taxpayers. If the study requires more funding than the $300,000 allocated in the bill when the DOT puts the study out to bid, the sponsors will not need to bring it back before the Transportation Committee or the legislature. This means taxpayers are signing a blank check for a private project.
- Not for Maine communities, or tourists. This road will not be accessible to Mainers or tourists for two reasons: 1) The tolls will be controlled by investors and cost prohibitive for most except Canadian transports. 2) The project will only have two interchanges, one north of Dover Foxcroft to allow containers to be exchanged, and one at Route 201.
- Diminished local economic opportunity, and community vibrancy. There has been no discussion of potential environmental impacts of this highway, particularly impacts to Maine’s water and forests if the highway encourages the export of water and wood chips. A financial feasibility study will ignore these impacts. This kind of little to no value-added globalization exploits resource-rich communities like ours. 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. Let’s support local economic initiatives, small business, and community vitality.
- No public voice + limited state regulation = an environmental and community disaster. As a private project, there will be no room for public advocacy on any aspect of it after it leaves the State Legislature. That is a huge infringement on individual rights, and local control. This feasibility study opens the door to one of the most significant landscape and cultural transformations Maine has ever seen, with no feedback from Mainers.
- 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.
- Jobs. A short-lived increase isn’t worth a long depression. The road will depress local land values, decrease tourist appeal, increase pollution that makes the land less viable for farming and other local land use, as well as exploiting the resources that are the foundation of Maine’s value-added sectors.
- A supercorridor for natural gas, and what else? New information that the highway might create a corridor for a natural gas pipeline from Canada’s gas fracking fields in Quebec and New Brunswick to ports in its maritime provinces and for liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to be trucked to the fields to use a new gas fracking technology, adds to the urgency to stop this bill and to conduct a thorough study of what this highway might really entail.
- For those with a Democratic representative, note that the D’s on the Transportation Committee voted no in committee. Thank them and ask them to speak out forcefully on the floor when the bill is brought up. They are:
- Richard Cebra- R 693-6782 RepRich.Cebra@legislature.maine.gov
- Ann Peoples- D 287-1430 RepAnn.Peoples@legislature.maine.gov
For more background go to www.defendingwater.net/maine/east-west-highway/
Thanks for taking action to protect Maine and our precious water.
Chris Buchanan, Organizer, Defending Water for Life in Maine, February 27, 2012