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Chris Buchanan’s Testimony in Oppostion of LD 1671

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

chris@defendingwater.net

 

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.[1]  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.[2]  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.[3]  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.[4]

 

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,

Chris Buchanan

grassroots organizer, Defending Water for Life in Maine

(207) 357-1443

chris@defendingwater.net

www.defendingwater.net/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.

 

 


[1] http://bangordailynews.com/2012/01/27/news/piscataquis/state-senator-pitches-east-west-highway-proposal/?ref=latest

[2] http://www.emdc.org/document_upload/CIANBRO%20Presentation.pdf

[4] primary source information from a Maine Turnpike Authority employee

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