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Takings Bill Testimony from DW4L, LD 1810, 2-21-12

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.[1]  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.[2]  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).”[3] 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.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Buchanan

Defending Water for Life in Maine

chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net

(207) 357-1443

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