The Historical Continuum: WE ARE ALL PARTICIPANTS IN AN AGE-OLD CLASH OF CULTURES

By Maria Girouard – Penobscot historian.

canoe on penobscot, JfR

Panawapskewi (“Penobscot people”) are the indigenous people of this territory, and have nurtured a relationship with and maintained a presence on the Penobscot River for thousands of years. We are an ancient riverine people who have survived enormous losses as a result of colonization – displacement of our ancestors, destruction of our fisheries, degradation of the Water, deforestation of traditional hunting grounds, and disruption in our traditional form of governance.

A Colonial Agreement: In exchange for Penobscot alliance in the revolutionary war, colonial government agreed to protect Penobscot territory from encroachment and to preserve Penobscot aboriginal territory for their perpetual use so that traditional sustenance lifeways could be maintained. (Perpetual: meaning forever, never to be changed). This agreement is recorded in the 1775 Congressional Resolves. Following the war, there was a large war debt.   Abundant Penobscot resources proved too tantalizing to resist.

Treaties were negotiated: Treaties are nation-to-nation agreements negotiated between sovereigns. The Treaty of 1796 and the Treaties of 1818 and 1820, ceded portions of Penobscot territory but the river and the fisheries were never relinquished. Historical records reveal multiple pleas on deaf ears about destruction of the fisheries and decimation of hunting grounds leading to Penobscot starvation.

Treaties were broken: An 1801 petition to colonial government declared, The Penobscots “feel themselves and their Tribe greatly wronged and injured by a Mr. Winslow and his two sons of Portland erecting a sawmill at the Falls in Penobscot … when the government secured to their Tribe and their descendants the aforesaid island with other islands in the Penobscot River with all their natural rights and privileges, the Fishery was esteemed the most important advantage attached to their island and which no individual could deprive them of – they would therefore humbly request your excellent and honor in your wisdom to prevent an Evil so great as would be the total ruin of the tribe.”

In the 1940s, Penobscot Elder Florence Nicola Shay spoke out against the state and broken treaty promises – “The treaties are merely useless pieces of paper today as all promises have been broken… we are a segregated, alienated people and many of us are beginning to feel the weight of the heel that is crushing us to nothingness. We are still in slavery, we are dictated to, and we are made to feel that we do not own our own souls.”

A major turning point in tribal-state history: In the 1970s Penobscot & Passamaquoddy tribes sued the State of Maine for theft of aboriginal territory which had left them displaced and impoverished. The 1794 Trade and Non-Intercourse Act, a federal law aimed at curbing massive land grabs, had been ignored. The law required any and all land transactions with an Indian person or tribe be ratified by Congress. Since Maine had become a state in 1820, no land transactions were ratified; therefore, all were null and void. Following a tumultuous decade riddled with overt racial hostility and fear-mongering played out in the press, the State of Maine, the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy tribes negotiated a settlement agreement resulting in the federal 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. The Settlement Act was intended to stop the further taking of Indian Territory and to strengthen tribal sovereignty and tribal-state relations, but like all agreements that preceded it, it, too, was broken and little was settled.

Territorial takings are not a thing of the past: In August 2012, Penobscot Chief and Council received a letter from state government asserting an Attorney General’s opinion – that the Penobscot Indian Reservation did not include any portion of their ancestral River. An opinion with which Penobscot Nation could never agree. Interestingly, this new opinion was contrary to a previous Attorney General’s opinion (AG James Tierney, 1988) which stated that the Penobscot River was reservation territory (?!)

Penobscot Nation v. Mills, is a current U.S. district court case to protect Penobscot fishing rights. It has a large cast of characters! The Penobscot Nation, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the United States Department of Justice, and 17 intervening towns and industries up and down the River. Until recently, the case had 18 interveners, but on April 1, 2015, in an amazing act of humanity, the Town of Orono filed a motion to withdraw from the case. After deliberation, their town council admitted to knowing very little about how they got involved; they concluded that their participation was unnecessary, and decided that they did not wish to be in contentious litigation against the Penobscots. The remaining interveners are: the City of Brewer, Town of Bucksport, Covanta Maine, LLC, Town of East Millinocket, Great Northern Paper Company, LLC, Guilford-Sangerville Sanitary District, Town of Howland, Kruger Energy (USA) Inc., Town of Lincoln, Lincoln Pulp and Tissue LLC, Lincoln Sanitary District, Town of Mattawamkeag, Town of Millinocket, Red Shield Acquisition LLC, True Textiles, Inc., Veazie Sewer District, and Verso Paper Corp. Led by Pierce Atwood attorney, Matt Manahan, these interveners are asking a judge to determine that the Penobscot reservation does not include any portion of the Water. The U.S. Department of Justice intervened on behalf of the Penobscots, viewing this as an attempted territorial taking by the State of Maine which they have a duty to protect against.

Confusing an already complex issue: Happening alongside Penobscot Nation v Mills, is a battle between the State and the federal Environmental Protection Agency over water quality in Indian Territory. Last summer, the State of Maine sued the EPA demanding jurisdiction over water quality in Indian Territory. In February 2015, the EPA agreed that according to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, the State of Maine did in fact have jurisdiction over water quality, but since Penobscots retained an inherent right to sustenance fish, the water quality in their reservation had to be sufficient to safely consume fish. The State has again sued the EPA and stated that they have no intention of complying with the order to clean up the Penobscot.

Gaining Support: Penobscot Nation has gained thousands of allies but could use more! This case has gained the interest and support of numerous social justice and environmental organizations who agree that Maine must cease and desist its aggression. Maine priorities should be elsewhere – not in continued territorial takings and suing for the right to pollute. Together, we are writing our Grandchildren’s history (and protecting their Drink). Let’s make it a history that will make both them and the ancestors proud!

Let your voices be heard: Call on our state to stop its hostilities and respect tribal fishing rights.

  • Attorney General Janet T. Mills, 6 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333
  • Governor Paul LePage, Office of the Governor, #1 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
  • Find (and write!) your legislators at http://legislature.maine.gov/

 

 

 

 

“The Penobscots believe that the God of Nature gave them their fisheries, and no man alive has the right to take that away from them…” (historical petition to Massachusetts Colonial Government)

Somerset Economic Development Council prioritizes East-West Highway in plan

In its plan prepared by Eaton-Peabody consulting group, the Somerset Economic Development Council lists, “pursue East-West Highway” as one of its 14 regional priorities.

http://www.somersetcountymaine.org/SEDCExecSummary.pdf

Stop the East-West Corridor and Defending Water for Life are calling on Somerset County residents to write letters in local papers, as well as step forward to inform the SEDC about the facts available about the Corridor, and share their opinions.

SEDC, along with all of the federally designated economic development zones in Maine, has been infiltrated by a for-profit group called “Mobilize Maine” that seeks to use federal grants to privatize economic planning and development, and provides incentives of regional economic planning influence to investors.  To learn more, search our other articles on Mobilize Maine or visit, www.mobilizemaine.org.

 

Alliance for Common Good hosts 3rd Annual Rally of Unity

A tremendous showing for community and tribal sovereignty, and water protection

Augusta – Over a hundred Maine citizens and representatives from dozens of organizations joined forces at the State House’s Hall of Flags for the third annual Rally of Unity. The overarching theme for this year’s rally was protection of our water resources and respect for community and tribal sovereignty. Featured speakers included Shenna Bellows, former candidate for U.S. Senate and former Maine Senator Troy Jackson.

Other speakers shared the podium addressing concerns around the critical need to protect water in Maine. With many potentially destructive plans looming in Maine, such as extreme water extraction/privatization, mountain-top mining and the exorbitant waste it produces, the East-West Industrial Corridor and pipeline, industrial wind, and more, organizations came together to speak in a unified voice informing Maine legislators what Mainers expect from their service. A current critical issue between the Penobscot Nation and the State of Maine government was one of the topics at this year’s rally.

“Sadly, Penobscot people are anxiously awaiting the fate of our river,” said Maria Girouard, Penobscot tribal member and founder of Dawnland Environmental Defense. In Augusta 2012, state government asserted its opinion to Penobscot Chief and Council that the Penobscot Indian reservation did not include the water. The Penobscot Indian reservation consists of over 200 islands in the Penobscot River. “Frankly, this redefining of our territory feels outright hostile. Maine government is supposed to be working for all Maine people, yet most people have no idea that this is happening. This current legal battle has the potential to last years and cost millions of tax payer dollars. What I would like to know is why Maine government is asserting its claim to the water? And on whose behalf?”

Larry Dansinger of Resources for Organizing Social Change and an organizer for this year’s rally said, “The Maine legislature has been passing too many bills that benefit the one percent and hurt 99 percent of Mainers. The public needs to demand laws that benefit the vast majority of Maine people, not just a select and powerful few.”

All individuals and groups participating in this third annual event are unified under the principles of: Reserving Maine money for Maine people; keeping money out of politics; respecting community and tribal sovereignty; and promoting an economy that protects, rather than compromises, our environment. In addition to speakers and songs, the rally hosted organization tabling and provided opportunity for networking and alliance building.

Alliance for the Common Good Members include: 350 Maine, 350 Waldo County, Ability Maine, Alliance for Democracy, American Friends Service Committee Wabanaki Program, Americans Who Tell the Truth, Artists Rapid Response Team, Bring our War $$ Home, CodePink, Community Water Justice, Dawnland Environmental Defense/ Justice for the River, Defending Water for Life, Don’t Waste ME, Food AND Medicine, Food and Water Watch, Food for Maine’s Future, Forest Ecology Network, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Friends of Penobscot Bay, Friends of the Piscataquis Valley, Global Network, Green Initiatives, anti-Industrial wind activists, Maine EarthFirst!, Maine Fair Trade Campaign, Maine Greens, Maine Peace Action Committee, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, Maine Students for Climate Justice, Maine Veterans for Peace, Midcoast Peace and Justice, Occupy groups statewide, Pax Christi Maine, Peace Action Maine, Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick/ Waging Peace, Peninsula Peace and Justice, Pine Tree Youth Organizing, Power in Community Alliances (PICA)/ U.S. El Salvador Sister Cities Committee, Resources for Organizing Social Change, Riverbilly Coalition for Natural Resources Preservation, SEEDS for Justice, Southern Maine Workers Center, Stop the East-West Corridor, TWAC (Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp), We the People Maine.

Here is WABI-5 news coverage of the event.

Here is a video of the full event.

Here are pictures from the event by the Maine Paparazzi, Roger Leisner.

Lastly, here is an independent article published in The Cryer by Lew Kingsbury:

The Most Successful Statehouse Event You Never Heard Of

In Maine, More Hipsters Choosing Life on the Farm

LINCOLNVILLE, Maine – The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 – a number that’s been steadily ticking upward for more than 30 years.

The graying of America’s heartland is one indicator that farming isn’t a go-to career: Fewer kids are choosing a life on the land. But in some places, like Maine, the trend may be reversing.

Thanks to an availability of land and a cultural shift toward slow foods, hipsters are giving farming more than a passing glance.

It’s 10 degrees. The snow is crunching underfoot on this windy hillside in Lincolnville, just a few miles from the coast.  A trio of hairy highland cattle munch on flakes of hay, seemingly impervious to the bitter wind.  Nearby, a native breed of white sheep known as the Katahdin, are mustered just outside the fence. Heritage chickens scuttle about a mobile poultry house that looks a bit like a Conestoga wagon. Josh Gerritsen, a New York City photographer-turned-farmer, has created a small, agrarian ecosystem.

“The cows move through the pasture first,” he says. “They take the grass height from maybe 8 inches down to 4 inches. The sheep follow two days later, and then after that, the laying hens come in.  They spread out the cow patties, they clean up the parasites, and they get additional protein from the bugs.”

Gerritsen’s classic backyard farm supplies a small, loyal consumer base. He says his generation has found a niche market that doesn’t have to compete with agribusiness in the supermarket. It’s a hipster generation whose outlook has been shaped by the backdrop of climate change, who’ve come to embrace facial hair, the farmers’ market, craft beer, and artisan cheeses.

The focus, Gerritsen says, is on locally-produced goods of superior quality.  But it’s not a particularly easy or lucrative life. So why cash in an expensive college education to raise poultry?

“Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,” says Marya Gelvosa, Gerritsen’s partner. She’s 29, majored in English literature, and had never lived in the country before. But she and Gerritsen have thrown all their resources into this fledgling farm in Maine, a career move which came as something of a surprise to her urban family.

“They definitely had their raised eyebrows, like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” she says. “Because, I mean, I grew up in the city. It’s just, I got the bug and I wanted to have this life where it gives back to the community and it’s very fulfilling work. And noble work.”

“I think that we want to be reconnected with the fundamentals of life,” Gerritsen says, “with growing food, with producing things with our own hands. Living in the city, you commute by subway, you buy your food at the supermarket, you work in a cubicle all day. You’re not intimately tied to anything.”

But how typical is this young couple in the farming landscape? It turns out, pretty typical for some areas of the country, not so typical for others, says John Rebar, executive director of University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

“Certainly in Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased 40 percent, when nationally that increase is 1.5 percent,” Rebar says. “So, in our state, we are way ahead of that national trend.”

And there may be several reasons why, he says. A big one is that relatively undeveloped states like Maine still have affordable land to offer – a luxury not seen in many other parts of the country. Farmland has become so expensive across the the Midwestern breadbasket, and in California’s Central Valley, that some financial experts have hinted at an actual “farmland bubble.”

And, says Rebar, Maine, which was a hotbed of activity during the first back-to-the-land movement in the 70’s, has many knowledgeable people working in the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, or MOFGA, which offers a training program for new farmers in how to do it old school in a new age.

“I think one big difference is a lot of the young people that are going into farming now are going into it looking at it very much as a profession, rather than a home-steading, self-sufficiency type of thing,” says 31-year-old Gene Ripley of Dover-Foxcroft.

Ripley’s parents were part of that earlier back-to-the-land movement, but even he didn’t consider farming as a career until a college trip to Thailand, where he visited a rice farm and realized that, not only could he live the good life, but he could help others live it as well.  Now, he and his wife Mary Margaret have put their political science educations from Bates College in Lewiston aside.

“We just finished our fifth season here on this farm, and it’s our sixth season farming on our own,” Gene says. “We farmed on leased land in Waldo County for one year before we found a property to buy.”

Jennifer Mitchell: “How many acres?”

“We have up there about five acres in production,” says Mary Margaret. “And so that includes the cash crops and the cover crops. And we did about two-and-a-half acres of cash crops this year.”

“We are getting to the point where demand is outstripping our supply,” Gene says, “and so this year we cleared a one-acre section of woods right here. And just last week, which is really exciting, we just hired our first full-time employee who is going to be starting in the spring.”

John Rebar, with Cooperative Extension, says that’s an accomplishment that should not be overlooked. If young farmers like the Ripleys can become successful in a 21st century economy, they’ll also become employers, and that’s especially important in places like Piscataquis County, which has seen its mill industry gutted.

There’s no doubt in Rebar’s mind that there is an agrarian Renaissance happening.

“I was called farmer by my classmates in high school. That was OK with me, but you could tell it wasn’t a term of endearment,” Rebar says.

But there’s been a cultural shift in attitude, he says. People are starting to understand the value of farms, the products they produce, and the role farms can play. Long-term success, he says, will come as people embrace the culture and support this new generation of producers.

And meanwhile? The hipsters are making it all look pretty cool.

Series of 3rd party reports blast PPP, toll roads, and dishonest investment projections

The following investigative articles by Angie Schmitt and Payton Chung were published between November 19, 2014 and November 25, 2014 on the Steetsblog Network:

The Indiana Toll Road and the Dark Side of Privately Financed Highways

How Macquarie Makes Money By Losing Money on Toll Roads

The Great Traffic Projection Swindle

Toll Roads Increasingly Put Taxpayers at Risk

The Indiana Toll Road and the Dark Side of Privately Financed Highways

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | by  and  | Streetsblog USA

Link to Original Article.

This is the first post in a three-part series on the Indiana Toll Road and the use of private finance to build and maintain highways. Part two takes a closer look at how Australian firm Macquarie manages its infrastructure assets. Part three examines the incentives for consultants to exaggerate traffic projections, making terrible boondoggles look like financial winners.

 

Who owns the Indiana Toll Road? Well, as of the bankruptcy filing in September, Macquarie Atlas Roads Limited (MQA Australia), which is joined at the hip to Macquarie Atlas Roads International Limited (MQA Bermuda) on the Australian stock exchange, has a 25 percent stake. Macquarie’s investment bank arm brokers the various transactions related to ownership of the road, collecting fees on each one. Welcome to the world of privately financed infrastructure. Graphic: Macquarie prospectus

 

In September, the operator of the Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy, eight years after inking a $3.8 billion, 75-year concession for the road with the administration of Governor Mitch Daniels.

The implications of the bankruptcy for the financial industry were large enough that ratings agency Standard & Poor’s stepped in immediately to calm nerves. In a press release, the company attempted to distinguish the Indiana venture from similar projects, known as public-private partnerships, or P3s: “We do not believe this bankruptcy will slow the growth of current-generation transportation P3 projects, which have different risk characteristics.”

But the similarities between the Indiana Toll Road and other P3s involving private finance can’t be ignored. And as we’ll see, even the differences aren’t all good news for the American public. Once hailed as the model for a new age of U.S. infrastructure, today the Indiana deal looks more like a canary in a coal mine.

At a time when government and Wall Street are raring to team up on privately financed infrastructure, a look at the Indiana Toll Road reveals several of the red flags to beware in all such deals: an opaque agreement based on proprietary information the public cannot access; a profit-making strategy by the private financier that relies on securitization and fees, divorced from the actual infrastructure product or service; and faulty assumptions underpinning the initial investment, which can incur huge public expense down the line. Though made in the name of innovation and efficiency, private finance deals are often more expensive than conventional bonding, threatening to suck money from taxpayers while propping up infrastructure projects that should never get built.

For the parties who put these deals together, however, the marriage of private finance and public roads is incredibly convenient. Investors are increasingly impatient with record-low returns on conventional bonds, and are turning to infrastructure as an asset class that promises stable, inflation-protected returns over the long run.

Meanwhile, governments are eager to fix decaying infrastructure — but without raising taxes or increasing their capacity to borrow. On the occasion of yet another meeting intended to drum up investor interest, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently wrote on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s blog: “With public investments in our nation’s important transportation assets steadily declining, we need to find better ways to partner with private investors to help rebuild America.”

Those investors are lining up to get in the infrastructure game. According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 40 percent of new urban highways in America were built using the private finance model between 1996 and 2006. Since 2008, that figure has jumped to almost 70 percent.

In an attempt to get even more deals done, the current federal transportation bill ramped up funding for the TIFIA program — which offers subsidized federal loans and other credit assistance, often to projects that also receive private backing — by a factor of eight.

Major private investors have stepped up their lobbying efforts to close more of these lucrative deals. Meridiam North America recently hired Ray LaHood, Foxx’s predecessor as Transportation Secretary, and Macquarie Group — which orchestrated the Indiana fiasco — hired away a White House deputy assistant to “continue strengthening our relationships with key elected officials… while also exploring new investment opportunities.”

 

 

From a PricewaterhouseCoopers report advising readers "how to become a player in the P3 (public-private-partnership infrastructure) market."

 

In the midst of all this excitement about an “emerging market” in privately-financed American road-building comes the big failure of the Indiana Toll Road. In the news cycle following the bankruptcy, pundits praisedformer Indiana governor Mitch Daniels for deftly negotiating the deal. Many experts seem to think that the state of Indiana will almost entirely be shielded from the fallout of this bankruptcy, since it already received its payout and retained the right to set the road’s tolls and enforce its maintenance standards. (That is often not the case in these kinds of deals. Note how Standard and Poor’s says that newer infrastructure deals have “different risk characteristics” — that is, more of the risk falls on the public, something we’ll discuss in the third installment in this series.)

At the time of its sale in 2006, the Indiana Toll Road was the largest infrastructure privatization deal in U.S. history. Investors paid $3.8 billion for the right to operate and collect tolls on the 156-mile road for 75 years. The winning bid raised eyebrows. Sure, the road is heavily traveled by cross-country trucks, but the price was twice what state officials had expected the road to fetch, and $1 billion more than any other group had bid.

But if Indiana did manage to put one over on the financier-owners, Australian firm Macquarie and Spanish firm Ferrovial, as some suggest, those owners don’t seem to be too worried. For Macquarie, an investment bank and financial services firm with almost $400 billion under management, the loss hardly even registered as a blip in its share price:

 

Image via Google

 

Under the terms of the bankruptcy deal approved last month, ITR Concession Co. LLC – the company Macquarie and Ferrovial formed – will either be sold at auction, with proceeds distributed among its creditors, or those creditors will themselves buy a 95.75 percent stake in the restructured company, thanks to a fresh $2.75 billion round of borrowing. ITR began its life as a P3 with $3 billion in bank debt, and ITR’s second incarnation could get up and running with $2.75 billion in debt — not exactly a fresh start.

Bloomberg, The Hill, Reuters and the other outlets covering this story all pinned the downfall of ITR on both a risky financing scheme and on faulty traffic projections. Most sources shrugged off the faulty traffic projections as an artifact of the recession, not as part of a longer-term, more permanent shift in driving behavior that has been widely documented.

Whatever the cause, the Indiana Toll Road’s traffic projections were indeed very, very wrong. Although the actual projections contained in the signed contract are proprietary and shielded from public view, the state of Indiana released an analysis they conducted prior to the sale [PDF] showing expected increases amounting to 22 percent every seven years. What actually occurred after ITR took over the lease in 2006 was closer to the inverse: traffic declined more than 11 percent.

But even if traffic levels had met the projections, that would not have been enough to save ITR. As Toll Roads News pointed out, predicted traffic growth plus profit-maximizing toll rates still couldn’t have balanced the books:

They’d still only have toll revenues of $245m. And with interest payments to be made to borrowers of $268m they’d still be losing money.

So in addition to faulty traffic projections, ITR relied on a risky financing scheme that inflated its costs.

Media outlets also noted that the ITR bankruptcy was just the latest and largest in a crop of privately owned tollway failures that now litter the land. In recent years, other privately financed toll roads that have filed for bankruptcy protection have included San Diego’s South Bay Expressway (also owned by Macquarie and the first project to receive federal TIFIA funds), South Carolina’s Southern Connector, and the Alabama and Detroit roads owned by American Roads. Many more are limping along and may well end up bankrupt, like SH-130 outside Austin or the Northwest Parkway between Denver and Boulder.

Bankruptcy or default won’t necessarily eliminate the risk of a public bailout. The 12-year-old Pocahontas Parkway outside Richmond has now failed twice, largely because projected sprawl in its vicinity just never materialized. (Instead, Richmond’s core is booming, as in other metro areas.) Since TIFIA loans account for one-fourth of Pocahontas’ debt, taxpayers will eventually take a hit if the road continues to miss its payments.

Who is Macquarie, and why did it pay so much to run this Indiana highway? What can we learn about private finance in the infrastructure industry by taking a closer look at how Macquarie handled the Indiana Toll Road?

And then, why were traffic projections so far off base in this case? There’s a lot of evidence that engineering firms like Wilbur Smith (now CDM Smith), which produced the faulty forecasts for the ITR, have incentives to inflate traffic projections.

We’ll dig into these questions in the next posts in this series:

Angie Schmitt is a newspaper reporter-turned planner/advocate who manages the Streetsblog Network from glamorous Cleveland, Ohio. She also writes about urban issues particular to the industrial Midwest at Rustwire.com.

Governor LePage Signs Agreement with New Brunswick Premier

July 21, 2014

Link to Original Press Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 21, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage signed a memorandum of agreement today with Premier David Alward of New Brunswick to encourage economic development and support job creation between Maine and the Canadian Province.

The agreement, also referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding, is designed to strengthen relations between the two regions by working together to create jobs and cooperate areas of trade development, tourism, transportation, energy, culture and emergency preparedness.

“We are pleased to continue our strong working relationship with New Brunswick,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We have a history of cooperating with each other, and this agreement further strengthens our commitment to regional efforts that will create economic development, improve government efficiencies and promote tourism and commerce between our state and the province.”

Governor LePage has met with New Brunswick Premier David Alward several times since 2011 to discuss economic opportunities between Maine and the Canadian Province. This is the first time such an agreement has been signed with New Brunswick. A New Brunswick-Maine Joint Committee will be responsible for implementing the agreement.

“Our government is proud to continue working with the State of Maine. This agreement will improve the quality of life in the entire region”, stated Premier Alward. “This complements several other initiatives already underway in our province. Whether it’s through increasing tourism, improving emergency management services, or strengthening the regions infrastructure, our joint efforts are vital to social and economic growth”, added Alward.

The agreement encourages Maine and New Brunswick to coordinate with their business communities to set up partnerships and implement economic development initiatives. The agreement also encourages an exchange of cross-border solutions for clean energy, such as hydropower and bioenergy, which could lower home heating costs for the people of Maine.

In April 2013, Governor LePage signed a similar agreement with Premier of Quebec Pauline Marois.

 

Indigenous People in “Maine” are under attack by the State

The indigenous peoples who have lived in what is now called “Maine” for over 10,000 years, are under attack by the State of Maine.  The fishing rights of the Passamaquoddy and the Penobscots, and agreements recognizing the tribes as sovereign nations, are being attacked or denied by lawmakers in the Maine State Legislature, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho.  This is what genocide looks like today.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the land and waters that the tribes use for sustenance, and the foundation of their identities, is still being eyed for various types of development, and polluting discharge.  Briefly, the Passamaquoddy and the State of Maine are at loggerheads because the state refuses to acknowledge the Passamaquoddy’s inherent right to manage their ancient fisheries.  The Penobscot Nation is surrounded by threats, including: a new solid waste facility proposed by MRC to sit on a freshwater aquifer and wetland that is the source of freshwater for the Indian Island reservation, as well as the traditional hunting and fishing grounds for the tribe; the East-West Corridor that threatens to cross the Penobscot River just north of Indian Island; the Old Town Fuel and Fiber mill located South of Indian Island and sits directly on the Penobscot River, which recently requested a change in the air emissions, essentially legalizing the toxic air emissions that they are dumping into the environment; the denial of the Penobscot River as their territory; and the worn out railroad tracks that run right along the East side of the Penobscot River, carrying explosive Baaken Crude oil from North Dakota.  A train derailed last year in Mattawamkeag, miraculously spilling just a few gallons of oil.

In a multi-tiered approach, the State of Maine is refusing to acknowledge the tribes sovereignty, forcing these indigenous people to be wards of the State, which they clearly are not.  Last week, Attorney General Mills and DEP Commissioner Aho sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency for acknowledging the sovereignty of our First Nation’s people, accusing the EPA of not being consistent in its application of the Clean Water Act, and seeking clarity about jurisdiction over Maine’s waters.  There are several articles about this available:

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/08/politics/maine-sues-epa-over-jurisdiction-of-water-quality-standards-in-indian-territories/

http://news.mpbn.net/post/maine-sues-epa-over-water-quality-assessments-tribal-lands

http://www.law360.com/articles/555064/maine-sues-epa-over-control-of-state-s-tribal-waters

Also last week, the Maine Indian and Tribal State Commission (MITSC) released a report that found that the Maine legislature erred in passing laws on tribal fishing rights that were outside of the State’s jurisdiction.  Here is the report, and here is the article about the release.

When will the genocide of indigenous people end?  We are witnessing the genocide of people, right here, right now.  Please act, however you can!

If you are interested in becoming involved with other people who want to help, please contact the author by emailing: chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net