COURT RESCHEDULED! Maine’s Groundwater: Day of Reckoning NOW March 1, 2016

Update: COURT RESCHEDULED FOR MARCH 1 

MAINE’S GROUNDWATER: Day of Reckoning on March 1, 2016. Come bear witness – this is it!

The Maine Supreme Court will be hearing final oral arguments at the Cumberland County Courthouse (205 Newbury St Portland, ME 04101) regarding the 45 year contract between Nestlé and the Fryeburg Water Company on Tuesday March 1 at 1:30pm. Be sure to arrive early as you will have to pass through security to enter the courtroom.Over 3 years ago, in August 2012, it came to light that Nestlé (for their Poland Spring brand) was pursuing a precedent setting ’45 year’ exclusive contract with the Fryeburg Water Company (FWC). The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) commanded this case with conflict-of-interest commissioners at the helm. Our community did not get adequate administrative relief in this case. Ultimately, after a long struggle, the MPUC approved the case but is not yet final because we filed this appeal.If this appeal fails, Nestlé will have unfettered access to our community’s groundwater, which gives this multinational corporation an upper-hand over our life-giving resource for decades to come. ALL OF MAINE is at risk. We do not have adequate groundwater laws protecting us from bulk water mining which entitles Nestlé to exploit and compromise our resources. This is especially concerning with new international trade agreements being considered as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that would affect us.Please come to the courthouse and join us in observation of the process to which our water rights in Maine may be encroached upon by a global water predator… however, NOT WITH OUR CONSENT!!
A lot can happen in 45 years. With prolonged drought and other meteorologic conditions due to a changing climate, the inevitable changes in the water market or with the sustainability / quality of the water supply, we have great concern. Such predatory features of this contract have great potential to harm the local rate payers, the FWC and all others depending on the aquifer to sustain themselves.
Here are some examples of (though not limited to) some facts of the contract under appeal:CONTRACT FACT: The length is for 20 years, with option for 5, 5-year extensions for a total of 45 years with NO public input. There is no process outlined in granting the extensions.CONTRACT FACT: The annual MINIMUM extraction is 75 million gallons. There is no upper limit in the terms.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé can terminate this contract in 2 years while the Fryeburg Water Company must give 5 years notice.
Consider: Imbalanced; giving advantage to the more powerful party.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé’s bulk extraction can not be reduced or suspended for “no greater duration and to no greater extent, than what Fryeburg Water Company suspends or reduces its water sales to (local) commercial and industrial customers”.
CONSIDER While Nestlé can easily extract water from its other worldwide sources, where will Fryeburg’s businesses get their water? This deal grossly favors Nestlé, which does not reside locally, over the local businesses the Fryeburg Water Company is supposed to serve.

CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé will pay the same tariff rates as the local customers. Additionally, they are on a prorated pay scale – the more they pump, the less they pay per unit.
CONSIDER: Nestlé gets its water from all of well #1 and most of well #2. These wells are designated “spring water”. The local rate payers can get some water from well #2, and all of well #3. Well #3 is not designated as spring water and is near old industrial sites. There is obvious economic value to spring water and Nestlé has to receive significant value from advertising and using this asset. The local rate payers are subject to the same rate scale, but don’t get valuable “spring water”. For example, if a micro brewery wanted to start up in Fryeburg it could not gain the economic benefit of advertising that it brewed with “spring water” but it would be subject to the same rate structure as Nestlé.
(*The public advocate made the point that under the new payment structure Nestlé would be paying only $1.00 per thousand gallons, half of what they were previously paying).

CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé is the only allowed purchaser of bulk water in the proposed contract.
CONSIDER: By being tied to Nestlé for 45 years, the FWC has lost a very valuable competitive advantage. In most other states water is becoming scarcer which the FWC could use to its advantage in negotiating bulk water sales with other large purchasers.

CONTRACT FACT: It permits Nestlé to locate a new water source for the town of Fryeburg off it’s own aquifer.
CONSIDER: How will that affect the rates and infrastructure maintenance in the future if we have to move the town to a different aquifer? Why should Nestlé be permitted to over-pump so that we no longer have access to our own aquifer? Is this not legalized theft of our water resources?

Our water commons need protection and not exploitation.
We need our life-giving resources under a public trust to never be privatized.

Thank you. Please pass this on to spread the word.
With questions or to get involved, contact Nickie: nickiesekera(at)gmail(dot)com

Sunlight Media Collective Releases Documentary on the Battle Over Contested Penobscot River Territory

Indian Island, ME: On Friday, Sunlight Media Collective released

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The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory,

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a documentary film that explores the conflict between the state of Maine and the Penobscot Nation over contested river territory. Spanning from the 1700’s to the present-day legal battle of Penobscot Nation v. Mills, the film illustrates the Penobscots’ centuries-long fight to retain their territory and their inherent, treaty-reserved sustenance fishing rights for future generations. Featuring first-person accounts, the film tells the urgent, inspiring story of a struggle for justice and cultural survival in the face of an astonishingly open abuse of state power.

The documentary release closely follows a meeting between Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis and President Obama, where they discussed the Penobscot Nation v. Mills case. The Penobscot Nation is suing the state of Maine in response to a decision by former Attorney General William Schneider that the Penobscot Indian reservation, which includes more than 200 islands in the Penobscot River, does not include any portion of the water— a decision that amounts to territorial theft by the state. Oral arguments for the case are scheduled for October 14th at the US District Court in Portland, ME.

 

The case is taking place in the context of a larger state battle over river jurisdiction and water quality standards. In February, the federal EPA ruled that Maine must improve its water quality standards to protect Penobscot sustenance fishing rights. Governor Paul LePage has called the ruling “outrageous” and threatened to relinquish state regulatory responsibilities to the federal EPA if they did not reverse the ruling.

 

The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory chronicles the Penobscot’s struggle to maintain their centuries-long stewardship to ensure a healthy ecosystem for all of Maine, a struggle exemplified by these contemporary legal battles. According to Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis, the Penobscot v. Mills case “is really not about controlling the river system, or controlling individuals within the system. It’s really about our ability to manage a subsistence resource that we have a responsibility for, for multiple generations.”

 

Funded by Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory is available for free on the Sunlight Media Collective website (www.sunlightmediacollective.org), and DVDs are available by order. To schedule a screening, please email sunlightmediacollective@gmail.com.

 

The Sunlight Media Collective is a collaboration between Penobscot and non-native filmmakers. The film is just one example of an up-swell of activism and work on issues affecting the Wabanaki tribes. In October, Upstander Productions will also release a short documentary entitled First Light, on the recently completed Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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Screenings of The Penobscot: Ancestral River, Contested Territory currently scheduled:

October 21st, Belfast Free Library, Belfast, 6:00PM

October 24th, Gates Auditorium, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, 1:30PM

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For more information, contact sunlightmediacollective@gmail.com.

 

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Flotilla on Penobscot River to Support Tribal Territory and Rights

flotilla 5-23-15

On May 23, 2015, people converged on the Penobscot River in Bangor to show their support of the Penobscot Nation’s rights over its ancestral territory- the waters of the Penobscot River.  The State of Maine issued a letter to the tribe in 2012, redefining the Penobscot’s territory to NOT include the River itself, a direct departure from historical treaties and previous interpretation of treaties and the Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980 by the State of Maine.

Around 150 people were present in boats or on shore to demonstrate their support.  Following is a video, news coverage, and photos of the event:

WABI-TV 5

BDN

3 minute video by Sass Linneken

photos by the Maine Paparazzi (including photo above)

New bills to preserve State control over transportation development, and eminent domain

Op-Ed by Chris Buchanan | March 25, 2015

The proposed East-West Transportation, Communications, and Utilities Corridor has raised important public policy questions regarding the state’s transportation policy. Two bills have been introduced by our Maine legislators to ensure the proper role for the state in transportation planning, maintenance, and development, without increasing regulations or stymying infrastructure that is desired by local people. The bills would create an equal playing field for all significant transportation proposals that may utilize the Public-Private-Partnership law.

LD506, An Act to Improve Public-Private Transportation Partnerships, introduced by Rep. Ralph Chapman (D-Brooksville) and cosponsored by Senator Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis), will be heard by the Transportation Committee on Thursday, March 26. The bill’s summary states:“This bill changes the law governing public-private partnerships to develop transportation facilities by removing the Department of Transportation’s authority to receive unsolicited proposals and to limit those proposals solicited by the department to those in accordance with the Sensible Transportation Policy Act.”

LR 373, An Act to Prohibit the Delegation of Eminent Domain Power to Private Entities sponsored by Sen. Paul Davis prevents eminent domain from being used by a private entity for transportation projects, or in certain Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) on behalf of a private entity.

The need for state legislation has been clearly demonstrated by the actions taken by local communities to enact local laws designed to protect their community from the proposed East-West Corridor when adequate state policy has been lacking. Eight communities have passed a local ordinance, be it a moratorium, referendum, local-self governance, or land use ordinance. These communities so far include: Abbot, Charleston, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Garland, Monson, Parkman, and Sangerville.

In addition, local people of all political persuasions have formed groups in opposition to the proposed Corridor. One such group started by Grandmothers from Charleston, “Grandmothers against the East-West Corridor,” get together every fourth Friday to lead a silent vigil in front of Cianbro’s Pittsfield headquarters. All this is telling how many people feel threatened and left vulnerable by Maine’s existing state laws.

Over the past three years, Stop the East-West Corridor has focused on developing resources, advocating for transparency, and supporting decentralized local resistance to the proposed East-West Corridor. We are all Maine residents working together to help support people with a variety of concerns, who are still unable to find answers to their questions from private or public officials. We appreciate that our state legislators are sponsoring these bills in response.

It is time for the state to ensure that we don’t have any more unfounded proposals which waste taxpayers time, money, and resources the way the East-West Corridor is. The bills introduced by Senator Davis and Representative Chapman go a long way to address this problem and deserve the support of all the people of Maine.

Although Cianbro has been mostly quiet about its progress, Cianbro President and COO Andi Vigue voiced continued support and commitment to the Corridor in a WABI-TV 5 news broadcast on June 16, 2014, and Maine Magazine published a feature piece in the May 2014 issue with a photo of Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue in Wesley where the Corridor would “cross Route 9”. Like an inexplicable dark cloud on the horizon that never goes away, the Corridor proposal lingers.

The fact that the East-West Corridor is not in the public’s best interest was well documented by the state in its 1999 Feasibility Studies of an East-West Highway. These studies explored environmental impacts and socio economic impacts of a new-build public toll highway from Calais to Coburn Gore, along with several other options. In the end, the state concluded that the new build option would create the most environmental impact, would not significantly increase manufacturing, would not stop out-migration of population, and was likely to create a negative bypass effect on rural downtowns, especially in Washington County that is primarily served by East-West roads.

The pricetag for construction at that time was $1.2 billion, although the total costs, incorporating all these factors and not just money, were estimated at $439,239 in 2015 and $229,691 in 2030 per job created. Therefore, the state concluded that the costs outweighed the benefits. In other words, there was an overall negative economic impact of that new build public toll highway. Instead, the state decided to improve Routes 9 and 2, a plan that the MDOT is still pursuing.

Why then are we still having to mobilize against this ill-conceived proposal for the East-West Corridor? It is time for reasonable state laws that prioritize the public interest in planning state transportation infrastructure.

Chris Buchanan is the Statewide Coordinator of STEWC and Maine Coordinator of Defending Water for Life, and lives in Belgrade. More info at www.stopthecorridor.org

Template Organizational Outreach letter LD 506 & LR 373

Dear [organization / municipality],

Stop the East-West Corridor (STEWC) is advocating for two bills this legislative session that we hope you will consider supporting:

LD 506, An Act to Improve Public Private Partnerships , sponsored by Rep. Ralph Chapman (D-Brooksville), cosponsored by Sen. Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis), Public Hearing Scheduled for Thursday, March 26 at 1pm in State House Room 126; and,

LR 373, An Act to Prohibit the Delegation of Eminent Domain Power to Private Entities, sponsored by Sen. Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis)*.

*(Note: LR 373 is still a preliminary bill number. You will not be able to find information online about LR 373 until we receive the final LD number, which we will share with you as soon as we receive it.)

Enclosed are our talking points on both bills for your consideration, as well as detailed information for supporting LD 506.

Over the past three years STEWC has focused on developing resources, advocating for transparency, and supporting a statewide coalition of decentralized local resistance to the proposed East-West Corridor. We help support people with a tremendous variety of concerns, who are still unable to find answers to their questions from private or public officials. Challenges presented by the Corridor taught us about critical shortcomings in Maine’s State laws.

LD 506 and LR 373 improve public policy by addressing problematic loopholes. The bills provide tools for dealing with unwanted transportation development in Maine, without stymying infrastructure that is desired by local people, by prioritizing the public’s best interest in transportation planning, maintenance, and development:

LD 506 eliminates unsolicited proposals from the Public-Private-Partnership for Transportation Projects Law , and explicitly states that transportation PPPs follow the Sensible Transportation Policy Act ;

LR 373 prevents eminent domain from being used by a private entity, or in certain Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) on behalf of a private entity, by amending the Public-Private-Partnership for Transportation Projects Law , and the law that restricts eminent domain use .

To develop a degree of protection from the Corridor, eight communities have overwhelmingly passed some form of local ordinance, be it a moratorium, referendum, local-self governance, or land use ordinance. These communities so far include: Abbot, Charleston, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Garland, Monson, Parkman, and Sangerville. While it is remarkable that so many local residents took the initiative to protect themselves, it is telling how many people felt threatened and left vulnerable by Maine’s existing State laws.

We view the East-West Corridor issue as an educational opportunity, and a tool to bring our laws up to speed to address the realities of the 21st century. We hope you will join us in supporting these bills when they come before the Transportation Committee (LD 506 – Thursday, March 26th at 1pm in the State House, Room 126), and Judiciary Committee (LR 373 – TBD).

Detailed information for supporting LD 506, An Act to Improve Public Private Partnerships, is enclosed.

When we receive the final bill number for LR 373 and the official bill language, we may contact you with the following information:
1) Bill number, title, and language
2) Updated talking point suggestions for legislators
3) Instructions on how to officially submit written testimony to the Judiciary Committee
4) Contact information for individual members of the Judiciary Committee
5) Pending notification of a date—public hearing information and how to present oral testimony before the Judiciary Committee

Thank you for considering support for this legislation, and for distributing this information if you are inclined. We would like to make our best effort to educate your organization or municipality about these bills. Please contact us if you have questions, to receive legislative updates, or to set up a meeting. For more general information about STEWC, to follow legislative updates online, or to join our email notification list, please visit http://www.stopthecorridor.org. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Chris Buchanan Jane Crosen
Statewide Coordinator, STEWC Eastern Outreach, STEWC
Maine Coordinator, Defending Water for Life jcrosenmaps(at)gmail.com
chris(at)defendingwater.net (207) 326-4850
(207) 495-3648

[Enclosures (4): How to Submit Testimony; Talking Points LD 506; Transportation Committee Contacts; Talking Points LR 373]

Take Action on LD 506! Hearing this Thursday, March 26th at 1pm

How to Take Action on LD 506
An Act to Improve Public Private Partnerships
sponsored by Rep. Ralph Chapman (D-Brooksville)
cosponsored by Sen. Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis)

Educate yourself. By reading LD 506, by clicking HERE, by contacting us*, or by typing this web address into your browser: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP0345&item=1&snum=127

Review our Talking Point Suggestions for LD 506. These are intended to help you develop testimony that resonates with you and with lawmakers. You can find them attached to this message, online at www.stopthecorridor.org, or contact us and we will forward them*.

Contact Transportation Committee Members and ask them to support LD 506.

Best formula: Contact members + Submit Testimony + Attend Public Hearing

Please know that any part you do will be helpful! Here are all the bases:

1) Contact committee members individually and ask them to support LD 506. In person or by phone is best, but email is good too. Committee contact information is attached, and at www.stopthecorridor.org.

2) Submit official written testimony in one or more of the following ways:
A. At the Public Hearing, please bring at least 20 copies of your testimony and give them to the committee clerk.
B. Submit written testimony to the Transportation Committee by email: darlene.simoneau@legislature.maine.gov.
C. Submit written testimony to the Transportation Committee by post:
Darlene Simoneau, Transportation Committee Clerk, 100 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.
D. Note, officially submitting written testimony is the only way that your input goes on the public record. The deadline for submissions will be the Work Session on LD 506, which is not yet scheduled. However, we recommend that testimony be submitted before the Public Hearing on March 26th. Your testimony will have the most impact if hard copies are received by the clerk in time to insert in committee file folders before the hearing.

3) Testify before the Transportation Committee at the Public Hearing on Thursday, March 26th at 1pm in the State House, Room 126 in three minutes or less. You may summarize your written testimony, or speak from your heart. The committee will not answer questions. The more support at the public hearing, the better, whether you decide to orally testify or not.

Join our Press Conference. Tentatively planned before the Public Hearing…stay tuned!

*Contact us:
Chris Buchanan Jane Crosen
Statewide Coordinator, STEWC Eastern Outreach, STEWC
Maine Coordinator, Defending Water for Life jcrosenmaps@gmail.com
chris@defendingwater.net (207) 326-4850
(207) 495-3648

LD 506, An Act to Improve Public-Private Transportation Partnerships,
sponsored by Rep. Ralph Chapman (D-Brooksville),
cosponsored by Sen. Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis)

Concept:
LD 506 completely eliminates unsolicited proposals from the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Law and explicitly states that the Public-Private-Partnership Law for Transportation Projects must be consistent with the Maine Sensible Transportation Policy Act .

Talking points:
• This bill does not change, limit, or restrict the Maine Department of Transportation’s ability to develop a PPP for transportation infrastructure.

• This bill closes a loophole in the existing law by ensuring that all proposals to develop a PPP for transportation infrastructure would be initiated by the MDOT, and therefore would be consistent with public need, state planning, and existing laws.

• This bill preserves State control, oversight, and accountability for transportation planning and infrastructure development.

• This bill clarifies and preserves MDOT authority to represent the interests of the people of Maine.

• A private entity should not have the power to initiate proposals for new transportation infrastructure that is estimated to exceed $25,000,000 in initial capital cost, or that places tolls on new transportation facilities or on existing ones that were not previously subject to tolls.

• This bill prevents waste of taxpayer money. Taxpayers should not be funding the time and resources of MDOT staff who must interface with the public, and possibly the developer, about unsolicited proposals that aren’t grounded in State planning.

• The legislature must act to pass LD 506 and related legislation, LR 373, before there is any foreign investment in a public-private-partnership or private proposal to build a transportation corridor in order to avoid triggering the “investor-to-state” provision of trade agreements which gives foreign investors the right to sue the state in order to protect their “right” to future profits.
o Cianbro officials have stated that the Corridor would be owned and operated by at least one of twenty-two international investment firms.

• The need for this bill became apparent when the EWC proposal came to the table.

• The bill explicitly states that the PPP follows the Sensible Transportation Policy Act, protecting the public interest by ensuring transparency, public oversight, and other safeguards currently missing from the PPP.

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

End Violence Together event draws crowd in Bangor

One week after hundreds of thousands took part in the People’s Climate Change demonstration in New York City, Mainers came together for a rally and march to connect the dots between climate destruction, poverty and war.

Defending Water for Life in Maine was one of 38 Maine cosponsors for the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine’s “End Violence Together” event that was held on Saturday, September 27 on the Bangor waterfront as part of the national Campaign Nonviolence.

Chris and others marching with DWFL banner made by ARRT!

Chris and others marching with DWFL banner made by ARRT!

This public action featuring drumming, speakers, music and a march was one of more than 170 being held across the country. It was designed to raise awareness of the interrelationship of war, poverty and environmental destruction. Participants demonstrated a commitment to work collaboratively to build a culture of peace and nonviolence. 

Speakers included Mary Ellen Quinn, social worker and co-chair of Pax Christi Maine; Marc Cryer, Veterans for Peace, Jim Harney Chapter  and Chris Buchanan of Defending Water for Life.   Doug Allen of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine emceed.

A short performance by Voices for Peace set the tone for the event.  
To view Chris’s speech, click here.
Visit http://www.CampaignNonviolence.org to make a national connection.

 

Become Informed about the Corridor- Op-Ed by Jane Crosen

Become Informed about the Corridor

Although Cianbro Corp.’s proposal to build an East-West Corridor across Maine has gone relatively quiet in the face of public and legislative opposition, it hasn’t gone away. Peter Vigue (Maine magazine, May 2014) remains committed to developing a freight and energy supercorridor to boost Maine’s global trade connectivity, and his son Andi, Cianbro’s president, recently stated (WABI TV, June 16) they are at the preliminary stage of final development for the project.

Meanwhile, with Canada in the midst of an energy boom, fuel corporations continue pushing for more direct routes between Canada’s northwestern and northeastern oil and gas fields, refineries, and offshore wells; East Coast ports are expanding to compete for supercontainer ship traffic. Maine is not only in the middle but rich in natural resources, some of which could be extracted and exported. Maine’s economy, including our largest and most sustainable industry, tourism, depends on these same natural resources.

While the proponents have not disclosed specific route plans, enough details have emerged to form a pretty clear idea of potential route options and how this supercorridor (a fenced heavyweight truck highway bundled with pipelines and utilities), if built, could impact Maine’s landscape, statewide and Downeast. Cianbro’s last stated route would loop from Calais to Eastport to Route 95, crossing six river watersheds, with only two access points in between. Imagining how this infrastructure barrier–this international trade conduit, dividing our state–might impact local road and trail access, wildlife and recreation, businesses and communities, environment and waterways, it is hard to see how it would be in Maine’s best interest.

With Cianbro persevering toward a project proposal, it would be wise for Maine voters and visitors to become informed about the corridor. Despite the lack of information cited by gubernatorial candidates in a recent interview (Bangor Daily News, July 20), a wealth of sources–articles, maps, studies, films, archived audio and video–can be found at www.stopthecorridor.org, a website maintained by a coalition of Maine residents, businesses, and organizations concerned about the corridor.

In Hancock County, Advocates for Sustainable Futures Downeast, a local group formed to raise public awareness about the corridor, posts information on its Facebook page. And in Bar Harbor, the Friends of the Piscataquis Valley have launched a No-Corridor exhibit on the second floor of the store In The Woods, on Main Street near the Village Green. The ongoing exhibit is open to the public during store hours, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m

Also on Mount Desert Island, in Northeast Harbor, an art show and fundraiser will be featuring work by 18 artists in areas threatened by the proposed the East-West Corridor. The show, sponsored by Defending Water for Life, runs from August 13 to 19, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, at 131 Main Street, and can be previewed at www.ewcartshow.weebly.com.

Jane Crosen, Penobscot, Maine