Rail / Water ties with Nestle: update from Western ME

from Nickie Seckera of Community Water Justice

August 31, 2014

 

Hello everyone,
Update from Western Maine –

It pleases me to hear that gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud has vocalized a lack of support for an East-West Corridor.  YES.  Michaud has however expressed interest in exploring / supporting rail options for the transport of natural resources.  Here is Western Maine, things are becoming more serious now in discussions of resurrecting the Mountain Division rail line from Montreal to Portland through a high point of Crawford Notch in the White Mountain National Forest just over the border in New Hampshire.  Industry besides oil that may be pushing for this very expensive privately-funded project is a new $80 million wood pellet processing factory (300,000 tons of pellets per year) that was built recently for export to Europe.

Additionally, Maine’s water is at risk for further exploitation by Nestle (Poland Spring brand).  Nestle is planning on building ANOTHER bottling plant in Fryeburg, though the world’s largest water bottling plant lies a mere 35 miles away.  Currently, business people in Fryeburg are looking to industrialize a very large area right alongside the rail route and records indicate that Nestle has secured permits for railroad access.

This article appeared in a local paper last week about the proposed rail route:
http://www.conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local-news/115938-passenger-rail-from-portland-maine-to-montreal

**Keep watch – a decision could be handed down from the MPUC in as little as 6 weeks for an approval for a precedent setting 25-45 year contract for Fryeburg’s groundwater.  We just received notice that they will not be opening a new docket and the Commission will be upholding a ruling set by our conflict-of-interest ridden commission.  Communities of Maine simply do not appear to be able to fight Nestle’s deep pockets and ability to intercept our democratic process.  You can view the case file at the Maine Public Utilities Commission website:

CASE NUMBER: 2012-00487
Utility/Industry Type: Water
Utility/Industry Subtype: Water

To keep abreast of the water situation in Fryeburg, Maine and beyond, feel free to connect to Community Water Justice on Facebook for updates.
Thank you all for your diligence, concern and willingness to create a positive vision for the future of Maine – the way life should continue to be!
Nickie

 

South Portland Tar Sands Ban Enacted

Maine Public Broadcasting Network | July 22, 2014

The South Portland City Council has voted to ban the export of Canadian tar-sands crude through the city, effectively ending any attempt to bring the crude from western Canada through a pipeline into the city. While there are no such plans in the work, Portland Pipeline Corporation Vice-President Tom Hardison spoke against the proposal.

“I continue to be concerned about the clearly intended consequences the passage of this ordinance will have on the energy industry in South Portland and the industry’s ability to adapt to and meet the needs of a dynamic industry and the energy needs of the region and North America,” Hardison said.

Crude from the tar sands of western Canada is fueling a surge in North American production, but environmentalists say tar sands oil is difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment,” says Emily Figdor of Environment Maine. “It really gives me hope that other communities that also are dealing with serious local impacts from tar sands infrastructure can come together and similarly protect what is so dear to them.”

South Portland councilor Michael Pock was the only “no” vote, as he was two weeks ago. Opponents of the new ordinance say the referendum could hurt the city’s economic future, though the ordinance was crafted to allow existing petroleum handling in the city to continue.

An attorney for Portland Pipeline Corp., Matt Manahan, warned the ordinance would be found to be pre-empted by federal and state law. But Sean Mahoney of the Conservation Law Foundation challenged that and said his organization will support South Portland if the city faces suit to overturn the anti-tar-sands ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance will have 20 days to collect some 900 signatures to force a vote on the ordinance.

 

Portland council throws its weight behind ‘corporate personhood’ abolishment

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 18, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine — By a 6-2 vote Wednesday night, the Portland City Council joined Los Angeles and New York City councils in a thus far symbolic effort to strip corporations of First Amendment free speech rights controversially cemented by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A local resolution supporting a constitutional amendment abolishing “corporate personhood” initially was proposed by Councilor David Marshall and co-sponsored by John Anton, Kevin Donoghue and Mayor Michael Brennan. The move was hailed by some councilors and several members of the public as an early step in a grass-roots push to overturn a ruling they argued opens the door to unchecked political spending by wealthy corporations.

The council’s vote was received with an eruption of applause and celebration by the packed council chambers after audience members spent nearly two hours testifying almost entirely in favor of the measure.

“We’re seeing a vast outpouring of money that is taking over our democracy,” Malory Shaughnessy, a Portland resident and former Cumberland County commissioner, told the council. “This will be the defining issue of our time, in my opinion.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 ruled by a 5-4 vote that limiting corporate or union political contributions equates to an infringement of the groups’ First Amendment right to free speech. The divisive decision, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, helped usher in a new era of super PACS — political action groups that can raise and expend unlimited funds in support of candidates or issues often without disclosing donors until after elections take place.

Because the issue already has been appealed to the highest court in the country, the only way to throw out corporate personhood now would be a constitutional amendment. That prospective step has received votes of support from several municipal council and boards across the country.

During the Portland council’s turn to weigh in Wednesday, several members of the public, many from the nearby OccupyMaine encampment and the Maine League of Young Voters, told councilors the local resolution would be a small but important victory in the movement against the court ruling.

The Portland meeting was a preview of sorts to a Friday demonstration planned by OccupyMaine to take place at the U.S. District Court in the city, where protesters plan to show solidarity with other occupations around the nation marking the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision with a ceremonial “funeral for democracy.”

“Corporations do not have the same interests as you and I, as the average Mainer or the average Portland resident,” said Adam Marletta, chairman of the Portland Green Independent party. “All of this corporate money tends to drown out the voices of the average citizens.”

Not everybody on the council approved of the resolution, however. Councilor John Coyne joined Cheryl Leeman in voting against the measure, the latter of whom argued that U.S. constitutional interpretation is not a job for the City Council.

Leeman suggested discussing the issue during a council meeting detracts from the panel’s ability to deal with more appropriate city business.

“I do on one hand feel that what you’ve said and what you’ve brought forward is an important issue,” Leeman said to the audience Wednesday. “Where I part ways with all of you is I just quite simply don’t believe this is the forum to do this.”

Voting in favor of the resolution were Councilors Nicholas Mavodones and Jill Duson, in addition to sponsors Marshall, Anton, Donoghue and Brennan. Councilor Ed Suslovic left the meeting before the vote because of an ailing back, but before leaving, he called for his fellow councilors to consider placing the issue before the council’s Legislative Committee to develop an amendment establishing a municipal-level Clean Elections program.

Brennan said that as a former state lawmaker and Democratic candidate for the Congress, he has seen firsthand the influence of money on campaigning and that Maine’s Clean Elections law has been a trendsetter for minimizing that influence.

via: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/01/18/news/portland/portland-council-throws-its-weight-behind-corporate-personhood-abolishment/?ref=latest

Defending Water in Maine Stands in Solidarity for Protecting the Ogallala Aquifer and the Waters of the Alberta Boreal Forest

 

As Michelle Obama’s entourage of SUV’s rolled into Portland for Obama’s re-election fundraiser, Defending Water for Life and an estimated 40 others protested the proposed XL Pipeline that is sitting on the President’s desk right now.

If constructed, the pipeline would support the mining and transport of the dirtiest oil from the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in Texas.  Experts who are not being silenced by industry or political influence state that if this project proceeds, climate change will increase exponentially, and that the damage caused to water, plants, and animals will be irreversible.

Here is a video of the protest:  http://bcove.me/494aayoo

For more information visit http://www.tarsandsaction.org/ or simply google, “Tar Sands Actions” or the “XL Pipeline”.

Link to the full article on Michelle Obama’s visit to Portland:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/portland-gives-first-lady-mainly-warm-welcome_2011-10-01.html

 

 

 

 

Enough water? Let's figure it out

Portland Press Herald, Bill Nemitz, April 9, 2009

REBUTTAL #1 by David Gibson follows below
REBUTTALS #2 & #3 by Tim Copeland and Steve Carroll were printed by the Portland Press Herald here.
REBUTTALS #4 & #5
by
Floyd Folsom and Jamilla El-Shafei were later printed by the Portland Press Herald here.

Listening to my basement sump pump hard at work the other day, I got to thinking. How many gallons a day, I wondered, flow into and out of my basement during these waterlogged days of early spring? Which in turn made me wonder: How much water falls on our 1.86-acre yard in a given year?

Continue reading

World Water Day March in Portland (ME) Videos

Maine has role in World Water Day
Sunday’s commemoration and activities offer a role for citizens to be involved in a worldwide effort.
By AMY DOWLEY, JAMILLA EL-SHAFEI and EMILY POSNER
Portland Press Herald, March 21, 2009    FULL STORY

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March 22, 2009,  Independent Video recording:

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WCSH-TV 6 NEWS Portland, ME

Protest at Portland, ME Law Firm

      1. Click here for AUDIO

Click here for PHOTOS

On Friday, November 14, 2008, Maine youth teamed with Native Forest Network and Defending Water for Life to protest a Portland law firm for its role in the commodification of Maine’s groundwater.

People from across Maine brought trash bags full of empty plastic water bottles to Pierce Atwood to demonstrate the physical ramifications of the corporate bottling industry for Maine’s landfills. Continue reading