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

 

Community Activists Protest Tar Sands Pipeline Reversal

The Protesters chanted “No Tar Sands Oil. Protect Vermont’s soil”

Posted on May 8, 2012

http://vtdigger.org/2012/05/08/community-activists-protest-tar-sands-pipeline-reversal/

May 5, 2012

Burlington, VT- Saturday local students and community members carried a 30 foot long pipeline prop with the message “No Tar Sands In VT!” written down the side through downtown Burlington to protest the proposed reversal of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL). The reversal would result in heavy tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada being pumped through the sixty year old pipeline that crosses through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Tar sands crude is much more corrosive than conventional oil and led to Enbridge spilling over 840,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 when their pipeline ruptured.

The protesters chanted “No Tar Sands oil. Protect Vermont’s soil!” among other chants making their way down Church St. At City Hall they stopped for a couple short speeches informing onlookers about the issue and drawing cheers from the crowd.

“This is Vermont. I was born and raised here. I know the pride we feel of our state. So what makes me really upset is that someone has decided to run tar sands through our lives, our fields, woods, streams.” said Marion Major, a sophomore at UVM, to the crowd in front of City Hall.

After city hall the march headed through city hall park and back down Church St. Activists engaged pedestrians as they passed to tell them that the tar sands is coming to Vermont. One man from Montreal already knew about it and was very supportive. Montreal has had a lot of activism surrounding the issue already.

The plan to reverse PMPL, part of a larger pipeline infrastructure proposal known as the Trailbreaker Project, had been shelved in 2008 when the recession hit, but has been given new life with the other avenues of exporting tar sands oil being blocked. Other communities have united against the Keystone XL pipeline that would travel across the Midwestern United States and it is now time to demonstrate opposition to tar sands being shipped through our own community.

Enbridge has already begun seeking permits to reverse their Line 9 pipeline as well as the PMPL section that lies on the Canadian side of the border. The next logical step is for them to do the same on the Vermont side. The protesters today were demonstrating to promote an early resistance, hoping to raise awareness among Vermonters of a little-known proposal that could severely risk the lives and well being of many citizens.

 


Bottled Water Banished at University of Vermont

Vending machines to feature ‘healthy choices’

By Lauren Drasler, Assistant New Editor | The Vermont Cynic | Thursday, February 2, 2012

The sale of bottled water on campus will end Jan. 1, 2013, makingUVM one of the first institutions nationwide to pass this type of sustainable beverage policy, according to University Communications.

UVM will remove bottled water from its 57 vending machines and in retail outlets as well asmandate that one-third of the drinks in vending machines be healthy choices,University Communications stated.

Though the administration made this decision, Director for the Office of Sustainability Gioia Thompson said that student groups such as Vermont Student Environmental Program (VSTEP) really led the way.

“In 2010 and 2011, Mikayla McDonald and Marlee Baron each served as both VSTEP president and SGA senator,” Thompson said.  “They were key in connecting with SGA committees and leaders, who responded with resolutions.”

Thompson said that UVM’s campus has 200 water fountains that can easily be retrofitted with water bottle filling stations like the ones in the Davis Center for about $300 each.

“Other fountains will need to be replaced, costing in the thousands,” she said. “There may be some new fountain locations requiring new plumbing, as is the case in the Waterman building’s recent fountain upgrade.”

Vice President of Finance and Administration Richard Cate estimates that the cost of updating and replacing water fountains throughout campus will be about $100,000.

“This action is not likely to save the University any money, but hopefully students will save

money by having better access to chilled drinking water for which they do not have to pay,” he

said.

The Coca-Cola contract, which gives the company exclusive pouring rights at the University and is set to expire in June, generates $482,000 in revenue for UVM, Cate said.  Of that revenue, some is used to directly benefit students.

“$157,000 of the $482,000 from the current contract goes to student financial aid,” he said.

Cate confirmed that revenue from the new contracts will also be directed toward student aid.

President of VSTEP Greg Francese said that his club has worked directly with the Office of Sustainability and student organizations in order to educate the community about environmental issues such as the impact of bottled water.

Francese said that VSTEP’s main goal for the past five years has been to ban the sale of bottled water, with campaigns such as Bring Your Own Bottle days, in which students are encouraged to not buy bottled water for one day.

“We wanted people to think about why they’re purchasing bottled water,” he said. “The way we’ve done that is basically just by educating people about why you can get virtually the same product for free out of a water fountain.”

Though the decision to end sales of bottled water on campus is finally official, Francese said the news has not sunk in yet.

“It feels surreal, I guess it hasn’t really hit me yet,” he said. “There’s been a lot of congratulatory emails, and I got interviewed by one of the local news stations, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s happening.

“When it happens it will be great,” he said.

Former VSTEP president Mikayla McDonald said that she is very supportive of UVM’s decision to let the Coke contract expire and to remove the sale of bottled water from campus.

“UVM has shown great leadership with this action and will undoubtedly motivate students in other American colleges and universities to take similar initiatives,” she said.

McDonald said she has a variety of issues with the bottled water industry.

“Single-serving, plastic-packaged bottled water is one of those products which has a 100 percent manufactured demand,” she said. “That means that there was essentially no need or want for it until bottled water companies started spending billions of dollars on advertising.”

These advertising campaigns have successfully convinced many Americans that municipal tap water is dirty and dangerous while bottled water is cleaner and healthier, McDonald said. In fact, the opposite is true.

Many students said they agree with the University’s decision to stop selling bottled water.

“I think it’s awesome,” senior Audrey Stout said.  “We don’t need any more plastic, so I’m all for this idea.”

Other students agreed that bottled water is a waste.

“There is plenty of opportunity to get free water from the fountains, and reusable water bottles are always being given away here,” sophomore Isaiah Cory said.

Though most students said they supported the administration’s decision, others said they didn’t like the idea of completely banning water bottle sales.

“Anytime there is a ban it’s an infringement,” senior Ben Zabriskie said.  “If the University put a $1 tariff on bottled water, then that money could be used to support conservation instead of completely banning bottled water sales.”