HELP KILL THE EWC! Action needed now on our bill.

Help protect Maine people and the environment from unnecessary new transportation infrastructure

(like the East-West Corridor)

 

Call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to vote, “ought to pass” on LD 1168 today!

 

Click here for a CONTACT LIST for all Senators and Representatives: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WBJaw1Hvmr0n0DSVVS_CBXA1ug1_lLw0-L26MbrPVdE/pubhtml?usp=gmail

 

Please take notice: LD 1168 has changed from a focus on eminent domain to a focus on improving the P3 law. There are several reasons for this. Primarily, we want to achieve some protection THIS SESSION. Please contact us to discuss.

 

New Talking Points for LD 1168

 

LD 1168 as amended makes some significant improvements to the public-private partnership law for transportation projects (P3) to improve protection of the public interest.  This amended bill was a joint effort between Stop the East-West Corridor, the Department of Transportation, and Sen. Paul Davis.

 

LD 1168 clarifies that P3s must be in accordance with the Sensible Transportation Policy Act (section 73).  The P3 should comply with the STPA because it is the guiding statute dictating appropriate transportation development in Maine, with guidelines for protecting the public interest in significant transportation development. That means more safeguards for water resources, farmland, wildlife, natural resources, rural character, tourism, state and municipal resources, and taxpayer money from unnecessary transportation infrastructure like the East-West Corridor.

 

LD 1168 calls for an annual reporting requirement, which enables some public participation and accountability to lawmakers on authorized P3 projects.  Right now, P3 projects only require legislative authorization at a draft stage, and then never need to be seen again.  Since P3 projects may use up to 50% taxpayer money and other state resources, ongoing legislative and public oversight is critical.

 

LD 1168 clarifies that the department may not confer eminent domain power to a private entity.  According to the Chief Deputy Attorney General, Linda Pistner, this potential abuse of eminent domain power is currently unclear in Maine State law, so we are fixing that.

 

 

To view Maine’s existing P3 law, visit: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/23/title23sec4251.html

 

To view Maine’s Sensible Transportation Policy Act (section 73), visit:

http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/statutes/23/title23sec73.html

 

To view an amended version of LD 1168, see the attachment.

 

Click here for a CONTACT LIST for all Senators and Representatives: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WBJaw1Hvmr0n0DSVVS_CBXA1ug1_lLw0-L26MbrPVdE/pubhtml?usp=gmail

 

Thank you for your concern and your support!

 

 

Questions? Contact:

 

Chris Buchanan                                                             Jane Crosen

Statewide Coordinator, STEWC                                 Eastern Outreach, STEWC

Maine Coordinator, Defending Water for Life         jcrosenmaps(at)gmail(dot)com

chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net                                           (207) 326-4850

(207) 495-3648

 

 

For more information about Stop the East-West Corridor and the East-West Corridor proposal in general, please visit: www.stopthecorridor.org

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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.

Mainebiz magazine promotes Peter Vigue and EWC

Link to Article

February 23, 2015 | Mainebiz

Like the real estate motto, Maine offers location, location, location

During hard times or hard winters, Maine and Mainers chug along. Yet there are always those asking how Maine can grow and prosper.

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with Peter Vigue, chairman of the Pittsfield-based Cianbro Cos., the largest construction firm based in Maine, with $530 million in annual sales and 4,000 employees. Ever since I joined Mainebiz nearly a year ago, people, including U.S. Sen. Angus King, have urged me to talk with Vigue and get his take on economic development.

“One of our greatest strengths is people know how to survive. People are resilient, they survive somehow,” Vigue says of Mainers. “We’re independent. I’m not saying we’ll succeed, but we’ll survive.”

He cites residents of Washington County who make a living by “tipping” trees, raking blueberries and digging bloodworms.

But Vigue — who was born in Caribou, went to the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and lives in the Pittsfield area — says independence can have a downside. Maine’s geography, the great distance between regions and other factors mean it’s harder to get various factions to work together. He cites the number of chambers of commerce, some of which overlap in coverage, creating competition instead of cooperation.

“How do you get everyone going in the same direction?” he asks.

The challenge is the northern half of the state continues to see outward migration and a dwindling number of jobs.

He says he’s worked with governors — most recently, Angus King (when he was in that role), John Baldacci and Paul LePage.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about the people. We’re in a rut,” says Vigue, adding that it’s the business community that could drive change.

The solutions?

“If you’re going to be part of an economy, you need connectivity,” he says. That applies as much to technology as infrastructure.

“What is the thing Maine has always had? Natural resources and location. We could fill sailing ships in Bangor and go anywhere you needed to go … From [shipping] lumber to pulp and paper,” says Vigue.

Now, with the decline of Maine’s paper industry, “we’re refocused on playing defense,” he says.

Yet Vigue stresses the need to again use the waterways to Maine’s advantage. He’s a big proponent of expanding the shipping facility at Eastport, one of Maine’s three deep water ports (along with Searsport and Portland). Expansion would mean having to build rail access (at present, the closest rail line is 16 miles away, at Ayers Junction). Yet the “deep water” part of the port already exists. Even as the Port of New York and New Jersey spends $7 billion to deepen its channel to 50 feet, Eastport has a natural resource with its depth of 64 feet. Deeper channels mean larger ships and greater cargo capacities.

Leading ports in New York; Norfolk, Va.; and Savannah, Ga., are reaching capacity. Ports on the West Coast are beset by labor issues and high costs. Eastport, by contrast, has great potential and is a step closer to ports in Europe and the Suez Canal, Vigue says.

Though the effort has stalled, Vigue continues to push for an east-west highway that could connect Maine to Quebec on one side and New Brunswick on the other (running from Coburn Gore on the west to Calais on the east).

“The real challenge isn’t about a highway,” he says. “We’re within one day’s travel from 40% of the U.S. population. What do we have that other people want? What is sustainable?”

Maine’s agriculture potential can also be used to our advantage, he says. Food is one thing everyone needs. As a native of Aroostook County, he has a natural inclination to promote the agricultural resources there: potatoes, broccoli, beef and other products. And products with a Maine label continue to have widespread appeal.

“We have 1.3 million people. We can turn this around on a dime,” Vigue says. “But we need a strategy and a plan.”

Doug Thomas’s pro-EWC op-ed

Our economy won’t improve if we reject development

Posted Feb. 19, 2015, at 1:09 p.m.

We all know Maine is a poor state. We’re told how high food stamp rates are, how many of our children need free lunch at school and all the other measures of poverty. I deliver firewood all over central Maine, and I see the consequences of our dismal economy every day. You can know how poor we are, but when you look poverty in the eye it becomes much different. It becomes unacceptable.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I counted up the job losses in this part of Maine over the last 20 years. Starting at Interstate 95 through Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft to Millinocket, we counted 10,000 middle-class jobs gone from a population base of about 50,000. At one time, this was the most prosperous part of Maine, a major driver of the Maine economy. Now if we aren’t the welfare and unemployment capital of Maine it’s a miracle.

Then, look back over the last few decades at all the projects that have been proposed to improve our economy to which we’ve said no: the Dickey-Lincoln dam that was never built on the St. John River, a container port on Sears Island, Port of Searsport development, the Big A Dam meant to power the Great Northern Paper Co. mill in Millinocket. Plum Creek spent tens of millions of dollars to be allowed to sell fewer than a thousand house lots on 16,000 acres in the Moosehead region. Even though the company has gotten through the first step, most of a decade has passed and no development has taken place yet. We’ve let our freight rail service degenerate to the point at which it’s almost useless.

Mills are shutting down in the winter to avoid the high cost of electricity while we’ve torn out dams and dismantled generators of cheap power. But we’re bulldozing mountain tops to build windmills. We aren’t allowed by our Legislature to buy cheap electricity from Canada.

We’re about to let a $2 billion dollar investment in the Maine economy slip through our fingers like we have so many other improvements over the years. A project that would provide hundreds of full-time, benefit-paying jobs long after the hundreds of millions in construction payroll is gone. A project that would lower our property taxes because of the taxes this business would have to pay. A project that would improve our transportation system and lower those costs to help our businesses compete. That project is the East-West Highway.

We’re told tourism is the answer. Heaven knows we need those jobs, but how do they compare to the jobs we’ve lost? We’re told we all can raise vegetables in our backyard and sell them beside the road. I can assure you, welfare pays much better and you won’t get sunburned.

The point is, we’re being convinced to say no to all these projects by out-of-state groups that don’t have any answers and really don’t care. If anything is going to be done to cure this poverty, it’s going to come from us.

We might think government knows best and will get this economy moving. How has that been working out for us?

You might think there’s really nothing we can do, and if we speak up some group will attack us claiming all kinds of bad things about us. Could be, but we are the answer if we can find the courage. I served in the Legislature for 10 years, and I can promise you the solutions to get our economy moving again won’t originate there. The solutions will have to come from us, and we’ll have to demand those fixes in a loud enough voice so those who want our votes listen. If we lead they’ll follow.

Let’s start leading and make Maine as good a place to make a living as it is a place to live.

Doug Thomas of Ripley is a former Republican member of the Maine Senate and the Maine House.