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

LIKE us on Facebook: Stop the East-West Corridor

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

E/W Alert! Canada to send Tar Sands Oil East, all articles here!

Plus this update: LePage’s private dealings with TarSand companies

Defending Water for Life in Maine and Stop the East-West Corridor members have anticipated exposure of the link between tar-sands oil and the East-West Corridor due to pressure to get the oil from Alberta to east coast ports.  Over time their plan has become more clear.

While other environmental groups are focused on opposing the reversal of the Portland-Montreal Enbridge pipeline to transport tar sands from Montreal to Portland, we believe the East-West Corridor is a very viable option for this highly competitive industry.

While Exxon/Mobil wants Enbridge, TransCanada wants another route to the Atlantic.  Now, Canada has expressed a desire to ship tar-sands oil to Irving’s refinery in St. John’s, placing tremendous pressure on the development of the East-West Corridor through Maine.

Update article (2-7-13): TransCanada looks East amid Keystone Pipeline delay.

Update article (2-1-13): Energy minister solidifies federal acceptance of west-to-east oil pipeline.

Update article (1-28-13): New Brunswick pushes cross-country pipeline as ‘game-changer’.

Update article (11-14-12): TransCanada does not foresee major resistance to eastern oil pipe proposal.

Update article (11-8-12): Line 9 – Shipping Tar Sands Crude East.

Update articles (10-31-12): Eastern oil pipeline proposal technically, economically feasible: TransCanada.

Update article (10-31-12): TransCanada promotes crude solution.

Update article (10-12-12): LePage and the Maine DEP have met behind closed doors with Tar-Sands companies.

Here are a handful of articles on this topic (original post):

Another View: Turns out Canada does want to send oil east via pipelines

Goldenberg: Alberta’s oil should flow east, not west

Shipping oil to Asia? The route’s east, not west

E/W Alert! Canada to send Tar Sands Oil East, all articles here!

Plus this update: LePage’s private dealings with TarSand companies

Defending Water for Life in Maine and Stop the East-West Corridor members have anticipated exposure of the link between tar-sands oil and the East-West Corridor due to pressure to get the oil from Alberta to east coast ports.

While other environmental groups are focused on opposing the reversal of the Portland-Montreal Enbridge pipeline to transport tar sands from Montreal to Portland, we believe the East-West Corridor is a very viable option for this highly competitive industry.

While Exxon/Mobil wants Enbridge, TransCanada wants another route to the Atlantic.  Now, Canada has expressed a desire to ship tar-sands oil to Irving’s refinery in St. John’s, placing tremendous pressure on the development of the East-West Corridor through Maine.

Update article (11-14-12): TransCanada does not foresee major resistance to eastern oil pipe proposal.

Update article (11-8-12): Line 9 – Shipping Tar Sands Crude East.

Update articles (10-31-12): Eastern oil pipeline proposal technically, economically feasible: TransCanada.

Update article (10-31-12): TransCanada promotes crude solution.

Update article (10-12-12): LePage and the Maine DEP have met behind closed doors with Tar-Sands companies.

Here are a handful of articles on this topic (original post):

Another View: Turns out Canada does want to send oil east via pipelines

Goldenberg: Alberta’s oil should flow east, not west

Shipping oil to Asia? The route’s east, not west

Eastern Region Informational Meeting this Sunday!

This Sunday!

 

August 12th at 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Stop The East-West Corridor Coalition

Will hold an Eastern Region Informational Meeting

at the Penobscot Nation Community Building Gymnasium

12 Wabanaki Way, Indian Island

 

The public is invited to attend.  Information will be provided about the proposed East-West Highway (a 220-mile privately owned, toll highway from Calais to Coburn Gore). Coalition members will share information, concerns, and suggestions for getting involved with this issue, followed by public questions, concerns, and comments.

 

Learn what has so many Maine citizens concerned.

 


Directions: The bridge to Penobscot Nation/Indian Island is located off Route 43/ North Main Street in Old Town; After crossing bridge to Indian Island, turn right at the first stop sign (onto Bridge Street); continue for approximately ½ mile; Community Building is located on the right just beyond the Indian Island School; ample parking in the front lot. The speed limit on Indian Island is 20 miles per hour.

 

 

“We the citizens of Maine love the place we call home.

Our sense of place is what defines us.  When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

[www.stopthecorridor.org]

For more information: 852-2541 or email  sacredhomelands@gmail.com

Stop the East-West Corridor Coalition members in the New York Times!

New York Times, August 4, 2012 | By 

Link to article

Plan to Speed Travel With Toll Road in Maine Hits a Nerve

Chris Becker for The New York Times

Ross Ludders of Charleston, Me., rotating dairy cows into a new grazing area at Clovercrest farm.

CHARLESTON, Me. — Central Maine is so vast and so empty, with so few roads, that it has given rise to a classic bit of New England humor. An old Yankee is asked for directions, whereupon he replies, “You can’t get there from here.”

Sonja Heyck-Merlin and Steve Morrison, owners of Culver Crest farm, are concerned about the harm that could be done to the area by a proposed highway. (photo by Chris Becker for The New York Times)

(photo of Peter Vigue, the chairman and chief executive of the Cianbro Corporation, has proposed the toll road, by Chris Becker for The New York Times)

The problem in Maine is that most of its major roads run north-south. Very few run east-west, which makes traversing the state one long, slow slog.

Peter Vigue, the chairman and chief executive of the Cianbro Corporation, a large engineering and construction company based in Maine, is hoping to change that. He has proposed a $2 billion private toll road running 220 miles across the state.

He says it could make Maine a vital link in the global economy, speeding commerce across the Northeastern United States to markets in the Midwest, as well as help revitalize the lagging local economy.

The expansions of the Panama and Suez Canals make this highway even more urgent, he said in an interview last week. Bigger ships from around the world, carrying more cargo containers, will be looking for bigger, less congested ports on the East Coast, he said, and Maine already has one in Eastport.

The idea of an east-west highway has been kicking around for decades. But Mr. Vigue’s proposal stands a good chance of becoming reality. As such, it has struck a raw nerve within the Maine psyche and has prompted a fierce debate over the state’s brand, character and future.

Opponents say a major thoroughfare slicing through the state would destroy the very qualities of peacefulness, natural beauty and remoteness that make this region desirable in the first place.

“It would just completely change ‘the way life should be,’ ” said Chris Buchanan, referring to the state’s unofficial slogan. Ms. Buchanan is the statewide coordinator for Stop the Corridor, a coalition opposing the highway.

“Maine is a rural state,” she said, “and this is a businessman who is trying to make it the Northeast trade gateway.”

That is exactly what others hope Mr. Vigue (pronounced VIG-you) can achieve.

“You can think small and be small, or you can think big and be big,” said Christopher M. Gardner, executive director of the Eastport Port Authority. Eastport has the greatest natural depth of any port on the East Coast, but it gets less traffic than many others.

“A big ship could come in here now, but we lack the connectivity to the rest of the world to warrant it,” Mr. Gardner said. “But,” he added, “we’re not in the middle of nowhere, we’re right in the middle of the supply chain. We just have to seize the opportunity.”

The main reason that Mr. Vigue — and his opponents — believe that his proposal could succeed now where others have failed is that it would be financed privately.

“We have no state or federal participation,” Mr. Vigue said in the interview, “and we are confident that this is achievable.” He said he was in discussions with other private partners and was following a recent trend of more private industry involvement in highways around the country.

“You find that cities, states and the federal government do not have adequate funding to support the demand for infrastructure,” Mr. Vigue said.

But to the consternation of many, he has not specified the exact route from the east, in Calais, to the west, in Coburn Gore. He said he would buy and string together existing roads and rights of way; because the project is private, he cannot use the state’s right of eminent domain. For those reasons, he said, the corridor would not disrupt local communities.

But opponents say they have been left in the dark on important details. They fear a 2,000-foot-wide corridor carrying not only long-haul trucks but also oil and gas pipelines and communications cables. (Mr. Vigue said the corridor would be 500 feet wide and says he has had “no such conversations” with utilities.)

Bob and Joan Morrison moved their family from Southern Maine to a farm here in Charleston, a rural area about 25 miles northwest of Bangor, in the 1970s because they fell in love with the gently rolling hills. They also saw the area as affordable and thought it would keep its rural character.

Their son Steve now lives in their original farmhouse with his own family, while Bob and Joan live in another house on the property, a dairy farm of about 1,000 acres. They sell their milk to an organic co-op that processes it in New Hampshire, but plan to start shipping it this winter to a new company in Maine. They grow a lot of their own food and prefer supporting the local economy to the global economy that Mr. Vigue envisions.

“This area has been left behind, and that’s the way we like it,” Joan Morrison, 72, said as the family sat around the kitchen table.

The Morrisons spend a lot of time poring over maps and trying to figure out where the corridor will run and how it will affect them.

“Losses due to the proposed corridor will make it harder, not easier, for my business and other farms in the area to find quality fields to rent or buy,” said Steve Morrison, 47.

Contrary to Mr. Vigue’s promises, the Morrisons see little benefit to Maine itself, beyond a few gas stations to serve the trucks that are hauling goods and waste for international conglomerates.

Environmentalists say the road would be a “nightmare” for the land, air and animal habitats as well as for recreational activities. The private financing has also raised red flags. A 2009 report by the United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that some other privately financed toll roads had failed, leaving taxpayers responsible.

The next step here is a financial feasibility study, for which the Legislature has approved $300,000, to be reimbursed by the builders if the project goes ahead.

The state is paying for the study because it has an interest in the economics of the project, said Ted Talbot, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation; it is not being done for Mr. Vigue.

“We want to know, if it’s a toll road, how does it become profitable for a private company to operate?” Mr. Talbot said. “Someone has to plow it, police it, maintain it.”

Mr. Vigue would not say how much he expected to charge at the tollgates. He dismissed reports that the cost for the whole route could run as high as $100 for cars and $200 for trucks. “It will be financially attractive or people won’t use it,” he said.

Once the feasibility study is done, Mr. Vigue said he expected to take three years for the permitting and design of the project and another three to build it.

Tony Brinkley, a professor who works on economic development projects for the Franco-American Center at the University of Maine, said many in the state were torn over the proposal.

There is scant information about the road, he said, and no one is really in a position to judge whether it would be more harmful or more beneficial to Maine in the long run, or whether it would help Canada at Maine’s expense. For everyone worried about wrecking Maine’s way of life, he said, others fear that doing nothing would leave the economy stagnant.

“The Maine brand,” he said, “should not be poverty.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 5, 2012

An earlier version of a photo caption with this article misidentified a farm in Charleston, Me. It is Clovercrest Farm, not Culver Crest.

E/W Corridor Part 3: Chris Buchanan interview with Regis Tremblay about the East-West Corridor

http://youtu.be/u1uQ7CQcYiQ

Regis Tremblay writes:

Part 3 in my series about the proposed East-West Highway is an extensive interview I conducted with Chris Buchanan. Chris is the organizer of a coalition to oppose the East-West Highway, more aptly called a “corridor,” as you will discover in this interview.

Chris explains the real motives and corporate incentives behind the hidden agenda of this corporate assault on the State of Maine, and explains the devastating consequences to the environment, wildlife, local communities, and our heritage.

You will also see clips of Peter Vigue, CEO of the Cianbro Corporation based in Pittsfield, Maine. Chris describes him as bullying his audience, somewhat paternalistic, and unwilling to listen to local citizens, farmers, and landowners. He appears stiff and condescending when people disagree with his grand vision. He promises prosperity for Maine – even quoting from Field of Dreams when he tells the locals, “if you build it they will come.” He adds, “if you don’t build it, they won’t come.” That will be a very good thing for Maine if they don’t come. “They” refers to the multinational corporations bent on extracting our resources and dominating the planet.

We can’t let this happen here in Maine. This is our opportunity to protect our state from this corporate pillage, and to stop the insidious, unsustainable, and suicidal onslaught of corporate greed.

Audio Coverage of July 14th Public Forum, Dexter

Here is the recording of the public forum where the public made comments and asked panelists questions about the East-West Corridor project.

Panel members included: Dave Pearson, District 24 House Candidate; Dusty Dowse, District 27 House Candidate; Sherman Leighton, Senator, District 33; Frederick Dawson, District 25 House Candidate; Ken Fredette, House Representative from District 25; Sue Mackey Andrews, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Jim Aniss, selectman from Dover Foxcroft, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Herbie Clark, District 10 House Representative, candidate for District 27 Senator seat (against Doug Thomas); Hillary Lister, a local activist and representative of Stop the East West Corridor; Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator for Stop the East West Corridor and organizer with Defending Water for Life in Maine.

Link to press release here.

Press Release: July 14 Celebration of Local Economy and Public Forum, Dexter

Ridge View Community School, Dexter, ME: On Saturday July 14, nearly 175 area residents and local and state officials met at a public forum hosted by Dexter and Dover Area Towns in Transition {DDATT} for an open discussion of the proposed East-West Corridor.

 

Residents spoke with a panel of local government officials of both parties, candidates for this fall’s state elections, and members of concerned citizens groups including Stop the East-West Corridor, and Defending Water for Life in Maine.

 

State Senator Doug Thomas, a central proponent of the plan, who had initially made three confirmations of attendance, did not attend.  Two other representatives, Paul Johnson and Ray Wallace, also cancelled their confirmed plans to attend on the night before the forum.

 

As residents asked questions and shared comments on the East-West Corridor proposal, panel members learned about the project, mostly from audience members, and panelists Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator of Stop the Corridor coalition, and Hillary Lister, a local activist.   Both public officials and citizens are currently unable to access any specific information regarding location, investors and full intent for land use.  Questions also remain about how alternatives to the Corridor and the full impact of a Corridor would be assessed.  In addition, attendants questioned how public officials would address the exemption of Freedom of Access to private infrastructure proposals. These questions and many others remained unanswered by Representatives Herbie Clark and Ken Fredette.  They both expressed that, like the audience at large, they too sought to understand the proposal more clearly.

 

In his opening statement, representative Herbie Clark said that he listens to his constituents.  “90 percent say, ‘Herbie, we don’t need it,” he said.

 

While filing into the gym, many attendants remarked at the absence of any state, local or private security, in contrast to the heavily policed presentation by Cianbro’s Peter Vigue at Foxcroft Academy on May 31st. Despite the absence of law enforcement, and the urgency of the subject matter, those in attendance maintained a civil tone.

 

Although scheduled to end at 9pm, the forum was extended in order to allow all those interested to speak their turn. Some waited for up to an hour in line behind the microphone.  After the conclusion of the meeting people gathered outside the school to continue discussion.

 

The consensus at the end of the evening is that more transparent information is needed from those behind this proposal before many members of the community can accurately come to a well informed conclusion.

 

Panel members included: Dave Pearson, District 24 House Candidate; Dusty Dowse, District 27 House Candidate; Sherman Leighton, Senator, District 33; Frederick Dawson, District 25 House Candidate; Ken Fredette, House Representative from District 25; Sue Mackey Andrews, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Jim Aniss, selectman from Dover Foxcroft, candidate for Piscataquis County Commissioners; Herbie Clark, District 10 House Representative, candidate for District 27 Senator seat (against Doug Thomas); Hillary Lister, a local activist and representative of Stop the East West Corridor; Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator for Stop the East West Corridor and organizer with Defending Water for Life in Maine.

 

Before the forum a community fair was held.  Local businesses and community organizations presented their crafts, trades and information.  This gathering seemed to set a positive tone with music, home made food and a robust exchange of local info. One small local businesswoman who sews finely crafted handbags and tote bags displayed a sign stating: “This is What Job Creation looks like.”

 

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