Chris did a STEWC presentation to the Friends of the Sunkhaze National Wildlife Refuge at Daybreak Bakery in Old Town. Close to 40 people attended. WERU took audio footage that’s available
Update 11-15-12: We had a STEWC statewide coalition meeting in Monson. The next meeting will be December 5th, 5:30pm in downtown Dover-Foxcroft at the new information center, next to the Center Theater. Join us!
There are 4 more articles about moving TarSands East since the 10-10 update. All of the TarSands articles are here.
Update 11-13-12: 350.org with Bill McKibben was in Portland for their Do The Math Tour, and mentions our coalition!
WABI 5 asks Senate candidates where they stand on the E/W Corridor. No one is openly in favor of the project. Link here.
Update 10-29-12: Darryl Brown spoke at a private meeting at Northern Maine Development Corporation’s office in Caribou. According to the article, MDOT was present.
Update 10-25-12: We had a STEWC statewide coalition meeting in Newport.
Update 10-16-12: The Saint John Board of Trade hosted Paul LePage and Premier David Alward for “its first ever cross border business event.” One of the afternoon panels was, “Energy: A Regional Perspective for Maine and the Maritimes”.
Two STEWC members attended. For more information email Pete: stopthecorridor(at)gmail(dot)com
Update 10-10-12: More on TarSands and Maine. Also see update from 9-6-12. Documents have just been released the show that Governor LePage and the Maine DEP have met secretly with TarSands companies.
Update 10-3-12: We had a STEWC statewide coalition meeting in Sangerville.
Update 9-30-12: This last weekend members of STEWC completed a Direct Action training hosted by local Maine activists. The training included workshops on: facilitation and consensus; identifying goals, strategies, and tactics; background on affinity groups; what is direct action?; identifying a target; knowing your legal rights; and background on hard blocks and soft blocks. Thanks to all the trainers for doing a great job, to everyone who attended the workshops, and to folks that brought us such good food!
Update 9-26-12: Washington County. Federal prosecutors say they may seize all of Township 37, and some additional territory according to locals, as follow-up on the huge 2009 pot bust. About 5 miles of this land goes along the Stud Mill Road, and lies dead on the proposed East-West Corridor route.
Update 9-26-12: At an early-bird breakfast, paper mill executives stressed how members of the paper industry need a viable rail connection to be competitive. They also said an East-West highway was on their wishlist, but that may have been just Lincoln Pulp and Tissue talking, who has been a proponent from the start.
Update 9-19-12: The Sierra Club gave a small presentation of their draft powerpoint and messaging to select invitees. Many folks at this meeting expressed concern that the Sierra Club was missing the point by calling the project a “highway” and by being unwilling at this time to link the project into a larger global framework. The Sierra Club said that they wanted only to present “facts” and since the project investors have not been identified, they couldn’t postulate in detail what the corridor may entail. Chris requested that the Sierra Club not do presentations to the public along the route unless they were willing to take on the full message of all the implications.
Update 9-13-12: Peter Vigue presents on how the East-West Corridor would benefit the industrial forest products industry at the SeaDog in Bangor. Chris attended with one other member of STEWC, while other members of STEWC and Friends of Piscataquis Valley protested outside. It cost $35 a person for non Forest Resource Association members to attend.
The Forest Resource Association is a very powerful forest products lobbying group nationwide.
During this event, Vigue’s primary arguments were 1) Fear based, messaging that if you don’t embrace this Corridor you will fail; and, 2) The Corridor would serve the just-in-time economy. Vigue promoted the corridor by saying that in the future, trucks will run off of Natural Gas, so despite Canadian competition Maine industry could compete. He encouraged people to keep an open mind to Canadian industry. He also stated that all the logging roads being used off the Stud Mill Road would remain accessible. Also, he stated in this presentation that the width of the Corridor would be only 500 feet the entire stretch of the state, that the corridor would not cross through any existing conservation lands including the Moosehorn, and therefore would not use the newest border crossing in Calais. Regarding a new crossing altogether, he said it’d be “a little north and a little west” of the recently completed one. A few audience members were vocally supportive, but I was told that many attendants did not believe that the E/W Corridor would benefit their business.
Update 9-12-12: Darryl Brown is now on staff at Cianbro as the Program Manager for the East-West Corridor. Darryl Brown was Paul LePage’s nominee for the Maine DEP, but had to step down due to numerous conflicts of interest.
We have heard that Brown is traveling around the state setting up private meetings with various companies and leaders in economic development. We believe that a couple recent Letters to the Editor in the Piscataquis Observer from Lincoln Pulp and Paper (already a supporter), and a manufacturing plant in Milo (sorry, can’t find the articles!) were a result of Brown’s networking.
Update 9-6-12: The link between Tar Sands pipelines and the East-West Corridor is confirmed!
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 more viable option for industry.
Now, Canada has expressed a desire to ship tar-sands oil to the refinery in St. John’s, placing tremendous pressure on the development of the East-West Corridor through Maine.
Update 9-5-12: We had a STEWC Steering Committee meeting.
Update 9-4-12: Tonight, the town of Monson made history by unanimously voting for a 180-day moratorium on private highways and supercorridors. A huge slap in the face to East-West Corridor promoters, a way to spread awareness of this issue and the significance of people’s concners, and a leadership step for other small communities facing this proposal.
If you want support to introduce a moratorium in your town, people from Monson will help you! Please contact Chris at 357-1443 or chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net for support.
Update 8-24-12: Chris did a public presentation for STEWC at the Blue Hill Library. Thanks to the Alliance for Democracy for hosting! We had a great discussion and started to talk about the importance of empowering communities to do visioning work so we all are imagining and creating what we want for our futures.
The original sponsor of the financial feasibility study, Senator Doug Thomas, asked Paul LePage to slow down the feasibility study. He said he had “stepped into a hornet’s nest,” hearing concerns about eminent domain and lack of information about the project. Thomas says he will introduce legislation to prevent eminent domain takings by private companies during the next legislative session. Thomas suggests slowdown (BDN).
Although this is a success, it was the only political option for Thomas, who wants to get re-elected. Additionally, there are still no contractors bidding on the feasibility study, so it is “slowed down” anyway.
In the articles, LePage says they will get more information about the East-West Corridor project, but there is actually no government avenue to do this at this time. LePage is saying the state will spend money to study a project so that the MDOT can pursue the financial feasiblity study of the project. What? LePage says the state will find facts.
Update 8-12-12: STEWC hosted an informational meeting to bring together members of the Eastern Region (Costigan to Calais) at the Penobscot Nation’s Community Center on Indian Island. Chief Kirk Francis welcomed attendants. Many thanks to the Chief, Maria Girouard for coordinating, and the Penobscot Nation for allowing us to use that space.
Update 8-8-12: OneMaine, a brain-child of Elliot Cutler’s to foster discussion, sponsored a panel of transportation experts to answer questions from the public about the future of transportation in Maine. Although David Bernhardt from MDOT was supposed to attend, he withdrew last minute. Commissioner Bernhardt has been receiving pressure from STEWC members to answer questions publicly about the E/W Corridor since he went to St. Stephen’s, NB and advocated for the project with Peter Vigue last March.
Most of the panel experts, except for Maria Fuentes of the Maine Better Transportation Association who is a pro-transportation infrastructure lobbyist, expressed that the E/W Corridor was a confusing project, and they didn’t see the need for it, or the economic benefits to Maine.
Update 8-5-12: Members of STEWC made the cover of the National News section of the New York Times!
Update 7-18-12: Members of STEWC did a presentation at the Belfast Library to members of the public. The event was very well attended. Thanks to the NorthWoods Balladeer for starting the evening off with his protest song against the E/W Corridor!
Update 7-16-12: Members of Stop the East-West Corridor presented concerns about the exemption clause recommended by the Rights to Know Advisory Committee last year, excluding the public from access to information about public-private-parternship infrastructure projects. This exemption effectively prevents the public from accessing information from MDOT about the East-West Corridor project. People recommended that the Right to Know Advisory Committee recommend that this exemption be repealed from the public-private-partnership legislation. If the Committee adopts this recommendation to repeal, it would go before the judiciary committee in January with the legislature reconvenes. Thanks to the Committee for their time.
Update 7-14-12: DDATT and Stop the East-West Corridor hosted a Celebration of Local Economy and Public Forum at the Ridgeview Community School in Dexter. During the celebration, local businesses tabled and music, food, and much information and resources were provided by the public and Stop the East-West Corridor about the Corridor project.
At 6pm approximately 175 members of the public attended a panel discussion by several local and state representatives, as well as two members of Stop the East-West Corridor. Our press release is available here.
Update 6-5-12: Multiple members of the Coalition completed a factual and multifaceted presentation to the Piscataquis County Commissioner’s at their regularly scheduled meeting. Presenters were all from the county and represented their area of expertise, including: the railroad alternative, supporting organic farming, the negative impact on mills and mill workers, concerns of truckers, and legal concerns around eminent domain and the public private partnership law. Video coverage of the presentation will be available soon.
Update 5-31-12: The Coalition hosted a public rally and soap box prior to Peter Vigue’s first public presentation at the Foxcroft Academy Gym. The rally and soap box was the first public opportunity for people to mingle and express their thoughts and concerns about the Corridor project. Multiple media covered the event, although they labled concerned opposition as protestors. In reality, people with concerns shared information and materials to assist in the East-West Corridor campaign, and then attended the public presentation. Folks were encouraged to wear hunter orange if they were opposed.
At least 200 people came through the rally and soapbox. About 1000 croweded into the gym. Approximately half wore hunter orange, a huge grassroots success for the Coalition!
Critical to this event was the fact that the public microphone portion of the event was cancelled. According to one selectperson who found out about the change after arriving at the event, Vigue had approached town manager Jack Clukey just before the event and threatened to cancel if the public had access to microphones. Clukey submitted, unfortunately. Therefore, Vigue was able to pontificate and ask rhetorical questions to the crowd without anyone being empowered to respond directly. After a succcessful rally, the presentation was frustrating due to being silenced.
Update 5-15-12: Peter Vigue presented to the Piscataquis County Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting. Tom Lizotte, the Board chair from Dover Foxcroft, had originally said that the meeting would take place in the New County Courthouse, but later renigged, apparently due to concern that protestors may do damage to the $5 million building. Due to that decision, only eighteen members of the public were able to attend the Board meeting. The rest of the folks from Piscataquis County that came to show their Commissioner’s that they had concerns, held signs and dicussed their concerns with each other outside of the courthouse for the duration of the meeting. There were about 80 local people demonstrating opposition.
Later in the day, the coalition met thanks to the support and gracious hosts at the East Sangerville Grange, with over 40 attendants. We picked a name for the Coalition! STOP THE EAST WEST CORRIDOR. Onward!
Update 5-11-12: Peter Vigue was hosted by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce for $30 a person. Stop the East West Corridor members demonstrated outside to raise awareness of presentation participants that many local folks have concerns about the project. The police came by briefly to remind us all to be safe on the road and were great to work with. Thanks Chief.
Update 5-7-12: Success in one corner! The Sierra Club, amidst mounting pressure from members (nice job folks!), publicly came out in opposition to the east-west corridor. Link to BDN article. and Link to WLBZ 2 TV news coverage.
Update 5-1-12: Cianbro, Conroy Development Corp., and Jay Cashman Inc. announced plans to buy the old Moscow radar site. It may be part of the e/w plan as a communications corridor, due to the fact that Vigue states, “There are opportunities for the buildings on site that are potentially attractive to certain types of businesses,” Vigue said in a Cianbro news release last week. “There is isolation, which means good security. There is also a good supply of electricity which would be readily available for firms that require plenty of energy — to run large servers, for example.”” link to full article: http://www.renewablesbiz.com/article/12/05/cianbro-ceo-stoked-about-green-power
Update 4-23-12 thru 4-24-12: The University of Maine, Orono’s Center for Canadian American Studies hosted government officials, business-people, and academics to a two day conference entitled, “The Cross Border Economic Conference.” Chris attended both days. The panel was very pro-east-west corridor, with UMO President Ferguson expressing support in his welcoming speech, followed by Paul LePage’s economic advisor Paul Butera expressing support. On Tuesday, April 24, Peter Vigue gave a presentation on the East-West Corridor and also participated in a panel discussion. Here are multiple links to news coverage of the event:
Chris’s notes from the conference: (to be posted soon)
Update 4-12-12: Peter Vigue was hosted by the Women’s Transportation Seminar at the Senator Inn, Augusta, to present on the East-West Corridor. Defending Water encouraged all opponents to demonstrate outside in opposition. Although we did not get local news coverage, OccupyME TV, FreeRadio, and Lance Tapley covered the demonstration. Here is a link to the raw footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbU0YY1Y3-Q
Lance’s article: http://defendingwater.net/maine/2012/04/politicos-like-the-east-west-highway-how-about-the-public/
And a link to my notes from attending the presentation: http://defendingwater.net/maine/2012/04/notes-from-vigue-presentation-to-wts-senator-inn-augusta-4-12-12/
The Women’s Transporation Seminar’s Maine Chapter opened one year ago and is a cozy group of female professionals from MDOT, Cianbro, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Kleinfelder, HDR Inc., Maine Better Transportation Association, and the Federal Highway Administration. More background on the WTS: http://www.kleinfelder.com/index.cfm/news-and-events/press-releases/women-in-transportation-seminar-opens-maine-chapter-kleinfelder-helps-connect-northeastern-united-states-to-global-network/#.T5WQr9c4ZbE.email
Update 4-12-12: Chris attended a conference today called Maine’s Gateways to International Trade, sponsored by the Maine Maritime Academy’s Small Business Association. There was much information on trade, transporation, and logistics with a focus on ports and rails. For people interested in getting a glimpse into the global agenda of Maine’s port, rail, and industry, feel free to review my notes: (will be posted soon)
Update 4-5-12: Governor Paul LePage signed LD 1671 to officially sanction the MDOT to oversee a financial feasibility study of the east-west corridor. TV coverage and articles:
Update 3-29-12: Peter Vigue from Cianbro and David Bernhardt presented at a “Gateway to Opportunity” Luncheon in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, sponsored by the town of St. Stephen. Local people from Dover Foxcroft demonstrated outside to voice their concerns over the impact of a supercorridor running through their land. Article:
Update 3-22-12: The Senate and House approved LD 1671. Our strategy is now to focus on educating and mobilizing resistance along the route.
Update 3-13-12: Yesterday, April 12, the Senate passed LD 1671 by a vote strictly along party lines, 19 for and 15 against. Now it goes to the house. Keep contacting your reps! Articles: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/13/politics/senate-approves-east-west-highway-study-bill/
Update 3-9-12: Broadcast on MPBN of Peter Mill’s speech to the Cumberland Club. Peter Mills is the Director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, and stated that the toll would cost between $100-$200. Start listening at 22:55 minutes here: http://www.mpbn.net/OnDemand/AudioOnDemand/SpeakingInMaine/tabid/294/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3480/ItemId/20640/Default.aspx
Update 3-1-12: Canadian article notes concerns from U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the East-West highway, and border security. It states that the border station at Coburn Gore would need to be rebuilt. Just more taxpayer dollars funding this private project. http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/68558-maine-reviews-highway-proposal
Update 2-24-12 / LNG & Propane & Highway Info: Thanks to a wonderful investigator, we strongly suspect a link between the highway, Canadian fracking fields in Quebec and New Brunswick that would be connected by a LNG pipeline along this east-west corridor, and the proposed LPG tank in Searsport. Here is a summary: http://defendingwater.net/maine/2012/02/connections-found-between-east-west-highway-canadian-fracking-fields-and-searsport-lpg-tank/
And additional links on propane’s use in LNG: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2011/November/15111102.asp http://www.patexia.com/us-publications/20120042690/description/highlight/propane
Maps showing the fracking fields (hopefully more to come):
Update 2-16-12 / LTE examples: In a split vote at the work session on 1671, the Transportation Committee voted to pass the bill. Chris submitted additional testimony but was not asked to speak: http://defendingwater.net/maine/2012/02/ld-1671-work-session-testimony-talking-points-resource/
It now moves into the legislature. We believe that our hard work together resulted in the split vote, which will make it much more contentious on the floor. Stay tuned as we adjust our strategy for a floor fight. The best action right now, is to write Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor voicing your oppostion to the highway. Here are some examples (thank you for writing in!):
Update 2-14-12 / Press from Rally & Testimonies: The Rally and Testimonies were a success! Here is a link to our press coverage from the day: http://defendingwater.net/maine/2012/02/press-coverage-from-east-west-highway-rally-2-14-12/
and to our testimonies: http://defendingwater.net/maine/east-west-highway/testimonies-from-east-west-highway-hearing-and-work-session/
Update 1-27-12: Senator Douglas Thomas promoted the East-West highway to the Dover-Foxcroft selectboard on January 23rd. The Selectmen did not pass a resolution about the highway at this time, saying it was too early and there weren’t enough details. We ask: What exactly would the resolution be for? If you have more information, or can access the town notes, please let us know! Chris
Update 1-20-12: The Small Business Administration is looking to provide capital for “small businesses that need it.” There are two components of the article that are noteworthy.
1) The SBA opened up a loan guarantee program to mission-based and community lenders. Three groups applied for the program in Maine and were approved: Coastal Enterprises Inc., the Eastern Maine Development Corp., and the Northern Maine Development Corp..
As a primary proponent of the East-West Highway, it is critical to monitor what the Eastern Maine Development Corporation does with these funds.
2) In addition, the head of the SBA, Karen Mills, expressed that the Obama administration has an infrastructure proposal on the table, which would mean $200 million in projects for Maine.
With a pre-existing relationship with EMDC, and the East-West highway project needing funding, we must monitor this “infrastructure proposal.” If anyone has information please let us know! Chris
Link to SBA article: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/01/20/business/administration-seeks-to-increase-capital-for-small-businesses-that-need-it-mills-says/?ref=latest
Update 1-11-12: Yesterday, LD 1671, the bill to fund the study was supposed to go into work session with the Finance and Appropriations Committee. However, it was moved to the Transportation Committee and we are now watching to see when the work session will be scheduled. Representative James S. Gillray (R-Searsport) is on the Transportation Committee. Note below that it was the Searsport selectmen asking for support of the highway.
Here is a link to the bill, LD 1671: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_125th/billtexts/SP057001.asp
Update 1-7-12: Searsport selectmen ask Susan Collins to support the highway. If you live in Searsport, please talk to your selectmen. link: http://waldo.villagesoup.com/news/story/selectmen-press-senator-for-east-west-highway-development/477526
Update 12-16-11: A nonprofit transportation research group out of Washington D.C., TRIP, released a statement identifying “Maine’s 50 most needed transportation projects for economic growth.” #3 was the construction of a new east-west highway. TRIP is sponsored by “construction businesses, insurance companies, equipment makers, labor unions and other transportation-related organizations.” We believe TRIP’s role is to encourage private funding of the study, since funding from Maine taxpayers would be highly controversial, as we face severe cuts on social services. Chris related link: http://www.tripnet.org/state-info-reports.php?state=Maine
Update 12-12-11: Here is the link between Vigue / Cianbro, Mobilize Eastern Maine / Eastern Maine Development Corporation / the Action Committee of 50, and LR2358…! Brief summary: Cianbro doesn’t have the money for the feasibility study, and as part of this business group, wrote a letter to Legislators asking for an emergency bill (LR2358) to support funding. Senator Thomas had sponsored a bill to approve funding earlier that was voted down 2-8. This letter from EMDC was an appeal to reconsider. Thomas then sponsored the emergency bill and it passed 10-0. Chris
Update 1-25-10: On January 21, 2010, Representative Bruce MacDonald testified in favor of LD 1639, “An Act to Stimulate the Maine Economy and Promote the Development of Maine’s Priority Infrastructure Needs.” This bill became the Public-Private-Partnership law that is now preventing public access to information about the E/W Corridor. MacDonald’s testimony provides proof of Cianbro’s participation in developing the Public-Private-Partnership law. Here is a link to an unofficial copy of his letter. Here is a link to an article about MacDonald’s testimony.
More legal and legislative resources are available here.