MAINE COMPASS: Is the east-west highway a plan to exploit Maine for energy triad?
Chris Buchanan, published 3-12-12 in the Morning Sentinel
Canada is developing natural gas fracking fields in Quebec and New Brunswick, and a liquid petroleum gas tank is proposed for Searsport.
We are concerned about whether the proposed east-west highway might be destined to become a supercorridor to transport LPG in trucks to Canada and natural gas by pipeline along the highway to the Maritime provinces for export.
The east-west highway route through Maine connects both the Canadian fracking fields adjacent to Maine, so it could be highly profitable for the investors in the east-west highway to run a natural gas pipeline along the highway. This would provide even greater returns for highway investors, in addition to tolls they would receive from Canadian transport trucks.
The proposed Searsport LPG storage facility comes into the picture because of new fracking technology developed by GasFrac, a Canadian energy company, which uses a thick gel made from propane, rather than water, to force the natural gas out of the shale rock.
LPG is a mixture of propane and butane.
“This is a game changer for the industry,” says Don LeBlanc in a November 15 article in Chemistry World. LeBlanc is the “principal consultant at Eastex Petroleum Consultants in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has been involved in shale gas trials with gelled propane in New Brunswick.”
So far gelled propane has been used about 1,000 times, mostly in Canada.
From an investor’s prospective, under this scenario, an LPG tank in Searsport is a great idea. From there, the propane can be trucked to Canada via the east-west highway to use for fracking shale gas. Then the natural gas produced by the fracking could be transported to the Canadian Maritimes via a pipeline built along the east-west highway.
Indeed, Peter Vigue of Cianbro announced his vision to use the highway as a multiuse corridor during his presentation to the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee during the public hearing on Valentine’s Day.
This larger energy scheme would benefit private investors, but lead to further exploitation of Maine as a supercorridor throughway with only two proposed exits for the whole state.
Yet the people of Maine would have no voice in how this private toll road was built or managed.
Nor would the state and federal regulatory agencies be concerned about the environmental impacts of fracking or the safety of the new technology using highly flammable propane.
This is a highly organized energy triad, poised to make a few people very wealthy at the cost of Maine’s people and the land we need to survive.
We wondered why Searsport selectmen supported the east-west highway, but now we see how the pieces can fit together in a highly profitable way.
Instead of locking Mainers into a supercorridor dissecting the state for foreign profit, our legislators need to step back and identify what the people of Maine need to thrive over the long haul.
Giving priorities to Canadian businesses and multinational corporations that do raw resource extraction is not the way. Public funding for private investment, at the added cost of individual rights and local control, is not the way.
We need to create a long-term vision that values Maine’s strengths — how we can benefit from our priceless ecological beauty and how best to use Mainers creativity, work ethic and passion to create lasting jobs for the people and families of Maine.
Chris Buchanan of Belgrade is a grassroots organizer for Defending Water for Life in Maine, a project of the Alliance for Democracy to protect water for life, not for profit, by supporting community-led initiatives. Visit www.defend ingwater.net/maine/