On May 12 after a nearly 4 year battle, Fryeburg, Maine lost its appeal in the Maine Supreme Court to Nestle Waters North America, confirming the Maine Public Utility Commission’s initial approval of a 45 year contract for the bottled water giant to mine water from the small White Mountain community, despite overwhelming opposition among area residents.
On the other side of the country, Hood River County, Oregon, handily defeated Nestle’s proposal for a bottling plant. Here is the press release from David Delk, President of the Alliance for Democracy, Portland, OR and co-chair of the national Alliance for Democracy:
Oregon voters Tuesday in Hood River County delivered a stunning defeat to Nestle.
In the epic battle between Nestle and people around the world to protect their access to water, little Hood River County in Oregon just achieved a major and unique victory. And Alliance for Democracy was a part of that, having provided volunteers and financial support over the course of eight years.
Nestle had proposed building a bottled water plant in the Columbia River gouge town of Cascade Locks, using over 100 million gallons of publicly-owned water a year, and creating more than approximately 1.6 billion plastic water bottles each year. Cascade Locks, hoping to develop its tourist industry, would have suffered over 200 daily truck trips on their roads. Cascade Locks is located at the western edge of the nationally renowned and protected Columbia River Gouge. Opponents to Nestle’s plans also stressed the detrimental effects extracting this pure cold spring water would have on salmon, considered a bellwether species by Native Americans.
Nestle promised up to 50 low-tech jobs and an increase in the town’s tax base.
But a coalition of residents, farmers and Native Americans organized in opposition and today were successful in saying “No to Nestle, the water belongs to the people, not a water privateer.”
On an initiative question, Hood River county voters were asked to approve a novel measure to ban the commercial bottling and transport of water in quantities greater than 1000 gallons daily. And today they voted 69-31% to approve the initiative measure.
“Today victory at the ballot shows that when the people organize to stop corporate domination, we can win,” said David Delk, President of the Alliance for Democracy, Portland, OR and co-chair of the national Alliance for Democracy.
Susan Sharon reports on wind development in Maine’s Unorganized Territory.
Townships and plantations in Maine have until June to opt out of being an “expedited permitting area” for wind development. Already there are nearly two dozen petitions that have been received by the Land Use Planning Commission.
Another 18 petitions are in circulation. But the agency is also hearing from large landowners who want to prevent the removal process from going forward without a formal review.
This is the first time since the Wind Energy Act was passed by the Maine Legislature in 2008 that residents of the Unorganized Territory can take steps to remove themselves from expedited wind permitting areas of the state. Last year lawmakers agreed to give them a six-month window to do so. The clock began ticking in January, and planning manager Samantha Horn Olsen of the Land Use Planning Commission says so far, the numbers are about what was expected.
“There are several hundred townships and plantations in the jurisdiction and so the number could be higher, however there places that are being considered for wind energy development where people are more likely to be interested and then others where that might not be so much of an issue,” she says, “and so you may not see people be interested in filing a petition.”
Getting a township or plantation removed from the expedited area does not ensure that a wind project won’t be developed, but it does mean that developers have to get zoning approval before they apply for a permit, something that is not currently required.
To qualify for removal, petitioners need to collect at least ten percent of residents’ signatures, based on the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election. In some places that might only be a handful.
Chris O’Neil of the group Friends of Maine’s Mountains has been trying to get the word out that there’s a June 30 deadline for what he calls a “unique opportunity.”
“We estimate that about 70 areas should take action on this,” he says. “Looking at the spreadsheets and the maps really lets you know that almost everywhere wind development wants to go there are people who live fairly close by.”
The process also gives stakeholders, such as landowners who object to removal, the opportunity to request a formal review.
And Patrick Strauch of the Maine Forest Products Council says he’s aware of several large landowners, members of his organization, who are concerned about how a land use designation change would affect their property and its future potential uses. They are now requesting formal review.
“The landowners have looked at the petitions that have been filed and figured out where there are areas they want to contest those petitions and that’s just the path we’re following that we set up through the legislative process,” he says.
Their request for review requires the Commission to confirm the residency of the petitioners, take comments and possibly hold a public hearing. Horn Olsen says it also requires the Commission to see if the petition for removal meets two fundamental criteria.
“The first one is that the removal of the place will not have an unreasonable, adverse effect on the state’s ability to meet the state goals for wind energy development,” she says. “And the second criterion is that it’s consistent with the principal values and the goals of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.”
The Wind Energy Act was designed to cut through multiple layers of bureaucracy in a specific zone. But O’Neil says it neglected to give people who live in the area a voice. And he says it’s possible disputes over the the process for removing townships from expedited wind development will wind up in court.
MAINE’S GROUNDWATER: Day of Reckoning on March 1, 2016. Come bear witness – this is it!
The Maine Supreme Court will be hearing final oral arguments at the Cumberland County Courthouse (205 Newbury St Portland, ME 04101) regarding the 45 year contract between Nestlé and the Fryeburg Water Company on Tuesday March 1 at 1:30pm. Be sure to arrive early as you will have to pass through security to enter the courtroom.Over 3 years ago, in August 2012, it came to light that Nestlé (for their Poland Spring brand) was pursuing a precedent setting ’45 year’ exclusive contract with the Fryeburg Water Company (FWC). The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) commanded this case with conflict-of-interest commissioners at the helm. Our community did not get adequate administrative relief in this case. Ultimately, after a long struggle, the MPUC approved the case but is not yet final because we filed this appeal.If this appeal fails, Nestlé will have unfettered access to our community’s groundwater, which gives this multinational corporation an upper-hand over our life-giving resource for decades to come. ALL OF MAINE is at risk. We do not have adequate groundwater laws protecting us from bulk water mining which entitles Nestlé to exploit and compromise our resources. This is especially concerning with new international trade agreements being considered as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that would affect us.Please come to the courthouse and join us in observation of the process to which our water rights in Maine may be encroached upon by a global water predator… however, NOT WITH OUR CONSENT!!
A lot can happen in 45 years. With prolonged drought and other meteorologic conditions due to a changing climate, the inevitable changes in the water market or with the sustainability / quality of the water supply, we have great concern. Such predatory features of this contract have great potential to harm the local rate payers, the FWC and all others depending on the aquifer to sustain themselves.
Here are some examples of (though not limited to) some facts of the contract under appeal:CONTRACT FACT: The length is for 20 years, with option for 5, 5-year extensions for a total of 45 years with NO public input. There is no process outlined in granting the extensions.CONTRACT FACT: The annual MINIMUM extraction is 75 million gallons. There is no upper limit in the terms.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé can terminate this contract in 2 years while the Fryeburg Water Company must give 5 years notice.
Consider: Imbalanced; giving advantage to the more powerful party.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé’s bulk extraction can not be reduced or suspended for “no greater duration and to no greater extent, than what Fryeburg Water Company suspends or reduces its water sales to (local) commercial and industrial customers”.
CONSIDER While Nestlé can easily extract water from its other worldwide sources, where will Fryeburg’s businesses get their water? This deal grossly favors Nestlé, which does not reside locally, over the local businesses the Fryeburg Water Company is supposed to serve.
CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé will pay the same tariff rates as the local customers. Additionally, they are on a prorated pay scale – the more they pump, the less they pay per unit.
CONSIDER: Nestlé gets its water from all of well #1 and most of well #2. These wells are designated “spring water”. The local rate payers can get some water from well #2, and all of well #3. Well #3 is not designated as spring water and is near old industrial sites. There is obvious economic value to spring water and Nestlé has to receive significant value from advertising and using this asset. The local rate payers are subject to the same rate scale, but don’t get valuable “spring water”. For example, if a micro brewery wanted to start up in Fryeburg it could not gain the economic benefit of advertising that it brewed with “spring water” but it would be subject to the same rate structure as Nestlé.
(*The public advocate made the point that under the new payment structure Nestlé would be paying only $1.00 per thousand gallons, half of what they were previously paying).
CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé is the only allowed purchaser of bulk water in the proposed contract.
CONSIDER: By being tied to Nestlé for 45 years, the FWC has lost a very valuable competitive advantage. In most other states water is becoming scarcer which the FWC could use to its advantage in negotiating bulk water sales with other large purchasers.
CONTRACT FACT: It permits Nestlé to locate a new water source for the town of Fryeburg off it’s own aquifer.
CONSIDER: How will that affect the rates and infrastructure maintenance in the future if we have to move the town to a different aquifer? Why should Nestlé be permitted to over-pump so that we no longer have access to our own aquifer? Is this not legalized theft of our water resources?
Our water commons need protection and not exploitation.
We need our life-giving resources under a public trust to never be privatized.
Thank you. Please pass this on to spread the word.
Defending Water for Life in Maine and Stop the East-West Corridor are fully committed to supporting the Penobscot Nation in their fight to maintain their River. Below is an urgent update and call to action from Penobscot historian, activist, and founder of Dawnland Environment Defense, Maria Girouard:
Last week, Maine Governor Lepage escalated the river dispute between Penobscot Nation and state government by calling on our elected officials in Washington to “intervene” (…interfere…) in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to protect Penobscot fishing rights and ensure a clean, healthy river for all. (letter attached)
I’m sharing an essay (also attached) so you can decide whether Lepage is acting on your behalf. For those who feel compelled to help Penobscots and the beautiful River we all love, addresses for our Washington delegates are provided below. I encourage you all to raise your voices. They heard from Lepage, now they should hear from the People. And if you’d like to send words of appreciation or a thank you note along to the Environmental Protection Agency for protecting the health of the Penobscot River, that address is provided below as well. 🙂 Please feel free to share this communication far and wide to help sound the alarm about the looming threat of industrialization and accompanying territorial theft at the hands of state government. There is a quote attributed to Elie Wiesel: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I implore you to please do something…. for the Water, for the Grandchildren.
Kci Woliwoni (“Great thanks”)
Senator Susan M. Collins
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Angus S. King
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D 20510
Congressman Bruce L. Poliquin
426 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Congresswoman Rochelle M. Pingree
2162 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 201515
To send words of appreciation or a thank you note along to the Environmental Protection Agency for protecting the health of the Penobscot River:
Mr. H. Curtis Spalding
USEPA REGION 1 – New England
5 Post Office Square Mail Code: ORA
Boston, MA 02109-3912
A million thanks to you for caring! ><)),> ~ ~ ><)),> ~~ ><)),>
Due to file size constraints the File Attachments mentioned are archived at:
0831 Governor Letter to Senators and Congressmen ‘Clean Water Act’
The bill that is expected to prevent future development of Cianbro’s East-West Highway and Industrial Corridor idea passed into law unsigned by the Governor on June 26. The bill revises the controversial public-private partnership law for transportation projects to clarify that P3’s must comply with Maine’s Sensible Transportation Policy, which has guided Maine Transportation Policy and the Department of Transportation since 1991. The bill, LD 1168 was sponsored by Senator Paul Davis, R-Piscataquis, and broadly supported by opponents to the East-West Corridor, environmentalists, sportsmen and women, and small business owners. Opponents say that requiring Cianbro’s East-West Corridor proposal to meet the criteria outlined in the Sensible Transportation Policy Act will be impossible for the developers.
“We’ve been following this for over 3 years,” said Stop the East-West Corridor’s statewide coordinator Chris Buchanan. “We have read Cianbro’s proposal and attended most of Peter Vigue and Darryl Brown’s presentations, and we’ve been honest with people about what they say. Most people don’t like the idea.”
“This law makes it necessary for Cianbro, or any other private development corporation, to have public support before moving forward with a significant transportation project that profits them.” The bill created a reporting requirement so that both lawmakers and the public are informed annually by the Department about contracted public-private partnerships. “We believe that is important for transparency and accountability,” said Buchanan.
“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 sorely lacking. 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,” Buchanan said.
“It is remarkable that so many local residents are taking the initiative to protect themselves. It is telling how many people feel threatened and left vulnerable by Maine’s existing state laws. LD 1168 creates some protection for people who don’t want the highway part of Cianbro’s Corridor plan,” Buchanan said.
Over the past three years, Stop the East-West Corridor has focused on developing resources, advocating for transparency, and supporting a statewide coalition of decentralized local resistance to the proposed East-West Corridor. The website, stopthecorridor.org, describes members as, “A coalition of Maine residents.”
Panawapskewi (“Penobscot people”) are the indigenous people of this territory, and have nurtured a relationship with and maintained a presence on the Penobscot River for thousands of years. We are an ancient riverine people who have survived enormous losses as a result of colonization – displacement of our ancestors, destruction of our fisheries, degradation of the Water, deforestation of traditional hunting grounds, and disruption in our traditional form of governance.
A Colonial Agreement: In exchange for Penobscot alliance in the revolutionary war, colonial government agreed to protect Penobscot territory from encroachment and to preserve Penobscot aboriginal territory for their perpetual use so that traditional sustenance lifeways could be maintained. (Perpetual: meaning forever, never to be changed). This agreement is recorded in the 1775 Congressional Resolves. Following the war, there was a large war debt. Abundant Penobscot resources proved too tantalizing to resist.
Treaties were negotiated: Treaties are nation-to-nation agreements negotiated between sovereigns. The Treaty of 1796 and the Treaties of 1818 and 1820, ceded portions of Penobscot territory but the river and the fisheries were never relinquished. Historical records reveal multiple pleas on deaf ears about destruction of the fisheries and decimation of hunting grounds leading to Penobscot starvation.
Treaties were broken: An 1801 petition to colonial government declared, The Penobscots “feel themselves and their Tribe greatly wronged and injured by a Mr. Winslow and his two sons of Portland erecting a sawmill at the Falls in Penobscot … when the government secured to their Tribe and their descendants the aforesaid island with other islands in the Penobscot River with all their natural rights and privileges, the Fishery was esteemed the most important advantage attached to their island and which no individual could deprive them of – they would therefore humbly request your excellent and honor in your wisdom to prevent an Evil so great as would be the total ruin of the tribe.”
In the 1940s, Penobscot Elder Florence Nicola Shay spoke out against the state and broken treaty promises – “The treaties are merely useless pieces of paper today as all promises have been broken… we are a segregated, alienated people and many of us are beginning to feel the weight of the heel that is crushing us to nothingness. We are still in slavery, we are dictated to, and we are made to feel that we do not own our own souls.”
A major turning point in tribal-state history: In the 1970s Penobscot & Passamaquoddy tribes sued the State of Maine for theft of aboriginal territory which had left them displaced and impoverished. The 1794 Trade and Non-Intercourse Act, a federal law aimed at curbing massive land grabs, had been ignored. The law required any and all land transactions with an Indian person or tribe be ratified by Congress. Since Maine had become a state in 1820, no land transactions were ratified; therefore, all were null and void. Following a tumultuous decade riddled with overt racial hostility and fear-mongering played out in the press, the State of Maine, the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy tribes negotiated a settlement agreement resulting in the federal 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. The Settlement Act was intended to stop the further taking of Indian Territory and to strengthen tribal sovereignty and tribal-state relations, but like all agreements that preceded it, it, too, was broken and little was settled.
Territorial takings are not a thing of the past: In August 2012, Penobscot Chief and Council received a letter from state government asserting an Attorney General’s opinion – that the Penobscot Indian Reservation did not include any portion of their ancestral River. An opinion with which Penobscot Nation could never agree. Interestingly, this new opinion was contrary to a previous Attorney General’s opinion (AG James Tierney, 1988) which stated that the Penobscot River was reservation territory (?!)
Penobscot Nation v. Mills, is a current U.S. district court case to protect Penobscot fishing rights. It has a large cast of characters! The Penobscot Nation, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the United States Department of Justice, and 17 intervening towns and industries up and down the River. Until recently, the case had 18 interveners, but on April 1, 2015, in an amazing act of humanity, the Town of Orono filed a motion to withdraw from the case. After deliberation, their town council admitted to knowing very little about how they got involved; they concluded that their participation was unnecessary, and decided that they did not wish to be in contentious litigation against the Penobscots. The remaining interveners are: the City of Brewer, Town of Bucksport, Covanta Maine, LLC, Town of East Millinocket, Great Northern Paper Company, LLC, Guilford-Sangerville Sanitary District, Town of Howland, Kruger Energy (USA) Inc., Town of Lincoln, Lincoln Pulp and Tissue LLC, Lincoln Sanitary District, Town of Mattawamkeag, Town of Millinocket, Red Shield Acquisition LLC, True Textiles, Inc., Veazie Sewer District, and Verso Paper Corp. Led by Pierce Atwood attorney, Matt Manahan, these interveners are asking a judge to determine that the Penobscot reservation does not include any portion of the Water. The U.S. Department of Justice intervened on behalf of the Penobscots, viewing this as an attempted territorial taking by the State of Maine which they have a duty to protect against.
Confusing an already complex issue: Happening alongside Penobscot Nation v Mills, is a battle between the State and the federal Environmental Protection Agency over water quality in Indian Territory. Last summer, the State of Maine sued the EPA demanding jurisdiction over water quality in Indian Territory. In February 2015, the EPA agreed that according to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, the State of Maine did in fact have jurisdiction over water quality, but since Penobscots retained an inherent right to sustenance fish, the water quality in their reservation had to be sufficient to safely consume fish. The State has again sued the EPA and stated that they have no intention of complying with the order to clean up the Penobscot.
Gaining Support: Penobscot Nation has gained thousands of allies but could use more! This case has gained the interest and support of numerous social justice and environmental organizations who agree that Maine must cease and desist its aggression. Maine priorities should be elsewhere – not in continued territorial takings and suing for the right to pollute. Together, we are writing our Grandchildren’s history (and protecting their Drink). Let’s make it a history that will make both them and the ancestors proud!
Let your voices be heard: Call on our state to stop its hostilities and respect tribal fishing rights.
Attorney General Janet T. Mills, 6 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333
Governor Paul LePage, Office of the Governor, #1 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
On Tuesday, May 26, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy leaders pulled their representatives from the Maine Legislature as part of a decision to work together, and follow their own leadership within their territories from here on out. It was an historic moment of bravery and leadership by the Tribes.
On May 23, 2015, people converged on the Penobscot River in Bangor to show their support of the Penobscot Nation’s rights over its ancestral territory- the waters of the Penobscot River. The State of Maine issued a letter to the tribe in 2012, redefining the Penobscot’s territory to NOT include the River itself, a direct departure from historical treaties and previous interpretation of treaties and the Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980 by the State of Maine.
Around 150 people were present in boats or on shore to demonstrate their support. Following is a video, news coverage, and photos of the event: