2005 December 6
"The Whole Bay Fund" campaign was announced Monday by the grassroots coalition Save Passamaquoddy Bay, a three-nation alliance.
The group is seeking support for a study that will provide a fair and balanced assessment of the potential socio-economic impacts of proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals on all communities surrounding Passamaquoddy Bay on the border between New Brunswick and Maine.
The 3-Nation Alliance U.S., Canadian, and Passamaquoddy has commissioned The Whole Bay Study to be undertaken by Yellow Wood Associates of St. Albans, Vermont. St. Croix Estuary Project Inc. (SCEP) of St. Stephen, will provide support for the Canadian portion of the study.
"The choice of Yellow Wood Associates in collaboration with SCEP comes from a desire to have an independent and thorough study," said Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay.
"This is a monumental study, and a huge investment for our grassroots alliance. We want to have the best information available for all communities and individuals. We want data that goes beyond what prospective developers have supplied.
"We want the hardest and most in-depth questions asked. We want a study that can stand up to scrutiny at the local, state, and federal levels and we want it to be international in scope."
In Canada, Art MacKay, Executive Director of the St. Croix Estuary Project Inc. has more than 40 years professional experience in the area and will be leading the study.
"We're delighted to be part of the very first international socio-economic study; a study that will consider the whole Quoddy community; Canadians, Americans, and Passamaquoddies, rather than the limited, tightly focused studies that have been produced in the past. This is truly an international community and we believe that our future rests with successfully renewing relationships around the Bay.
"SCEP has over 12 years of experience in the Quoddy Region and works to foster a healthy environment for future generations in the Quoddy Region. It will be our role to collect socio-economic data for analysis by Yellow Wood Associates," said Art MacKay, Executive Director of SCEP.
"In addition, other issues that are strictly Canadian in scope will be researched and presented as position papers by SCEP in co-operation with other Canadian groups and individuals.
"These issues include, legal analyses of Canadian law, consideration of existing Canadian regulations and their application to passage of LNG tankers through Canadian waters, the obligation of the Canadian Government to protect the interests of Canadian citizens under the Canadian Charter, as well as the compilation of data on the environment and natural resources of the Quoddy Region in Charlotte County, N.B."
Yellow Wood Associates was selected for their approach using local real data rather than applying templates, simulations or routine models. Yellow Wood Associates completed a similar study in Harpswell, Maine for a group calling themselves "Fair Play for Harpswell."
Contacted for comment on the process, one of the group's coordinators, Amy Haible said, "From the start, no one representing the town or state government could tell us anything about the economic impact of the LNG proposal.
"No one else had really looked at the costs to the community not the town, not the state. Not a single public official asked the questions "what will this do to our fishermen, to our property values, to the tourism industry & no one asked what impact LNG would have on nearby island communities & schools, emergency assistance & No one, not even the state of Maine, had any idea what it would cost state and local officials to provide the required police, marine patrol boats and security to insure safe passage of LNG."
Haible continued, "we decided we had no choice but to commission our own independent study, and we agreed on two things: First, the study had to look equally at the costs and benefits of LNG because industry numbers looked only at the benefits. And, secondly, the study had to be accurate beyond doubt. We also agreed that whatever the study showed would be made public."
Of the resulting study produced by Yellow Wood Associates, Haible said, "The Yellow Wood report asked all those questions and answered them for us."
Believing that Passamaquoddy Bay communities and individuals are in need of a broad view and specifics related to the whole picture of LNG as it relates to the Quoddy Region, Save Passamaquoddy Bay members have adopted the same three commitments set out by the Harpswell group for the Whole Bay Study to look at costs and benefits, to be impeccable, and to share fully whatever is reported.
Shanna Ratner, President of Yellow Wood Associates, will lead the research team for The Whole Bay Study.
The status of the LNG industry and the proposals that have been made for various sites within the bay will be reviewed. Using these data as background, researchers will create a generic model of an LNG site on the bay in both qualitative and quantitative terms.
Economic, employment, and environmental impacts of a proposed LNG site will be assessed covering topics such as community infrastructure, public safety, property values, local government budgets, housing, air and water quality, public investment, fisheries, tourism, retail operations, transportation, public health, endangered species, sovereignty, freedom of access issues, and community.
Work on the study is expected to be completed by spring, 2006. Once complete, the study will be made available to Federal legislators and agencies in Canada and the U.S., Premier Bernard Lord, Maine State Governor John Baldacci, Passamaquoddy Chief Hugh Akagi and Tribal Governors Melvin Francis and Robert Newell.
Each local municipal government around the bay will receive the report, and area residents will have access to the entire study.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay calls upon all individuals, no matter if they support, oppose, or are undecided about LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay, to contribute financially to this base-line study.
New Brunswick Provincial and Maine State agencies, Regional and County economic and development organizations, municipalities, individual citizens, and even the developers and their investors are being asked to contribute to this international community study.
As the first study to address all international issues related to the proposed LNG operations, The Whole Bay Study will provide data and details that all parties concerned with economic development will find useful and valuable.
The Whole Bay Study will also form the foundation for future collaboration in the Quoddy Region. Plans call for promoting suitable, sustainable economic development for future generations through suitably-scaled, community-based businesses and community leadership.
Also, future plans call for protection programs designed to blend the local ecosystem, environment and economy by working with other organizations on habitat protection and environmental quality.
In Canada, anyone wishing to make a contribution to The Whole Bay Fund please contact: St. Croix Estuary Project Inc. at 89 Prince William Street, St. Stephen, N.B., 506-467-9905, email: , www.scep.org/WholeBay.html
Last week, researchers from the University of Maine's Department of Resource Economics and Policy and the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy released their findings regarding the projected fiscal and economic impacts of an LNG facility in Washington County.
The study found that the proposed project would substantially increase the local tax base, lowering current tax rates for the Town of Robbinston by approximately 69 per cent.
After the construction phase is completed, the study determined that operations of the facility would create 253 jobs statewide, amounting to $10.7 million per year in wages and benefits. A projected 187 of those jobs would be in Washington County.
The fact that the study was commissioned by Downeast LNG, the company that plans to build a terminal in the bay, has drawn criticism for its lack of independence.
Richard Barry, Coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay - Robbinston, said "Did any of these University of Maine staffers actually leave their desks in Orono and come to Robbinston, visit the proposed area, talk with local people, look across the narrow expanse to Canada, or seek to understand the whole picture? A true impact study would have covered all economic issues, plus the many other areas--from traffic and tourism implications to fisheries, homeland security, safety, property values, and a full range of possible health issues. This minimal study the University did in partnership with the developer has given the public a very unrealistic and incomplete view."
MacKay added, "As a life-long citizen of the Quoddy Region and a university graduate who thought that professional standards went with my degree, I was astounded to learn that the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Public Policy Center and the Department of Economics and Policy recently issued an "Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment" for the LNG facility proposed for Robbinston, Maine. The study was paid for by the proponents Downeast LNG. I have a hard time reconciling this as a grant, frankly, and I'm astounded that a superficial study like this is being published by a well recognized university. It truly looks like the U of M is now shilling for industry."
© 2005 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB