"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
November 23, 2004
The Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club, representing 4900 members, and the Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club of Canada, with members in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, today urged Governor John Baldacci to heed the calls from Downeast citizens and take a stand against the proposed Pleasant Point LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal on the grounds that it would cause unwarranted environmental harm to marine ecosystems and economies, and would violate basic principles of environmental justice.
On February 23, 2004 the Maine Sierra Club Chapter sent a letter to the Governor urging him to take immediate steps to assure Maine citizens that at the earliest stages his administration will provide a transparent, thorough, and responsible evaluation of identified concerns, issues, and impacts associated with the proposed location of LNG facilities on Maine's coast, and that full public participation in siting decisions will be provided for at all stages of the decision making. "This has not happened," said Vivian Newman, Co-Chair of the Chapter's Conservation Committee.
In 1972 the Governor's Task Force on Energy and Heavy Industry on the Maine Coast, appointed by then-Governor Kenneth M. Curtis, reported that, "The essential quality and beauty of the coast should not be sacrificed to short lived advantages of particular resource, technological, or locational features."
"In our view, this principle still applies," said Conservation Committee C-Chair Joan Saxe. "Decisions about the siting of energy-related facilities on Maine's coast can only be made in the context of sound over-all land-use planning, should not proceed unless a definitive need for them has been demonstrated, and should be located as close as possible to load centers and on land or water that has little other productive value."
"To add an even greater sense of urgency to our concerns," said Newman, "the Bush Administration has been characterized by secrecy, authoritarianism, and a ‘public opinion be damned’ attitude. In its eagerness to serve the energy industry it is greasing the skids for these projects with little or no regard for vital coastal and marine habitat and economies, let alone other environmental and socio-economic values so important to affected communities. "Mainers should not be held hostage to this insiders' deal," she added.
Newman went on to say, "The Sierra Club fully supports the Indigenous Environmental Network's statement that corporate interests must not be allowed to trample over the inherent rights of the tribal members of Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon to preserve what is left of their homeland. IEN stands in solidarity with these concerned grassroots tribal members who are standing by their treaties in opposition to any further restrictions and interference of their hunting, fishing, gathering, trade and right to travel freely within their Passamaquoddy ancestral territory. We call upon all people with conscious and good moral judgement to stand with the concerned Passamaquddy tribal members to demand environmental and economic justice - and halt this proposed LNG facility."
"We are extremely concerned here in Canada about the numerous negative impacts of this project," said Mark Dittrick, Conservation Chair of Sierra Club of Canada's Atlantic Canada Chapter. "Given the location of the project just a stone's throw from the border and the tortuous and treacherous route LNG vessels will need to take to get to the proposed facility, this is very much a Canadian issue, and opposition to it is rapidly building over here. Safety concerns, the social justice issue on both sides of the border and the very real potential threat from shipping to endangered marine mammals and the marine ecosystem in general just begin the list of our concerns. I can't imagine for all manner of reasons how a worse site than this for this type of facility could have been chosen."
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