"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
November 2, 2005
A federal lawsuit charging four separate violations of U.S. federal law was filed on Wednesday, November 2nd in the U.S. District Court for Maine in Bangor. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Protect Our Land), an affiliate of Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance, and six members of the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy community.
The suit names as defendants Robert K. Impson, Acting Regional Director, Eastern Region, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Gale Norton, Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior.
The suit challenges Defendant Impson's approval on June 1, 2005 of the "Ground Lease" to Quoddy Bay LLC to allow construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal at Split Rock at Pleasant Point.
The suit alleges that Defendants violated the following federal laws in the process of approving the Quoddy Bay lease:
The suit seeks an order setting aside the Quoddy Bay LLC lease and directing the BIA to fully comply with all applicable laws.
The plaintiffs’ ultimate objective is to reopen the lease decision and provide an opportunity for all tribal members to vote on whether this project is truly in the best interests of the community based on sound environmental and economic information.
The lawsuit is being handled by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School with Director Patrick Parenteau acting as lead attorney.
Members of Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon, who are plaintiffs in this lawsuit, will hold a news conference at 11:00am ET on Thursday on November 3 at Split Rock (From US-1, follow Route-190 east to the eastern-most edge of the reservation, near the wharf. In case of bad weather, the news conference will be held on the second floor of the Tribal Housing Authority Office, which is across the street from Beatrice Rafferty School entrance, and next to St. Ann’s Church.)
Persons wishing to have a complete electronic or paper copy of the lawsuit may contact the US District Court for Maine in Bangor (207-945-0575). (Hard copies are 50¢/page. Electronic copies require a free PACER account, <http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html> but cost just 8¢/page. To access documents with a PACER account: <https://ecf.med.uscourts.gov/>.)
Speaking about the lawsuit, Madonna Soctomah, Media Coordinator for Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon said: “The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Department of the Interior have been negligent in their Trust Responsibility in safeguarding our tribal land from potentially harmful corporate development. Let it be known that we will do our utmost to safeguard the last vestige of our communal land. We stand in solidarity in opposing any government, department, or policy that threatens our land. We are connected to the land; the land is connected to us.”
Vera Francis, coordinator of Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon said, “Since the moment this proposed LNG crept into our community, Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon has had a clear vision, and that vision is in our name which translates to “We Protect Our Land.” Today, we have made concrete our vision. We are extremely clear about our actions, and we will follow this legal process to its conclusion.”
Francis continued, “ Our Passamaquoddy people, and all of Maine’s people can do better than unsustainable projects like LNG. We are entitled to our lands, our waters, and that which sustains us. Bringing projects like LNG into Passamaquoddy Bay will cause destruction now and for generations to come. LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay is neither about an economic nor energy crisis, it is about a leadership crisis.”
“All people statewide need to come to grips with, and speak out about, the current direction of Maine’s top leaders who are trying to usher into Maine’s coastal communities this degrading and dangerous project. Other coastal communities have spoken about their determination to keep LNG from their shores and homes, to protect their lives and livelihoods. Today, we join our voices with theirs and say that we don’t want LNG in our community and we will not tolerate illegal actions which have tried to force this upon us. We will not be alienated from our homelands and our ancestral waters Passamaquoddy Bay.”
“This legal action is not just about us and our neighboring communities. It’s implications are much broader. We vow to be silent no more. We will speak now with the voice of the law, and we will use all legal avenues open to us to save this bay which is the source of our very existence. We will protect and defend Passamaquoddy Bay,” Francis concluded.
In speaking about Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon’s Federal Law Suit, Linda Godfrey, Coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay said:
“Save Passamaquoddy Bay is a 3-Nation Alliance U.S., Passamaquoddy, and Canadian. Today, we stand together with our Save Passamaquoddy Bay - Pleasant Point members, who named their efforts Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Protect Our Land), in their decision to bring forward this act of justice in response to two years of intrusion, interruption and injustice that has surrounded the issue of proposed LNG operations on their tribal homeland. The filing of this legal action was an option from the first days that tribal members were excluded from the process. From the onset of the LNG proposal, our colleagues at Pleasant Point have made it clear that they were prepared to defend that which has sustained their people for generations their entitlement to Passamaquoddy Bay and Passamaquoddy land.
“Tribal members are defending their right to informed consent to any proposal which affects their land and resources, their lives and livelihoods. They are defending their right to control and manage their own resources. They are standing up against any proposal that negatively impacts their human and ecological health rights. They are asserting their civil rights to their fullest extent. They are maintaining that self-determination must be the basis for all development in their homeland.
“Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon is in a loud voice, calling out to Maine, to the nation and to the world to say that the failures of tribal leadership, the neglect of Maine state government, and the strong-arm tactics of LNG developer Quoddy Bay LLC have denied them their civil rights, due process of law, and basic justice. They have reached to the federal level, where they accuse the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Department of the Interior of the ultimate injustice. Their legal action demands a remedy. Their action also puts on notice all LNG developers, all state and federal permitting agencies, and all levels of government that their actions are being monitored and all legal safeguards will be utilized to protect Passamaquoddy Bay from LNG industrialization.
“Save Passamaquoddy Bay as an organization is pledged to protect the Quoddy Region. We will continue to be diligent in our efforts related to all LNG proposals which have surfaced in this area. Today, we strongly stand with our Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon partners in this particular legal action.”
Persons may access our website at www.savepassamaquoddybay.org for additional information.