"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
June 13, 2005
Alan Stearns, Senior Advisor to Governor John Baldacci, made a promise last year to Save Passamaquoddy Bay -- a 3-Nation Alliance consisting of Mainers, Passamaquoddy, and Canadians living around Passamaquoddy Bay -- that in order for the state to appear neutral on the subject of LNG while local communities arrived at a decision about such a facility in their location, no employees of the state would participate in any liquefied natural gas (LNG) meetings in Washington County until a proposal had been submitted by the developers to the state. This promise was challenged earlier this spring when Quoddy Bay LLC, its General Manager Donald M. Smith, and its public relations firm tried to bring a Department of Environmental Protection employee to four informational sessions they were sponsoring downeast. Reminded of his promise, Stearns acted to recall the employee, leaving the developer to hire a consultant from Texas.
Last week [week of June 511], Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, learned that the Washington County Council of Governments planned on having an LNG panel discussion as part of their annual meeting scheduled for this Thursday, June 16. Further, she learned that two of the panel members, Jim Dusch of the Department of Environmental Protection, and George LaPointe of the Department of Marine Resources would be participating on the panel, upon the recommendation and approval of Alan Stearns.
Objecting to this breech of promise, and noting that no proposal is yet before state officials, so his promise still needed to be enforced, Godfrey spoke with Stearns about his broken promise. Stearns replied that he had promised something completely different, saying that he had promised not to send state officials until a developer and a community had agreed on a proposed site, and that such a situation existed between Quoddy Bay LLC and Pleasant Point for a proposed site at Split Rock. Reminded that until the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved any agreements, that nothing final existed, Stearns maintained that sending state employees at this time was appropriate as part of the state starting a public education process. "We don't object to the ability of Dusch and LaPointe to express the deep responsibility their respective departments will have should a proposal be made," said Linda Godfrey, we believe they are persons of integrity and will follow all laws and regulations. However, we object to the state's participating at this time, as if the process was a done deal, which it is not. We don't object to the innocent plan the Council of Government had to explore the variety of issues that communities must investigate as part of the gathering of knowledge about LNG operations. We do, however, object to this meeting being manipulated to serve the purposes of the developer, with the state playing a supporting role."
Pulling wording from the Council of Government's public invitation, Godfrey quoted the discussion that led to Stearns' recommendation and approval of state employees participation. Godfrey also noted that the issuance of the invitation and Stearns' approval all took place before the recent signing of an agreement for the Split Rock LNG site. In fact, what Stearns was reporting today was in complete opposition to the facts of the invitation message, and the summary of the process stated by the event's organizers.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay members believe that Stearns has reneged on his word and has attempted to cover up his broken promise with contrived verbiage. The Coordinating Council of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, while supporting community education on the LNG process for over a year, has objected strongly to the state's participation in this week's program, and has made a formal request to the Council of Governments that they cancel the panel discussion portion of their program.Top