Press Release: Citizens Rally to Support Local, Not Corporate Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, September 15th, 2008 Noon

For More Information Contact: info@maineatlanticawatch.org or call 207-649-5980.
Background and Links:  maineatlanticawatch.org

CITIZENS RALLY TO SUPPORT LOCAL CONTROL, NOT CORPORATE CONTROL
Protest Targets Conference of New England Council of Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers

Bar Harbor, Maine. Members of the Public from both sides of the border are gathering for a
Rally on the Village Green in Bar Harbor at Noon on Monday, September 15.

The rally is in support of workers’ rights, clean air and water, a safe
and healthy environment, and the right of local communities to make the
decisions that determine their futures. People are gathering in opposition
to Atlantica, a NAFTA-style trade plan they see as a threat to workers,
the environment, and local democracy.

A Public Hearing is being held after the Rally to provide a place for
people to voice concerns, speak out, and share ideas about what is needed
to sustain healthy communities.

The rally is being organized in direct response to the Conference of New
England Council of Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, an invite-only
meeting, hosted by Maine Governor Baldacci this September 15 & 16 at the
Bar Harbor Club.

At the annual conference, the region’s Governors and Premiers meet in
order to discuss issues such as electricity, transportation, and the
economy, and to enact policy resolutions that call for specific actions by
state and provincial governments.

This private conference allows big business leaders an exclusive
opportunity to meet, golf, and dine with the Governors and Premiers. Event
sponsors include Penn National Gaming, which operates Hollywood Slots in
Bangor, AT&T, Waste Management, Bank of America, FPL Energy, liquefied
natural gas company Emera, law and lobby firm Pierce Atwood, Central Maine
Power, and Cianbro,

Citizens are concerned that this private meeting will exclude the Public
from important discussions that could shape the future of the region and
build the foundation for Atlantica.

Atlantica is a NAFTA-style trade zone proposed by the Atlantic Institute
for Market Studies (AIMS), a corporation and policy institute that works
with the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce and the Eastern Maine
Development Corporation
to promote Atlantica. Atlantica would include
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Eastern Quebec, New Brunswick,
Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

The AIMS proposal for Atlantica focuses on “deep integration” of the
economies of New England and the Canadian Maritimes that would occur by
building massive trade infrastructure throughout the Atlantica region.

Many of the business sponsors and presenters at the conference stand to
gain a great deal from Atlantica’s planned infrastructure expansion.
Event sponsors include companies involved with liquefied natural gas
operations, road building, coal power production, mining, oil drilling,
and waste dumping. Other sponsors include major law and lobbying
operations, as well as pharmaceutical, insurance, banking, and gambling
industries.

Deep integration of Atlantica would also involve “harmonizing
regulations,” creating regional trade agreements and laws that would
override existing local rules, threatening home rule and democratic
principles of local self governance.

Atlantica infrastructure projects promoted by AIMS include the proposed
private East-West Toll Highway, Super-Ports that could accommodate “Post
Panamax” cargo ships able to carry enough cargo to fill over 20 miles of
tractor trailer trucks end to end, biorefineries that could process
cellulose ethanol from genetically modified trees,  pipelines to carry oil
and natural gas, new nuclear power plants and the mines for the uranium
power them.  The framework also promotes liquefied natural gas terminals,
new waste dumps and incinerators, and new oil refineries.

“It’s ridiculous that we’re discussing these massive fossil fuel driven
infrastructures at a time when the threat of global climate change
increases
and oil prices are sky rocketing. As a matter of survival, we
must decrease our dependence on the industries and institutions that are
destroying the planet,” said Jessie Dowling, of Rising Tide North America,
“If the massive backward looking projects associated with Atlantica are
allowed to move ahead, we will be squandering essential time and money
that could be used to build self-sustaining communities.”

Atlantica’s tag-line is “Business Without Borders.” Harmonized regulations
would serve to break down these borders by dismantling minimum wage laws,
privatizing education and health care, and overriding locally-made
decisions like bans on spreading hazardous sludge and burning toxic waste,
protections from liquefied natural gas operations, protections from
genetically engineered organisms, worker’s rights protections, and limits
on commercial water extraction.

As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives wrote in a comprehensive
2006 report, “This thinly-disguised attack on working people, public
services, social programs, and democratic decision-making is very
revealing about what underlies the Atlantica agenda.  The overarching
problem is that there’s no transparency, there’s no participation with
civil society. They’re talking about scaling back policies and regulations
that working class people have fought and struggled for, things like
minimum wage and environmental regulations.”

Massive infrastructure development would require billions of dollars in
funding.  Funding for Atlantica could come from increased taxes, reduction
or elimination of minimum wage, cuts in funding
for public transportation and health care, privatization of public
places and public services.

“Atlantica benefits big business at the expense of local economies, small
farms, workers, the environment, our health, and the sovereignty of our
local communities,” said hillary Lister of Maine Atlantica Watch. “The
governors and premiers, whose salaries are paid with Public tax dollars,
should take time to find out how they can help protect the safety and
health of the local communities they are supposed to represent, rather
than spending their time in private golf meetings and promoting grand
schemes that hand the region’s wealth over to multinational corporations.
Monday’s Rally and Hearing will give them a chance to hear the people’s
voices.”
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