Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Don’t Choke on Our Democracy!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 15, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

Don’t Choke on Our Democracy! Rally 5:30 – Bar Harbor Regency

We will also be re-convening at 4:30 at COA in front of the library and marching over to the Bar Harbor Regency where the delegates will be eating dinner at 5:30.  Local Control and democratically enacted environmental and labor laws seem too much for the proponents of Atlantica.  We will rally outside their dinner at the Walsh House at the Bar Harbor Regency (next to the CAT ferry on Route 3/Eden St) and remind guests that democracy may be hard to swallow, but we will not accept corporate control and closed door meetings.

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

Posted in Uncategorized on September 15, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

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.”
##

Anti-Atlantica Educational Packets Available

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

Anti-Atlantica Educational Packets Available

Educational Anti-Atlantica packets are available for distribution or for personal use.

Please contact MaineAgainstAtlantica@riseup.net or send a message to request copies. Remember to include your mailing address!

Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

Gathering and Public Hearing on Atlantica
Sept 15 & 16, Bar Harbor


Don’t want to lose local communities to multinational corporations?
Then you don’t want to live in Atlantica.

Get involved, Learn more, and Let the Governors know what you think at
the:
Conference of New England Governors and
Eastern Canadian Premiers.
Hosted by Governor Baldacci.

Everyone is invited to meet at the Village Green in Bar Harbor at 11
AM on Monday Sept 15 and Tuesday Sept 16. Folks will be heading down
to the Bar Harbor Club for a Public Hearing after noon.
The Village Green is on the corner of Main and Mt Desert Streets.
The Bar Harbor Club is at 111 West Street.

What is Atlantica?

Atlantica is a NAFTA-style “free trade” zone that includes: Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Upstate New York, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, Prince Edward Island, & Newfoundland.

Atlantica’s motto is “Business Without Borders.”

Atlantica would take power from local communities and give it to big
money corporations.

Locally-made decisions like bans on spreading toxic sludge, bans on
burning toxic waste, protections from liquid natural gas operations,
and limits on commercial water extraction could all be eliminated by
Atlantica, if local decisions are considered a barrierto profit for
big business.

Funding for Atlantica could come from:
– Increased taxes
– Reduction or elimination of minimum wage
– Cuts in funding for things like Public Transportation and Health Care
– Privatization of Public Places and Public Services

Atlantica has a goal of Increasing Infrastructure.

Increased infrastructure could mean new highways bulldozed through
people’s land, like the proposed private East-West Highway, new
Super-Ports that could harm local fisheries, new oil pipelines, new
prisons, new nuclear power plants, and new dumps and incinerators.

The increased infrastructure could allow corporations to:
– Export massive amounts of “Natural Resources” like Water, Trees,
Fish, and Gravel overseas to Asia
– Sue towns, cities, and states for lost profits resulting from local
laws and ordinances considered to be a “barrier” to big business
operations
– Eliminate more Jobs by Mechanization and Outsourcing
– Import more Stuff that other places don’t want, like Toxic Trash.

Atlantica benefits big business at the expense of small business,
small farms, the environment, health, democracy, and local communities.

Bring signs, costumes, lunch, your voices, questions, and your friends!
For More Info:
Maine Independent Media Center, PO Box 1444, Waterville, Maine 04903 |
207-649-5980
hillary@maineindymedia.org
————

———————————————-

——-

Learn more:
http://www.aims.ca
maineindymedia.org/media/all/display/2287/index.php
http://www.mainefairtrade.org/atlantica.php
resist.stopatlantica.org
http://www.narconews.com/Issue46/article2691.html
profile.myspace.com/maineagainstatlantica
http://www.negc.org
http://www.scics.gc.ca

Taking Its Toll Is Maine ready for a North Woods highway?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

Taking Its Toll

Is Maine ready for a North Woods highway?

The asphalt was barely cool on the last four-lane section of Interstate 95 in 1981 when people in Maine began talking about building a matching superhighway from east to west. Over the decades since, the idea rose and fell almost as often as the tide, each time sounding plausible and each time always floating just beyond the fingertips of the possible.

Now the east-west highway is back again, this time with a twist. Rather than depending on public financing to upgrade existing highways in a jury-rigged network zigzagging across the state and bisecting dozens of cities and small towns, Peter Vigue, the president and CEO of Cianbro Construction Company, is proposing a privately financed and privately built toll road from Calais to Coburn Gore.

The billion-dollar, four-lane highway would run along the route of the privately owned Stud Mill Road between Baileyville and Costigan, then south of Moosehead to Route 27 north of Eustis. It would have no weight limits — unlike Interstate 95 north of Augusta — and allow tandem-trailer trucks. Its natural market would be the two thousand trucks that cross Maine’s borders with Canada each day and the four thousand more that make the trip over the top of the state on Canadian highways, along with other travelers looking to slice four hours off their travel time between St. John and Quebec City.

Vigue is convinced it will rebuild the economy of northern Maine, put the state square in the center of a major transportation trend, improve relations with Canada, and bring new energy sources into Maine. And he’s convinced it can be finished in five years.

This is no pie-in-the-sky midnight rambling. Cianbro is the largest construction company in the state, one of the largest in New England, with jobs under its belt from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. Its projects here have included building floating oil rig platforms on the Portland waterfront and the recently erected Penobscot Narrows Bridge between Prospect and Verona Island. Vigue says he already has support from a New York City bank, commitments from landowners along the route, a partnership with an international engineering firm, and Cianbro people on the ground in eastern Maine laying the foundations for the project. He’s working on the application process for the permits the project needs from the Land Use Regulation Commission and other agencies. He’s moving so fast that his plans haven’t even had time to generate much opposition from wilderness and conservation groups.

New public highway construction in Maine has dropped significantly in recent years. Costs have ballooned as petroleum and material prices have soared. Meanwhile, funding shortfalls due to lower fuel-tax collections have forced the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to concentrate on keeping up the roads it has rather than build new ones. If a new cross-Maine highway is to be built within the next few years — and there are many residents who question that need — the money for it will not come from public coffers.

Vigue says that frustration over a slow-moving state government and the fear of missing obvious opportunities have been prime motivators for his campaign. “I don’t think the state has the financial wherewithal anymore,” he says bluntly, “and it hasn’t demonstrated the necessary focus on an issue that’s very important.”

He also believes that a new highway would play an important role in rejuvenating the lagging economies and shrinking populations of northern and eastern Maine. “I travel a good bit out of state, and I see how robust the economic activity is out there,” he explains. “Every time I come back to Maine I say to myself, ‘why not here, too?’ ”

One reason, he believes, is the perception that Maine is the end of the road. “If you look at a map of the United States, one would conclude that we are out there at the end of nowhere,” he says. The truth, he counters, is that Maine is exactly in the middle of the combined New England-Maritime Canada commercial area, a region that some promoters have taken to calling Atlantica. “We’ve got location, location, location. We’re in a great spot, and we’ve got to think of ourselves in those terms,” he says.

Vigue first presented his ideas to top state officials three years ago, “but it didn’t spark a lot of attention,” he recalls. The proposal languished for more than a year until he learned that a new million-unit-capacity container port was being built in Melford, Nova Scotia, capable of handing super-large container ships too big for even St. John’s port facilities. Cargo arriving there would travel by road and rail throughout northeastern North America and as far west as Chicago and Toronto. “So if you look at what’s
happening there and you look at where Maine is, the question becomes, how do we capitalize on the opportunity this creates?” he asks.

Vigue talks about the project’s attributes with an almost evangelical enthusiasm, a fervor that echoes the excitement that once characterized the engineers of the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) as they described plans for an east-west highway back in the late 1990s. Today Greg Nadeau, deputy MDOT commissioner, speaks of “incremental investment” and “macro-level planning” by an MDOT that has been weakened by stagnating revenues and new pressures to maintain the bridges and highways it already has. “As we do projects along the east-west corridors we identified in our planning studies, we’re acquiring rights of way sufficient for future expansion,” Nadeau explains. “When traffic counts warrant it, we can go in and expand those corridors relatively easily.”

The most obvious improvement has been the rebuilding of large sections of Route 9, the infamous Airline between Brewer and Calais. The highway today is almost unrecognizable from the narrow, twisting, diving road that once terrified tourists and intimidated veteran truckers. Work recently began on a third border crossing in Calais that will speed the passage of commercial traffic between the two nations.

But the possibility of the state of Maine building an east-west highway recedes farther into the distance with each new funding analysis. MDOT’s most recent ten-year plan shows a shortfall of $2.2 billion just to maintain existing infrastructure, Nadeau says. The department and the legislature are studying the use of tolls and other alternative revenue sources, but they’ll be a tough sell to voters who already consider their highway taxes too high.

“I would say that we’re having a significantly difficult job of maintaining our current infrastructure with the funds available,” says Senator Dennis Damon, the Trenton Democrat who chairs the legislature’s Transportation Committee. “We just received a report that fuel-tax revenues were down in July and August by $3.5 million. That doesn’t portend well for the rest of the year. It’s unrealistic to me that we can add new infrastructure to our transportation system funded in a purely public way.”

Nadeau says he is somewhat familiar with Vigue’s toll-road idea, but he speaks cautiously about both its possibility and its impact on the state’s plans. “If such a highway were done privately, it obviously would change our strategic planning,” he allows.

It might do more than that. The state invested $70 million over fifteen years to rebuild the Airline to make it friendlier to Canadian truckers and tourists. The first section of Vigue’s toll road would parallel the highway along the private Stud Mill Road to the north. Competition from a four-lane, high-speed superhighway would turn the Airline into a minor local road again.

Damon has known about Vigue’s plan for almost two years, and he considers the idea feasible. “It’s something that bears serious discussion,” he says. “I suppose we would have to look for adverse public impact, but it’s hard for me to find any right now.”

“It all stinks,” declares Robert Kimber, of Temple. Kimber is a longtime member of the Friends of the Boundary Mountains, which has traditionally opposed earlier east-west highway proposals. He emphasizes that the organization hasn’t taken a position on Vigue’s specific proposal — “we’re up to our ears in wind power develop-ments right now” — but he calls it another example of the massive development pressures the North Woods face.

“The North Woods are being sold down the pike,” he says. “Look at Plum Creek’s plans for Moosehead Lake. They want to turn it into Winnipesaukee north. Now someone wants to build a new highway through here and spread development even farther. All these developments are just more nails in the coffin of the North Woods. The pressures on the Maine landscape are transformative and huge, and they’ll change the whole notion of what the North Woods have been.”

The last flurry of east-west highway activity dates to the late 1990s, and many of the organizations that formed to support and oppose the idea have either closed up shop or moved on to other issues. The phone number for the pro-highway Maine Citizens for Increased Jobs and Safety in Bangor has been disconnected, although the Web site is still live. The East-West Highway Forum Web site, a collection of articles and essays opposing the idea, was last updated in April 2004. Both the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Friends of the Boundary Mountains say they haven’t had time to analyze the new proposal in the press of dealing with issues ranging from wind-power development to Plum Creek.

Anti-highway activist Tim Sullivan, who was arrested several years ago while protesting a widening project on Route 1 in Warren, now manages a co-op and is involved in the local food movement. Sullivan questions the idea that a new highway would create jobs. “If that were true, places like Lewiston-Auburn and Medway would be thriving,” he argues. “Every town on I-95 would have more jobs than they can use.”

The battle over a new east-west highway “would be worse than Plum Creek,” Sullivan promises. “This project would be an environmental nightmare. And it would be amazing if they got every landowner along the route to agree. If they use eminent domain, the property rights people will jump all over them.”

Sullivan says that there’s a lot of “activist fatigue” in Maine due to ongoing controversies such as Plum Creek and the Iraq war. “But I guess if they’re lining up investors, it’s time to sound the battle cry. If [Vigue] is crazy enough to go forward with this, then he’ll have a fight on his hands.”

Rising energy prices and potential problems with oil supplies are arguments in favor of building the highway, Vigue says. “If we build this east-west highway, the Canadians will be very happy. It costs a minimum of a hundred dollars an hour to run a tractor-trailer truck. If you go over the top of Maine, that’s an extra four hours, four hundred dollars. If they think they could save four hours for a toll of fifty dollars, they’d jump on it,” he says. “And that means Maine gets a free highway.”

Whether Maine wants it or not remains to be seen.

Why Oppose the East West Highway?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

Why Oppose the East West Highway?

The idea of an east-west highway, spanning Maine’s girth like an asphalt belt from Calais to Coburn Gore, has been around in different forms for decades. But after years of study, proposals and “what-ifs,” the idea has gained new energy. Cianbro wants to build a private tolls road paving over large parts of Maine’s wilderness.

This is a proposal that will divide communities, destroy the environment and make parts of rural Maine look like anywhere, usa. The project is linked to the development of Liquid Natural Gas Terminals, Deep Water Ports, Plum Creeks disgusting development, and the deep integration of Atlantica that places our environmental and social protections at risk. Furthermore, it creates a private roard across Maine – infrastructure to support the death trap that is our fossil fuel economy.

Other Reasons to Fight the East-West Highway

Why the East-West Highway should be blocked:

* The rural beauty of Western, Central and Eastern Maine would be destroyed. Sprawl would become rampant and developments would take over the landscape.
The pollution would overwhelm our fragile ecology and result in an increase of health problems.

* The loss of taxable land would increase the burden on local residents. Homes and businesses would be destroyed, entire communities displaced by asphalt.

* Building four-lane, limited access highways in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to rural areas have never resulted in the increase of jobs or economy as promised by their proponents. Instead, the opposite has occurred, resulting in “rural flight” to urban areas.

* The East-West Highway would be built to benefit Canadian traffic – particularly trucks – traveling to and from the Maritimes. Maine was bisected seventy-five years ago by a Canadian rail line that was built to divert Mid-West grain traffic away from Maine ports. The highway will cost
Maine jobs, not create them.

* The railroad is a much more efficient and less polluting means of moving freight. Maine is crisscrossed by rail lines, many of which go unused – let’s utilize them for moving both freight and people.

* The Eastland Woolen Mill, Kimberly Clark paper mill, Striar Textile mill, Tree-Free paper mill, Etonic Shoe plant, Hathaway Shirt, Cascade Woolen Mill and now Great Northern Paper mill have all shut down in the last five years, and were all near I-95. What good did a four lane, limited access highway do them?

Adopted from http://www.east-westhighway.com/

East-west highway gaining traction? (Press Herald)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2008 by maineatlanticawatch

East-west highway gaining traction?

<!–

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A new route across the state has been talked about for decades, but this time around, a number factors could make it happen.
By MATT WICKENHEISER, Staff Writer
<!– © Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. :ap –>
April 6, 2008  Click for Full Article

Lincoln Paper and Tissue puts 150 tractor-trailers on the road each
week, down I-95 through Bangor, Augusta, Portland, Kittery and over the
New Hampshire line.

“Everything that we manufacture leaves the state of Maine,” said
Keith Van Scotter, president and chief executive officer. “It’s not
like we can pick up our mill and move it. If the cost of energy and
everything else gets to be so bad, then we’re dead. It’s a big deal for
us.”

Half the trucks travel to customers in New England and the
Mid-Atlantic, the others to the Upper Midwest. They all have to leave
the state the same way, down the interstate pipeline.

But what if the Midwest-bound trucks could drive down to the Bangor area and hook a right onto a four-lane highway heading west?

“That’s a bonanza,” said Van Scotter.

The idea of an east-west highway, spanning Maine’s girth like an
asphalt belt from Calais to Coburn Gore, has been around in different
forms for decades. But after years of study, proposals and “what-ifs,”
the idea has gained new energy.

The development of a Nova Scotia deepwater port almost 400 miles to
the east, increased and paralyzing congestion along established North
American trade routes, and a plan to build the east-west highway as a
private toll road – rather than a public project – are all factors.