by Chris Buchanan, Defending Water in Maine
LR 2358, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study for an East-West Highway, has been given the green light for consideration this session. If you live in Maine, see below for actions you can take with AfD's Defending Water in Maine campaign to help protect your state's ecosystems.
The idea of a Maine East-West highway has been kicked around the Maine Legislature since 1981. However, public and/or private funding has never been provided to study the feasibility of such a highway or to finance its construction.
Canadian businesses want an East-West highway to move goods more cheaply from inland Canada to its eastern provinces and to a proposed Super-Port at Halifax, Nova Scotia, for export. Maine would be used as a throughway. But the highway could also accelerate the exploitation of Maine’s natural resources. Of particular concern to Defending Water in Maine, is the likelihood that the highway would make it economical for giant corporations to profit from cutting down Maine’s forests to supply wood chips to Europe as “green energy” and from exporting Maine’s water in bulk and in bottles to global markets.
Defending Water in Maine and others ask: How will increased truck traffic crossing the state benefit the people of Maine? Simply, it will not. But, it will benefit transnational corporations like Nestlé which can profit from using the highway to exploit and export Maine’s water to sell it around the world.
Peter Vigue, CEO of Cianbro, Maine’s largest construction firm, has reignited conversations among business leaders about the East-West highway. The last time Vigue was vocal about the project was in 2007, when he proposed the private toll road from Coburn Gore to Calais. Vigue again is promoting the highway to be built on private land with other business leaders and with state legislators. Cianbro is poised to profit considerably, as the owner of this toll road.
Plans to construct the road are well developed. Cianbro has already identified a route, and contacted major landowners; however, Cianbro has yet to make public the route they are pursuing. See our website for a map of the most likely route.
Key business leaders appear unified, and are organizing influence.
LR 2358 was just unanimously moved forward for consideration as an emergency bill by the Legislative Council for the upcoming second legislative session. In 2007, Vigue said that, except for river crossings and connecting to the interstate, Cianbro didn’t need to go to the government for permitting, since this would all be privately funded on private land.
However, Senator Doug Thomas just sponsored a bill for a feasibility study. The bill summary states it, “would provide funding for an independent, investment-grade feasibility study to determine the need for and location of an east-west highway in Maine.” Bill sponsor, Senator Doug Thomas, said that, “a surprising amount of work has been done,” that this project is “doable”, and that this would be a boost to the Maine economy. (video of Thomas's testimony is here.)
Join our east-west highway watch group. We will maintain a separate list of people who want more information on the development of this threat so we can continue to update you and network without burdening everyone on our listserv.
Identify Landowners. If you or someone you know has been approached about the highway running through their land, let us know! In the near future, we will be organizing to canvass the area as well and will need your help.
Contact your Local Representative and Senators, and the Members of the Transportation Committee re LR 2358. Some talking points:
List of Transportation Committee Members:
Douglas Thomas- R (sponsor) 277-3017 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald Collins- R 985-2485 SenRonald.Collins@legislature.maine.gov
Bill Diamond- D 892-8941 SenBill.Diamond@legislature.maine.gov
Wayne Parry- R 286-9145 RepWayne.Parry@legislature.maine.gov
Alexander Willette- R 689-8332 email@example.com
James Gillway- R 548-6372 RepJames.Gillway@legislature.maine.gov
Kimberley Rosen- R 469-3779 Kurlykim40@aol.com
Peter Rioux- R 659-2293 RepPeter.Rioux@legislature.maine.gov
Richard Cebra- R 693-6782 RepRich.Cebra@legislature.maine.gov
Ann Peoples- D 287-1430 RepAnn.Peoples@legislature.maine.gov
Charles Theriault- D 728-4526 RepCharlesK.Theriault@legislature.maine.gov
Edward Mazurek- D 542-0017 RepEd.Mazurek@legislature.maine.gov
George Hogan- D 423-4293 RepGeorge.Hogan@legislature.maine.gov
Please let us know whom you have contacted. Thanks!
Chris Buchanan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
by Chris Buchanan, Defending Water in Maine