Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rally in Augusta, Maine, to stop the proposed East-West highway

Attention water allies! Defending Water for Life in Maine is planning a rally with multiple groups all over the state to demonstrate opposition to the proposed East-West highway, a privately-constructed toll road that would cross the wilderness part of the state, speeding the corporate exploitation of Maine's forests and water, and allowing Canadian transport fast access to eastern ports.

The rally is scheduled for 12 noon, Valentine's Day, February 14, outside the State House in Augusta. At 1pm, LD 1671, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study of an East-west Highway, is scheduled for a public hearing and Defending Water in Maine plans to be there. Organizers are looking for turnout and volunteers to make the rally a success, so contact organizers below if you can lend a hand.

What's wrong with the proposed East-West Highway?

1)  It is unethical to use taxpayer money to fund a private project.  The east-west highway would be a private toll road.

2)  The project does not bring any benefit to Maine. Its primary use will be as a highly expensive toll road for Canadian transport trucks heading to east coast ports. It's not for Mainers, or even tourists.

3)  The project exposes Maine to be used for foreign companies for profit at the expense of our people and ecosystems. The highway would open Maine up to resource exploitation like water mining and wood chip export by multinational corporations that provide very few jobs if any, do not spend their profits in Maine, and do not pay taxes here. In return, most Mainers will lose access to affordable land to make a living on, and Maine's tourist appeal will be reduced, affecting a significant source of income for Mainers.

4)  The project will not create many jobs. This is a private project. During construction, more people may get hired temporarily. However, as Cianbro, the construction firm currently backing the highway, regularly performs huge infrastructure projects all over New England, we expect they will provide a high percentage of the work force.  Many Cianbro employees live in Maine, and that is great, but we're not looking at new job creation here, beyond a few jobs pumping gas. Extractive industries, like producing wood chips for export to Europe, and jobs mining or bottling water, provide very few jobs compared to other local land uses.

5)  The construction of the highway, over three major rivers, multiple wetlands, and through old growth forest would be very damaging to the environment.

There is also a planned Pre-Rally Rendevouz at 9am, Tuesday, February 14 in Belgrade. Meet to develop solid talking points, strategize the overall approach, make posters, and inspire each other! For info, email Defending Water in Maine organizer Chris Buchanan at

For more info on the highway see this page on the Defending Water for Maine website.

Thanks to Chris Buchanan for sending this info!

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