"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
2005 March 29
With the voters of the town of Perry voting 279 - 214 to reject an LNG industrial site at Gleason's Cove, Save Passamaquoddy Bay, the 3-Nation Alliance that has worked to keep the project "at bay," not "in the bay," feels that their triumph is as much about honesty, transparency, respect, and collaboration as it is about turning away the developer, Quoddy Bay LLC of Oklahoma City.
Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, Coordinator Linda Cross Godfrey said, "this is a model of how grassroots people working together can achieve stunning outcomes. Our collective effort, and the positive energy we brought to this effort can inspire small communities anywhere that right does still triumph over might, and that there are still places and beliefs that have no price tag.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay faced a significant hurdle in their campaign last week when Oklahoma City developer, Donan M. Smith, CEO of Smith Cogeneration and General Manager of Quoddy Bay LLC offered the residents of Perry $1 million. Six residents have filed a request with Washington County District Attorney Michael Povich, asking for a Grand Jury probe into what they believe is statutory bribery on Smith's part.
Of eleventh-hour accuasations by Smith that Save Passamaquoddy Bay has received tens of thousands of dollars in support of their efforts from "selfish Canadian interests" Godfrey says, "really allowed us to see Smith's total lack of understanding of how true community works." Godfrey said the opponents to LNG have been proud to receive approximately $14,000 to-date from individuals and small businesses surrounding the bay and from community fundraising events.
Godfrey said that to-date, $585 of our funds have come from Canadian donors a bed and breakfast and a lodge on Campobello, 3 summer residents on Deer Island and Campobello, and from donations given at public fundraising events. Godfrey says this insult to the group and to Canada follows Smith's earlier discounting of the Canadian position in this whole issue calling Canada "smoke and mirrors." "In fact, Canada may be the most serious barrier to this proposed industrial site," Godfrey says. "One of these huge LNG tankers would have to navigate through Campobebello's Head Harbour Passage, where nearly 70 billion cubic feet of water comes in and out with each tide. That makes challenging currents, and then there is the Old Sow Whirlpool, the largest whirlpool in the western hemisphere. The next thing would be two hairpin turns as a tanker passed near Deer Island and Eastport before turning totally around in the narrow Western Passage, and off loading in the proposed site at Gleason's Cove. Any business plan would say this is absolutely the wrong place to even consider such a water route. Of course, Quoddy Bay LLC had no business plan, no environmental assessment of any type, and no financial analysis beyond the two-page computer simulation that any of us could print out from our home computer."
Other hurdles that Godfrey claims Quoddy Bay has ignored are things like endangered species such as right whales, Native American sacred grounds and archelogical sites, graves and cemeteries on the land proposed for the terminal, lack of required evacuation procedures for both Eastport and Deer Island residents, opposition from Pleasant Point's sister tribal commmunity at Indian Township, and the fact that the Passamaquoddy Tribe is presently engaged in constuction of a $7.2 million-dollar housing development on exactly the same land as the proposed LNG terminal. "This is a most unlikey project from several angles, something that Smith of Quoddy Bay seems to be blind to," said Godfrey.
The Alliance considers Monday's vote to be definitive and decisive. "At the first of last month, Smith indicated in some meeting with small groups of area residents that he would respect Perry's vote and would not put his name on any project that the community didn't want. As the week passed, Smith began to change his tune, and its anyone's guess what he is saying now things change by the minute with Smith and his son, Project Manager Brian Smith," Godfrey concluded.
Noting that money and jobs are both desired downeast, Godfrey indicated that the communities never received answers to questions about those matters. Claiming that millions would be available annually and that 70-80 jobs would accompany the project, Smith finally sent a letter to the voters two days before the vote listing possible jobs. All of Smith's claims are significantly overstated when compared to other existing or proposed LNG projects," Godfrey said. "It was clear from the very start of the proposed project that those who stood to gain were the developer and the ultimate owner of the project. Smith has said that owner may be Shell, MobilChevron, BP, Duke, or ConoccoPhillips. He said the funding may come from a place like Prudential Insurance, GE Capital Corp. or the World Bank. Our group is sending a package of all of our work and a letter to each of these entities to inform them of the negative work of Quoddy Bay LLC, and informing each that further consideration of coming into Passamaquoddy Bay would not be wise."
Asked what is next for Save Passamaquoddy Bay, Godfrey said that the group has found an amazing array of talents, contacts, and interests within the group over the 7 months they have worked together. "We intend to stay together, expect to take a leadership role in exploring more sustainable types of energy, work together on some small development projects, and to continue our development of our area as a nature tourism area and as a model of the creative economy in action," Godfrey said.
The group called on both Governor John Baldacci and Pleasant Point Tribal Governor Melvin Francis to honor Perry's vote and assist them in bringing an end to the efforts of Quoddy Bay LLC. "Its time for the Smiths and their Public Relations Firm, Savvy Inc, to leave the area. We are a very welcoming part of Maine, yet the way these folks have treated the people, the process, and the place has been despicable, and we are ready for them all to move out and move on," Godfrey noted. Godfrey also said that Smith and his business partners in Quoddy Bay LLC, Stuart Price and William Pritchard of Oklahoma City, and Jim Mitchell of Maine, and their public relations consultant Dennis Bailey of Savvy Inc in Portland, also owe the communities around Passamaquoddy Bay an apology for the disrespectful way they have conducted themselves and their business.
Representatives of Save Passamaquoddy Bay distributed copies of a song, entitled "Dollars," written by Doug Beaver and given to the cause." Attendees were encouraged to see the group's work at their website <www.savepassamaquoddybay.com>.