"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
(This news release was received via email from Maine Earth First.)
2005 October 10
Portland, Maine A large crowd gathered in Tommy’s Park mid day on Columbus Day to draw attention to Savvy Inc.’s work as a public relations firm for Quoddy Bay LLC, the corporation pushing for Liquid Natural Gas Development on Passamaquoddy Tribal Land in Downeast Maine.
People from Portland and around the state demonstrated at the Exchange St. offices of Savvy Inc., the public relations firm retained by Quoddy Bay LLC. The group in Tommy’s Park carried signs reading “Savvy: Stop Selling Environmental Racism,” and “500 Years is Enough, Stop the Invasion.” The group also performed a short skit, showing three LNG tankers, named after Columbus’s ships, the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Each ship brought forth a different plague to the Passamaquoddy, and described how LNG development would perpetuate and renew imperialism and injustice. One ship carried disease, one slavery and one environmental devastation.
“Just like Columbus brought disease, slavery and environmental destruction to this land when he came, LNG development will bring modern versions of the same things to people Downeast,” said Maia Campoamor of Portland one of the puppeteers.
“The indigenous people of this land have already survived European invasion, wars, diseases (small pox), slavery, acculturation, oppression, and racism. I can’t help but wonder if it’s LNG that is today’s “pox” blanket, the ultimate scorched earth policy, “ said Madonna Soctomah former Passamaquoddy Representative to the Maine Legislature in a position paper posted on the Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Take Care of the Land) website.
“We are here today to draw attention to the role that Savvy is playing in the assault on Passamaquoddy people by greedy developers,” says Anita Deloy of Portland. “We think it’s important that the public knows who is behind the slick packaging of this proposal, and Savvy should be held accountable for their role in this. If people want to resist Quoddy Bay’s environmental racism Downeast then they should not support Savvy’s business.”
Quoddy Bay’s controversial plan to build a Liquid Natural Gas terminal and regasification plant on the coast has drawn criticism from a wide array of groups around the state. Other proposed LNG facilities have been defeated in communities along the coast. Opponents of the LNG development on Passamaquoddy land argue that building in this area is blatant environmental racism.
“White people up and down the coast have said NO! to LNG. Now, white developers from Oklahoma have come to build a heavy industrial site on tribal land in Downeast Maine. It stinks of racism and ignorance,” says Elijah Meserve of Portland.
Activists also point out that Quoddy Bay has failed to even list Pleasant Point as a ’community of concern’ in their [navigation and safety] study. In fact, the reservation is incorrectly listed as Point Pleasant in [the document]. Dennis Bailey, President of Savvy, Inc., admitted on PBS that he was "not all that familiar in the ways that the tribes operate." At the same time, Bailey expressed certainty about LNG being a good deal for the Passamaquoddy tribe.
[Liquefied] Natural Gas poses many risks to communities where terminals are sighted. The tankers pose terrorist targets in harbors, which will require the shutting down of ports, limit fishing days for lobstermen, and economically impact coastal communities. Massive explosions can also be caused by accidents or failures in the regasification process. Questions also remain unanswered about the impact of such a facility on air and water quality as well as marine life.
According to Vera Francis, a representative of Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We take care of the homeland), “Like the fur trade, proponents for LNG count up their potential profits first, not what it's actually going to cost [the community] for them to be here. On the true scale of things, the potential devastation LNG promises to bring into Passamaquoddy Ancestral Territory is incalculable. In fact, environmental racism does not ensure economic prosperity for any group it guarantees environmental and cultural degradation.”
According to a statement by Maine Earth First!, “The sovereignty of the Passamaquoddy peoples (sic) should not be jeopardized for a short term profit gain by an industry plagued with environmental risks and uncertainties. The massive infrastructure of LNG terminals and the super tankers that would pass through critical and sensitive ecological areas of the ocean and coastal area will devastate these lands and water systems. The proposal for [Liquified] Natural Gas development on tribal land gives us a reason to confront our culture’s fossil fuel addiction and our 500 year history of racism and imperialism. It’s time to begin implementing truly sustainable alternatives and respecting the autonomy of native communities.