"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
"The Whole Bay Fund" campaign was announced today by the grassroots coalition Save Passamaquoddy Bay, a 3-Nation Alliance. The funding campaign is to support the creation of a fair and balanced assessment of the potential positive and negative socio-economic impacts of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal on all communities surrounding Passamaquoddy Bay.
The 3-Nation Alliance U.S., Canadian, and Passamaquoddy, has commissioned the study to be undertaken by Yellow Wood Associates of St. Albans, Vermont. St. Croix Estuary Project, Inc. of St. Stephen, New Brunswick will collaborate in the study through data collection and analysis for the Canadian portion of the study.
Step one is collecting community baseline data and reviewing the status of the LNG industry and the proposals that have been made for various sites within the bay. Using this data as background, researchers will create a generic model of an LNG site on the bay in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Specific topics such as possible impacts on community infrastructure, public safety, property values, local government budgets, transportation, housing, and public investment will be addressed.
Step two will analyze impacts of a proposed LNG site in the areas of employment, and the real estate sector.
By the end of the study, topics of fisheries, tourism, recreation, research and education, public health, economic aspects of environmental actions, and community lifestyle will be addressed.
Work on the study is expected to run into early 2006. Once complete, the study will be made available to Maine State Governor John Baldacci, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, Passamaquoddy Tribal Governors Melvin Francis and Robert Newell, and various governmental department heads within each nation. The report will also be made available to both U.S. and Canadian federal legislators and appropriate federal agencies. Each local government surrounding the bay will receive a copy of the study, and area residents will have access to the entire study.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay members call upon all individuals, no matter if they support, oppose, or are undecided about LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay, to contribute financially to this base-line study. The Maine State Planning Office, Department of Community and Economic Development, Washington County Commissioners, municipalities, individual citizens, and event the developers and their investors are being asked to contribute to the study. As the first study to address all issues related to the proposed LNG operations, the Whole Bay Study will provide data and details that all parties concerned with economic development will find useful.
"The choice of Yellow Wood Associates and St. Croix Estuary Project as research partners comes from a desire to have an independent and thorough study," said Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay. "This is a monumental study, and a huge investment for our grassroots alliance. We want to have the best information available for all communities and individuals. We want data that goes beyond what prospective developers have supplied. We want the hardest and most in-depth questions asked. We want a study that can stand up to scrutiny at the local, state, and federal levels."
Yellow Wood Associates was selected for their approach to projects such as this where they use local real data rather than applying templates, simulations, or routine models. Yellow Wood completed a similar study in Harpswell for a group calling themselves "Fair Play for Harpswell." Contacted for comment on the process, one of the Harpswell group's coordinators, Amy Haible said, "From the start, no one representing the town or state government could tell us anything about the economic impact of the LNG proposal ... no one else had really looked at the costs to the community not the town, not the state. Not a single public official asked the questions, "what will this do to our fishermen, to our property values, to the tourism industry ... no one asked what impact LNG would have on nearby island communities ... schools, emergency assistance.... No one, not event the state of Maine, had any idea what it would cost state and local officials to provide the required police, marine patrol boats and security to insure safe passage of LNG."
Haible continued, "We decided we had no choice but to commission our own independent study, and we agreed on two things: First, the study had to look equally at the costs and benefits of LNG because industry numbers looked only at the benefits. And, secondly, the study had to be accurate beyond doubt. We also agreed that whatever the study showed would be made public." Of the resulting study, Haible said, "The Yellow Wood report asked all those questions and answered them for us."
Believing that Passamaquoddy Bay communities and individuals are in need of a broad view and specifics related to the whole picture of LNG, Save Passamaqouddy Bay members have adopted the same three commitments for the Whole Bay study that were established by the Harpswell group to look fully at both costs and benefits, to have an impeccable report, and to share fully with the public whatever data is gathered.
"St. Croix Estuary Project" is partnering with Yellow Wood for this study," said SPB coordinator, Linda Godfrey. "SCEP has years of expertise in studying the Quoddy region waters, the life within the waters, and the livelihoods derived from the water. They also have access to socio-economic data related to the Canadian side of Passamaquoddy Bay which will be invaluable. In their role as partnering researchers, SCEP will round out the study so that all three nations U.S., Passamaquoddy, and Canada will be well represented in the resulting report. Art MacKay, a 40-year marine researcher in the area and Executive Director of SCEP will be the lead investigator for SCEP.
Contributions to the Whole Bay Study Fund Campaign may be made in the following way:
U.S. residents may make their contributions to:
Save Passamaquoddy Bay Whole Bay Fund
PO Box 222
Eastport, Maine 04631.
Canadian residents may make their contributions to:
St. Croix Estuary Project Whole Bay Fund
PO Box 374
St. Stephen, New Brunswick E3L 2X3.
Information may be obtained from Save Passamaquoddy Bay - U. S. at 207-853-4123, and from Save Passamaquoddy Bay - Canada at 506-467-9905 or from www.savepassamquoddybay.org.