Maine in the Crosshairs: The Penobscot, the East-West Corridor, and Globalization

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers wanted to hear more about activism in the great State of Maine, so I thought I’d oblige with some material about globalization and the horrible (and still proposed) “East-West Corridor.” (I should caveat by saying that although I’ve been peripherally involved in fighting a humongous landfill, all the other fights up here require a car — Maine really is a big state — and I don’t drive. Even worse, a lot of what I “know” about these fights has come from discussion, and there’s plenty that never appears in the papers, so I may not be able to uphold my usual standard of linky goodness.)

We read a lot about water wars out West, but there aren’t any water wars in Maine, unless you count Nestlé’s Poland Springs privatizing our water to sell it out of state, or the leachate from landfills with liners waiting to fail, or the dams, which, give credit, we’re getting rid of. Anyhow, Maine is blessed with water and Maine is blessed with land, and that gives rise to the feeling many Mainers north of Augusta have that “when the trucks stop,” Maine will be able to survive, and perhaps even prosper, up here on the margins because we’ll be able to ourselves on what we can grow, or catch, or hunt, or forage. (Maine was once “the breadbasket of New England,” although, to be fair, others states also made the same claim.)

All living creatures need water. So if we are to grow wheat, or catch salmon, or hunt deer, or forage for fiddleheads, we need water. That makes the Penobscot River, and its watershed, very important (and the more apocalyptic your views of climate change and its knock-on effects for things like, oh, trucks, the more important the Penobscot becomes). Here’s a small map of the Penobscot Watershed (best I could find, sorry):

Figure 1: The Penobscot Watershed

penobscot_1

The Penobscot River Restoration Trust writes:

New England’s second largest river system, the Penobscot drains an area of 8,570 square miles. Its West Branch rises near Penobscot Lake on the Maine/Quebec border; the East Branch Pond near the headwaters of the Allagash River. The main stem empties into Penobscot Bay near the town of Bucksport. The landscape of the watershed includes Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin, rolling hills and extensive bogs, marshes and wooded swamps.

The Penobscot is best known for its large historic salmon run (50,000 or more adults) and its much smaller contemporary run, which is the largest Atlantic salmon run remaining in the United States (1,000-4,000 adults in recent decades).

Water quality in the Penobscot River has greatly improved during the last 30 years due to the reduction in industrial pollution required by the Clean Water Act. Communities across Maine already have turned toward these cleaner waters, revitalizing their riverfronts. The return of the Penobscot sea-run fishery and free-flowing river sections will provide opportunities to realize the river’s full potential, including revival of cultural and social fishing traditions.

Now let’s turn our attention to a seemingly different project, the proposed East-West Corridor. Let’s start with another map; the red line across the state is the Corridor:

Figure 2: The East-West Corridor

east-west-corridor

Figure 2 is useful, for starters, because it gives a “birds eye view” of the State, where the 0.01% who fly over it in their executive jets are the birds. See all that green space? There’s nothing there— to them. Figure 2 also gives a rough idea of the route the Corridor will take, from the border crossing into Canada in the east at Calais, to the border crossing in the west at Corburn-Gore. 

The East-West Corridor is being sold, as you might imagine, because “groaf/jawbz,” but that’s ludicrous. Only six exits are planned, so that’s six 7-11 clerks and a Tim Horton’s server or three. Hardly the stuff of economic miracles, and anyhow, if highways brought jobs, we’d be rolling in the dough after they built US95. So something else is on the agenda, but what? We ask ourselves, who’s pushing these? Two people: First, Peter Vigue, CEO of Maine’s (globalized) construction company, Cianbro. And second, the Irving family (Canada’s third-ranking squillionaires), on our side of the border a (globalized) forest products company, and on the Canadian side, a (globalized) energy company. So, Cianbro gets the construction work, and the Irvings get to do what forest and energy firms do best: Extract resources. 

And which of Maine’s non-renewable resources — forest products being renewable — might the Irvings wish to extract over the Corridor built by Cianbro?

  • Possibly water, just like Nestlé;
  • Possibly fracking water, since although Maine is blessed by having no hydrocarbons, Canada, both to east and west, has oil shale;
  • Maine also has plenty of empty space for fracking injection wells;
  • Possibly gold from an open pit mine on Bald Mountain up in the County;
  • Probably gravel from the eskers that line the route

And then there are the uses to which the Corridor itself might be put. (Here I should say that although the Corridor was originally marketed as a road that public could use, it’s never been any such thing; it’s really just a real estate speculation. Since the Corridor will be privatized, the developers can do whatever they want within their property lines (subjected, granted, to a compliant permitting process.) That red line on the map could be a road that makes it easy for Canadian truckers to cross the state, instead of going around it, and the road for Irving to ship forest products, water, and gold out of start, but it could also represent:

  • Pipelines of all sorts, with perhaps one connecting the Enbridge pipeline to Irving’s Canadian refineries;
  • Rail, for tank cars for the same purpose;
  • A power line route if Maine’s wind projects ever get big enough;
  • The route to bring in out-of-state trash to dump in Maine’s landfills.

Of course, all the by-products from construction, mining, fracking, and truck traffic, not to mention oil spills, whether from the pipelines or rail, have to go somewhere; the earth is round, after all. But where? Figure 3 gives the answer:

Figure 3: The Penobscot Watershed and the East West Highway

penobscot_2

That’s right! All that crap is going to go right into the Penobscot Watershed, because the East-West Corridor cuts right through the heart of it! Maria Girouard of the Penobscot Nation explains the insanity:

Let me expand on that last bullet point about out-of-state trash, because it’s near and dear to my heart. 

Figure 4: The East-West Highway and Landfills

penobscot_3a

In a thirty or forty mile radius around Bangor, there are two closed landfills, one of the largest landfills in New England, Juniper Ridge (named “Mount Baldacci,” for the Democratic governor whose scheme it was), and another proposed landfill. It has not escaped our notice that Juniper Ridge and the proposed new landfill are both very close to an exit off the East-West Highway. And we all know that Europe likes to dump its trash on Africa, so why not send it in containers across the Atlantic, and dump it in Maine instead? Why, after all, should one do business with third-world thugs, instead of upstanding North Americans?

At this point — with European trash dumped in Maine — we’ve entered a truly globalized context, but that’s been the context of the East-West Corridor all along. Water for Life organizer Chris Buchanan writes:

But what do existing and pending free trade agreements have to do with the East-West Corridor proposal?  A great deal.  In sum, the East-West Corridor is the enabling infrastructure for increasing free trade in the Northeast United States and for all of Canada.

As a privately owned and operated consolidated utility corridor up to 2000 feet in width from Calais to Coburn Gore5, the corridor would profit its investors most by maximizing uses.  Therefore, we could expect not only a noisy toll highway with different regulations than public roads6, but also a tar sands pipeline, natural gas pipeline, crude oil pipeline, communication cables, DC electric cables, bulk water lines, and more.

Effectively, we’re looking at a privately owned,controlled, and secured Super-Corridor, permanently dividing land that has been accessible to people and animals for time immemorial, from foreign border to foreign border, designed to benefit transnational corporations involved in various resource extraction processes that are major players in the global economy. By nature, it is a Free Trade Corridor, envisioned to maximize movement of globally traded products to and from Canadian ports.

Figure 5: Maine in the Crosshairs

All of which explains why we, up here in the sticks, feel just a little bit like this:

penobscot_4

Amazingly, so far Mainers have been able to slow one landfill, have swiftly organized against the planned one, and have fought Cianbro and the Irvings to a standstill on the Corridor. Here, however, is the key point: 90% of the land in the Penobscot Watershed is privately owned, and most of its owned by forest product companies (i.e., the Irvings). Tactically, that means that all that the Corridor Boosters really have to do is put together land they already own with a few small parcels to complete the route. Strategically, that means that the Penobscot Watershed cannot be treated as the Common Pool Resource that is is. So far, the Irving and Cianbro have failed. And if they sense defeat, who will they sue for lost profits under international trade agreements? Some embattled farmers and a few Indians in the Maine woods? Ha.

So, stay tuned!

NOTE I wrote up some lessons learned on landfill activism here.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

42 comments

  1. David Lentini

    Those interested in Maine activism may want to attend No Common Core Maine’s forum against the corporate take over of our public schools.

    When: June 24th 6:30pm.

    Where: Meeting room at the Unitarian Universalist Church, Brunswick, ME. Located at the corner of Pleasant and Middle Streets. Directly across from the Curtis Memorial Public Library side entrance.

    Panelists Heidi Sampson – Co-Founder NCCM, David Lentini – Former School Board Chair, NCCM Member, Bob Morrison – Retired Superintendent, Principal & Teacher.

      1. David Lentini

        So accroding to you, activism in Maine applies only to the Penobscot Watershed and anything else is silly.

        Glad we have you to be the thought sheriff around these parts.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Er, in terms of crapifying the provision of public goods in order to privatize them, it’s a lot like it. Different playing field, different playbooks although with some common plays (shock doctrine), but same players and same motives. I would bet the profits from privatizing public schools go out of state, too.

        1. David Lentini

          “I would bet the profits from privatizing public schools go out of state, too.”

          Yes. Common Core relies on many third party serivce providers, few if any of whom are in Maine.

          I’d love to do a post on this, Lambert if you’re interested. The Crapification of America’s Schools™ would be a good theme.

          1. mellon

            Google “four modes of supply”

            “I would bet the profits from privatizing public schools go out of state, too.”

            The idea is to give the developing countries a way to make money out of globalization. Contract companies will be able to bid on contracts in the developed countries down to the municipal level, which means manage schools, etc. Even K12 schools. So the developing countries will get lots of jobs.

    1. mellon

      You should focus your attention on the Trade in Services Agreement.. Privatizing public services is basically a way to use those jobs as bargaining chips which can be traded for overseas access. In order to be able to bargain, participants have to make ommittments and the US is basically making more committments than anybody which means the US is seeking to globalize the most industry sectors than anybody, open them up to global bidding and contracting. Then they can trade those jobs for access to the growing markets in Asia, etc.

      >“against the corporate take over of our public schools.”

      See Education International – TISA, a threat to free quality public education

      GATS Mode Four Briefing

      342 civil society groups oppose deregulation and privatisation in proposed services agreement TISA | Corporate Europe Observatory

      TISA versus Public Services | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

      Also see https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/facing-facts

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_pPqnbXpA4 (and the other videos from that day)

      You’ll see where school privatization fits into the picture.

  2. MtnLife

    Thanks for the local activity update. I like hearing about the smaller, intrastate issues.

    “DC electric cables”

    DC? Probably not. Effective range on DC transmission is a few miles at most which is fine for a localized grid but nothing over distance. While alternative energies are generated in DC they are promptly ran through an inverter to be transported through the grid in AC. All grid tied systems are like this. Off-grid can be either, you just have to buy the proper appliances for your setup.

    Maine is blessed with water and Maine is blessed with land, and that gives rise to the feeling many Mainers north of Augusta have that “when the trucks stop,” Maine will be able to survive, and perhaps even prosper, up here on the margins because we’ll be able to ourselves on what we can grow, or catch, or hunt, or forage.

    Ahh, the real things in life. This goes not only for Maine but the corridor through non-seacoast NH, VT, the Adirondacks, and to a lesser extent, the rest of upstate NY. It’s why I live there. Unfortunately, if “when the trucks stop” comes suddenly like in the form of a solar flare providing us with a worldwide EMP, you will also have a very panicked exodus of the urban corridor from Portland to Jersey into these areas. This will not be a pleasant portion of our history. Like “Walking Dead” without the zombies.

    1. lambert strether

      No! This is most definitely not “intrastate.” It’s global players — Cianbro, Irving — all the way. The target is marginal, but the “shooters” (as it were) are not.

      Think of it this way: All over the country, right now, right over your town or your area, there’s some sort of drone or executive jet that’s carrying or ing data to an elite decision maker servicing some oligarch, and the decision is what form of extraction to target you and your neighbors for, and when it should happen.

      The target picking process is long and can take years, but the when the decision is made, they pull the playbook off the shelf, lawyer up and find some compradors, and lo and behold! The permitting process kicks off, and the locals have about a month to respond to whatever it is.

      What I want to do — and apparently have drastically failed to do — is show how global and local these processes really are. Maybe I should invent a new word, like “glocal.”

      Hey, I’m hearing the rumble of a train engine and the clackety-clack of train cars right now! Wonder if its an oil train heading up to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick. Sure hope it doesn’t go off the rails and into the Penobscot! Which you can easily see it doing, if you’ve ever seen the roadbed up here. “Slow order” doesn’t begin to describe it. Local? Global? Glocal?

      Oh, and yes, upstate New York and Maine are alike in a lot of way, including a corrupt local oligarchy that s off fees, permits, lobbying, and public relations. The right sort of lawyer can do well up here.

      1. MtnLife

        While it involves global players (who bring their evil playbook) and the nation of Canada, the discussion of this is probably still pretty intrastate as it only involves one state. To further your point though, your watershed may seem state contained but, in actuality, it is impacted by every area that storm tracks take previous to unloading in the watershed. The journey of the entire water cycle is in your interest and essential to the health of the region. Having a river isn’t so great if the people upstream (or up cycle) are polluting it.
        In a semi-related plunder story, energy corporations wanted to put windmills up here and ship the energy out of state. It would have been a fight even if the power had been staying local but for resource plunder with no local benefit they were shut down pretty hard.

      2. mellon

        Its probably a fracking pipeline..

        Could it be a border fence? A wall to prevent people from crossing?

        Well, if they are multinationals and they invest, there won’t ever be a way to end their ownership of that line across the state. because of the investor-state entitlement– since they are multinationals- they get special supra-national rights that even trump US laws, the Supreme Court, everything.

        That aspect changes everything. Whenever multinationals are involved now they get rights to no changes in regulations – a standstill. TTIP even wants to do that with toxic chemicals. “Standstill”.

        The state should only lease them the permission and only for a few years at a time, subject to reapproval by the voters.

        Otherwise, the corporate ownerships continue. A line dividing your beautful state in half that is privately owned. A potential corporate DMZ.

        I would not do it. Things are not the same as they used to be, the Obama administration is doing the exact opposite in private what they claimed to want, They are pushing all sorts of bad ideas for industry this or industry that. Knowing that its forever, even if it screws up. But they DONT tell anybody that.

        They even keep the text of the agreements secret, preventing Congressmen and women from reading them except if they go into a special reading room where no staff is allowed.

        TTIP: EU Commissioner Points Finger At US Secrecy, Investor-State Provisions

        EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht, during a later meeting with the committee, pointed to strong US interest in the ISDS regime, and at the same time blamed the US for limitations in transparency of the TTIP negotiations.

        Even transparency with the EU institutions is a difficult topic, De Gucht explained, stating, “The US is against transparency in a way we look at it.” In the US, there is a reading room arrangement where members of the US Congress (no staff permitted) have to leave empty-handed.

        “This is not our practice,” De Gucht said, adding, “I have even more problems with the Council on this than with the Parliament.” When technicians in the capitals cannot take a look at bracketed documents, “it drives them mad,” he said.

        Discussions with the US on the issue were pursued further, but “they are not easy on this,” De Gucht said.

        … But anyway.. back to the highway/pipeline/fence or whatever it is..

        Privatizations OFTEN screw up. Far more than any media ever let on….

        Pipeline, why pipeline? here is why- The US is hoping to become a big natural gas exporter soon.. almost certainly because the world price is so high.

        They are pushing to vastly expand fracking irreversibly in TTIP, right? here is a chart of the prices a few years ago. They are even higher now. (as much as four times the prices in the US) They want to export lots of natural gas –

        how uch will this increase the price of electricity and heating gas for homes? it depends on where you are.. evidently.

        many people will lose their homes if the price of heating them rises a lot..

        Here is a fact sheet on the fracking in TTIP Friends of the Earth Europe

        Sierra Club Analysis of TTIP Fracking Proposal

        IATP Analaysis of TTIP provisions banning green job programs (because they discriminate against foreign service multinationals-, expanding fracking, etc.
        ‘No Fracking Way” – about investor state and fracking/TTIP

        Analaysis of how fracking may actualy worsten global warming by freeing lots of extremely bad greenhouse gas methane

      3. David Lentini

        “What I want to do — and apparently have drastically failed to do — is show how global and local these processes really are. Maybe I should invent a new word, like ‘glocal.'”

        Why not “think globally, screw locally.”

      4. Paul Tioxon

        http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140611_Critics_challenge_Sunoco_Pipeline_as_public_utility.html

        You should be able to duck duck to get more info if interested but in a nutshell, the state of PA has Public Utility Right of Way granted for utilities. Easy enough to understand. Most people are reconciled to popsicle sticks and wires running along otherwise bucolic splendor or urban blight. The electric and phone and now cable/fiber optic lines get an uncontested pass for the most part and I know I certainly like my light and heat and ice cubes on wonderful humid stretch of Philadelphia summer. But, a gas pipeline from a fracking site runnning across the counties to reach to the port of Philly? How is that a public utility? The battle rages on in Chester County, where the exurbs meets the cornfields. Those are well educated, higher middle class professionals who can fight back in court and with politics. And they are fighting back. You need to look into right of way for public utilities as a smoke screen for scamming their way onto your land, you know, it’s for the public good if they get to use the world public!

    2. letsgola

      For long distance, high voltage DC is more efficient than AC, and it is already in use by the likes of Hydro Quebec. The problem with DC is stepping voltage up or down but with modern controls it is easily inverted to AC at the destination and put on the grid.

      1. MtnLife

        I thought HVDC was best from a single massive source, like a Quebec Hydro, and not so much for multiple smaller aggregates, like wind turbines? Please correct any deficiencies in my knowledge here, I am always eager to learn. I was figuring high voltage 3 phase due to distance and ease of industry hooking right in.

        1. letsgola

          For a large single source HVDC is the way to go. I think you’re probably right about AC being better for small things like wind turbines.

  3. flora

    If the small property owners continue to refuse to sell to the corps prepare for some eminent domain attempts by the corps.

      1. flora

        True in theory. However, in recent years the courts have too often ok’ed the private taking thru eminent domain for private gain, not public purpose.
        See this S.C. case summation: http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/05/07/02.php
        Note Justice O’Connor’s dissent.
        Anyway, hope you’re right about the situation, but – as they say – be prepared.

        1. flora

          according to the linked 2005 article:
          “At least eight states _ Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington _ forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate blight. Other states either expressly allow a taking for private economic purposes or have not spoken clearly to the question. ”
          That’s good.

  4. JEHR

    Thanks, Lambert, for this article. I live in New Brunswick and am aware of the proposed corridor but I never heard anything about its devastating effects for Maine. New Brunswick is one of the poorest provinces with a very big debt. The young people have left the province in droves to make their fortune in the West so we also have an older demographic. Many of the things that you mention may be coming to our province; so far there have been many aboriginals protesting against fracking.

    What I don’t understand is why our government isn’t supporting alternative energy sources rather than fracking. Recently, the government gave Irving almost total access to our forests. Large swathes of forest are disappearing at a great rate. We share with you the curse of the Irvings!

    1. mellon

      Maybe its a fracking pipeline and a LNG port in waiting.

      To export natural gas to Europe and Asia where the price on it is more than four times higher in Asia and South America than here.

      They are secretly trying to expand fracking in TTIP, to keep everything secret.

  5. newyorker

    I don’t see what’s so bad about it. The state can write limitations on use into the contract.

    While you’re probably right about the scarcity of job creation along the road (unless opened to the public). But there would be more job creation on the eastern end of the route, calais and eastport, an excellent deep water port (despite the tides) underutilized because the road system is inadequate, which the toll road would fix. Calais’ biggest employers are walmart and the hospital, the place desperately needs jobs according to my son who worked there for a year.

    1. flora

      per your post: ” The state can write limitations on use into the contract.”
      maybe. See the NAFTA lawsuit of a U.S. fracking company against Canada, Quebec province.

    2. mellon

      TTIP will preempt all state/national laws so all state, municipal even national laws which go into effect after its signing (and its “standstill”) will be likely to trigget a claim for compensation. Thats the way it works. That happens all the time. “Multinational corporations need stability, democracy is too unpredictable”. Thats why everybody is racing to put their environmental laws in now because after it passes, no more environmental laws without having them passed by all the countries.
      See http://www.ciel.org/Publications/ToxicPartnership_Mar2014 and http://www.chemsec.org/what-we-do/influencing-public-policy/news-updates/1321-letter-to-the-ttip-negotiators-signed-by-178-groups

  6. letsgola

    I dunno, more than anything this just seems like typical stupid politicians thinking that freeways create jobs and the construction contractor lobby trying to create work for itself. I doubt it makes economic sense to try to export water or gravel thousands of miles by rail. (And it’s not like Maine doesn’t already have a rail ROW going through that corridor.) Meanwhile, for better or for worse, it’s always going to be cheaper to send Europe’s trash to Africa than to Maine.

    The ports are fantasy. Anything coming through the expanded Panama Canal is going to go to Houston, Savannah, Hampton Roads, or NYC. Why would they bring anything to Maine and then ship it back south? Meanwhile for things coming from Europe, Halifax has spare capacity and it already has road/rail connections to Montreal. The CN route to Montreal is better than the route across Maine; it’s flatter and has less curves.

    1. newyorker

      Sorry i did not make it clearer. The port would not be primarily for goods destined for the usa, but for canada, which has no ice free ports in its own country, except halifax? I dont know. I do know that portland me served canada as a winter port since ice choked the st lawrence river for months at atime. Eastport would be a closer and more convenient portland for canada.

  7. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    More like “28 Days After.” With fast zombies. Armed fast zombies.

    But, in fairness, he did describe it as a “feeling” rather than as a “well thought-out future.”

  8. lambert strether

    So your recommendation is to look to Hollywood for well-thought out futures?

    1. MtnLife

      I look to Hollywood to see what will happen if we don’t have a well-thought out future. Hollywood is great at apocalypse. Utopia doesn’t score big at the box office.

        1. MtnLife

          Not sure what you are getting at but I was attempting to back your point with a bit of levity/reality as I could hear in my head the voice of the guy who does all the movie trailers “This summer…. a movie like never before… 2 hours of people living cooperatively in a peaceful society that lives in harmony with nature…. with no conflict whatsoever…. and they all live happily ever after.”

  9. American Slave

    “or the dams, which, give credit, we’re getting rid of.”

    Ive heard about that before. It just goes to show people that under capitalism we are reaching an advanced state of devolution. So instead of being rational and scientific by building fish hatcheries that allow over 90% of fish offspring to survive vs the wild where less than 10% survive they choose to tear down structures that produce large amounts of 24/7 clean energy which in the end they will probably replace with coal or even worse natural gas power plants that require fracking and the horrendous pollution that comes with it.

    Apparently in this system the one renewable resource they have plenty of is idiocy. Im just waiting for them to start dynamite fishing in coral reefs and slash and burn agriculture as the “newest latest and greatest”.

    1. newyorker

      That line jarred me too. Hydro isnt 100% green ( silting) but it’ s pretty close. I read somewherevthat quebec gets close to half of its electric needs met thru hydro. Would that we in the northeast, gifted with fast rivers, could do the same!

      Instead of removing dams,maybe maine should be equipping dams built solely for flood control with the most efficient hi tech turbines. That has to be simpler than building windmills since most of the work has already been done.

    2. lambert strether

      The Penobscot River Restoration Project is called that for a reason; we need the salmon, trout, and elvers back not just for ourselves (though for ourselves) but for the Penobscot Nation, since the river is their fishing ground by treaty. Some were retained or put back into power generation. However, for clean power, the way to go in Maine is offshore wind. Local wind with locally owned utilities Downeast would be especially nice.

  10. twonine

    “Today we have a temporary aberration called “industrial capitalism” which is inadvertently liquidating its two most important sources of capital.. the natural world and properly functioning societies. No sensible capitalist would do that.” — Amory Lovins

    Restoration of habitat on the Penobscot isn’t a net loser of energy capacity.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidferris/2012/06/11/hat-trick-on-the-penobscot/
    Besides, we have negawatts ripe for the picking; at least there would be had we a functioning society.

  11. ray duray

    Some reader may find the Dam Nation movie of interest:

    http://damnationfilm.com/

    As I recall, they briefly discuss the Kennebec, as well as the Elwha River in WA, Snake River Dams in ID among other dams in various stages of removal and rivers in various stages of restoration.

    This has been a very popular event out West.

  12. hyperpolarizer

    Interesting to think that in the early 19th century, Maine was an industrial center exactly because of its water power– a single water driven shaft in a factory could belt-drive, for example, a row of lathes. I recall reading (but have never been able to re-locate a reference) that the original prototype of the Vernier caliper was developed in the 1850’s at Brown and Sharpe in Bangor, although B&S was then headquartered in Massachusetts. Grateful if anyone can either confirm that or disabuse me of a long-held error.

    Also a sad water story from Maine: when I was a young kid living in Rangeley, we got our drinking water from Mingo Springs, which ran summer and winter, even when the mercury was at -40 F. When I returned to visit in the 1970’s and 80’s, Mingo water was still being drunk, and cars would line up at the springs at all hours. Sometime in the late 1990’s fertilizer runoff from the golf course at nearby Mingo Springs Country Club — a tourist fixture for decades– finally poisoned the Spring. I feel a sharp pang of regret every time that crosses my mind.

    Anyhow, many thanks to Lambert for sounding the alarm here.

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