Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy’s decision regarding a wind turbine project on Vinalhaven is a crucial decision whose implications have less to do with wind energy than with whether Maine’s environment is safe in the hands of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho.
Murphy found that Aho gutted project requirements carefully formulated by the attorney general’s office and DEP’s technical staff. Aho intervened soon after leaving her lobbying job with a Portland law firm, thereby assisting the project developers, who were and continue to be clients of that same law firm.
Murphy found “no competent evidence” and “no rational basis” to support Aho’s decision. Aho’s behavior could reasonably be “viewed as antithetical to the common notions of impartiality which Maine citizens understandably expect from decision makers in Maine agencies,” Murphy wrote, suggesting Aho not participate further.
That’s not likely, however. Aho has waged a prolonged fight against the neighbors who brought this case, claiming that the court has no authority to review her decision and that the neighbors can’t challenge her decisions in court.
Aho’s personal intervention (not DEP’s) has cost Maine taxpayers and the neighbors dearly. The developer is quoted as having paid $1 million in legal fees. (To whom? Aho’s law firm, presumably.)
Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long list of Aho’s misdeeds. She may be great for her former law firm and its clients, but she is a disaster for Maine.
The LePage administration has abused a sacred trust by subverting its environmental responsibilities to personal and insider agendas.
Since time immemorial, the ancestors of the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and other Wabanakis have gathered at certain times of the year to catch sea creatures as they come forth from the ocean to go up rivers and streams to their places of origin.
Now, the attorney general of those primarily “from away” (descendants of the comparatively recent European settlers) says the inherent rights of Wabanakis must be overruled, even though they have never surrendered their rights to marine resources, including elvers.
It is time to respect the government-to-government relationship and cultural heritage of those who were here long before us and persevered over the millennia with the bounty of Mother Earth in Maine and the maritimes.
A compromise agreement between the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wabanakis had been worked out regarding total catch limits, use of dip nets, etc. It should be restored.
Please contact your Maine state representative and senator plus the co-chairmen of the legislative marine resources committee (Sen. Christopher Johnson and Rep. Walter Kumiega) to support a bill to allow a portion of the annual quota of the elvers fishery landings allocated to the Passamaquoddy Tribe to be fished as a group quota. Don’t delay as this is being voted on very shortly.
Harrison and Marilyn Roper
Fresh water, new oil
This year in February, the Camden Conference focused on food and water scarcity. Parts of our Midwest food basket and California are clearly focused on the scarcity of water. We will feel the effects of those drought-stricken areas on our food prices before long. Maine is indeed fortunate to have abundant water in her many ponds, lakes, brooks, streams and rivers, and we need to protect our water and our waterways.
It does not take much imagination to foresee schemes and profit-making plans to move our water to other parts of the country. Think about the huge projects in China to move water across its country.
Today we need to protect our waters and our waterways. There are two pieces of state legislation in the works that can help with this challenge.
1. Outlaw the mechanized gold extraction from our streams and rivers. Mechanized gold panning creates no jobs and benefits a very few while threatening the health of our waterways.
2. A new mining law can protect sustainable drinking water supply. In this case the future value of fresh and pure water far outweighs the value of the minerals taken and the relatively few jobs it creates.
Protecting our water is no longer an abstract or a long-term challenge. We need strong and visionary state leadership to put us on a sustainable track with our greatest natural resource. Talk to your state representative.
Do you get what you pay for? Or will hard work ever pay off here in Maine? I have been keeping up with the debacle regarding the University of Maine System and the budget cuts. This has actually made me feel a sense of reconnection to the institutional students; because clearly I am not alone in some of the frustration and disappointment.
I graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2006 with my bachelor’s, then transferred to Orono and completed my master’s that focused on counselor education, yet the state is refusing to see that because of apparent “deficiencies.” They have then talked with me about “out of state education” in comparison with Maine’s in-state education, thus belittling the UMaine System and what it has to offer. That is not a good advertisement slogan for any “business” proposal to this current “customer” or future ones.
It’s clear that, like others have been saying, financial cuts are not being taken from the appropriate places to benefit those who are supposedly being served — students. Students put in the time and effort while making financial payments to keep the “business” going.
Why have I read/heard legislative personnel talk about their alleged desire to keep people (students) in state? Especially if/when there is little to offer here, starting with an insecure and unreliable higher educational system representing the state. This is too bad, because I feel that my education was actually good based on the time and effort put in, but it is not in agreement with “the brain’s brain” apparently.
Greg R. Stacy