The successful effort by the grassroots citizens group, Thanks But No Tank (TBNT), to thwart one of America’s most successful energy corporations in their bid to build a potentially devastating propane mega-tank and terminal in Searsport has earned that group this year’s People’s Choice Award from the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).
Perhaps Maine’s most prominent non-profit membership organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and conserving the state’s environment, NRCM recognized Thanks But No Tank for its uphill but in time victorious campaign to stop DCP Midstream LLC from building a major marine terminal in this small coastal community. The project, which initially had the full support of federal and state agencies plus the considerable financial resources of DCP Midstream, would have entailed a massive industrial development in tiny Searsport that would have included a massive cryogenic 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas tank the height of a 14-story building looming up over the head of beautiful unspoiled Penobscot Bay.
“TBNT represents citizen activism at its best,” NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann declared in remarks at the annual awards recognition gathering Oct. 16 in Portland. “This kind of on-the-ground community group carries considerable sway with decision makers.”
TBNT is made up of residents and small business owners who live and work in communities around Penobscot Bay who became concerned about the impacts the proposed LPG terminal and tank would have on their homes, businesses, communities and quality of life. TBNT members moved into action in 2011 and provided outreach, education and testimony, sharing their concerns about the hazards posed by the project, the dangerous and burdensome implications to local traffic as well as excessive visual, light, noise, and air pollution.
The award was determined by vote by NRCM supporters with TBNT well out in front among the five statewide finalists. The awards event was attended by many of Maine’s environmentalists including TBNT members, legal counsel, friends and supporters.
Ken Agabian, TBNT’s Communications Manager, accepted the award on behalf of the Searsport-based organization, whose efforts to stop the proposed liquefied petroleum gas mega-tank and terminal were repeatedly frustrated at the federal and state levels. TBNT did not give up, however, and the diligent research by its members and accompanying publicity they provided throughout the Penobscot Bay region ultimately prevailed when they helped persuade the Searsport Planning Board to deny the local permits critical to construction of that facility.
“Keep fighting to protect the Maine you believe in,” TBNT’s Agabian urged fellow environmentalists in remarks at the awards ceremony. He thanked NRCM for the honor and all who aided his group’s cause including those from numerous other organizations which played a role lobbying local municipal governments, writing letters and op-eds, and providing testimony and education to the Searsport Planning Board and residents of Maine’s Midcoast region.
NRCM’s 2013 People’s Choice Award is the second such honor TBNT has won for its efforts from a major Maine-based environmental organization. In September, the Sierra Club of Maine met in Rockland to celebrate its 20th anniversary, marking the occasion by presenting TBNT with its Grassroots Leadership Award.