Letters, Jan. 30

Jan 30, 2020

Fight climate change by meeting commitments

Nordic Aquafarms' carbon footprint is equivalent to adding 34,000 to 47,000 residents to Belfast. The Republican Journal editorial board made an interesting point, that “climate change is best fought with policy.” What they didn’t say is that Maine has passed laws to reduce greenhouse gases to 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (Chapter 3A of Title 38, statute §576-A). Nordic alone represents 4.6% to 6.4% of Maine’s 2030 GHG target.

Janet Mills signed an executive order, announced at the United Nations, committing to carbon neutrality by 2050. Belfast has signed the Global Covenant of Mayors and “WE ARE STILL IN” which “…declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.” Article 4 of the Paris Agreement states “…to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century,” in other words, carbon neutral by 2050.

In performing a CO2 assessment, I’m not “fighting every development.” Nordic most resembles a concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO. It would use our air, our bay, our groundwater, mostly for free, in unimaginable quantities for corporate profit. With greenhouse gases 5 to 7 times greater than all Belfast residents combined, existing businesses and residents would shoulder even deeper CO2 reductions to comply with current laws and commitments.

What makes Nordic’s impact so large is the electricity to move so much water and the quantities of fish feed. But also, the concrete, steel, tanks, buildings, pipelines, pumps, generators and filters. Add to that the liquidation of a mature forest that sequesters carbon. Then bulldoze 12 to 48 feet of carbon-storing wetlands and soils. Truck unstable soils offsite. Truck in stable fill. Then lay three pipelines out into Penobscot Bay. It adds up — equivalent to 120,000 to 150,000 more cars on Maine’s roads.

The embodied carbon to build a massive tank farm is spent upfront, before a pump is turned on. Our analysis doesn’t consider the climate impacts of deconstruction or many of the smaller components and operational realities. We didn’t calculate the risks from design flaws, disputes, massive die offs, or plummeting salmon prices.

The Journal writes, “It must be addressed with legislation and political action.” Agreed. There are six organizations holding Nordic accountable, with lawsuits, hiring of experts and massive political participation at public hearings.

Jim Merkel


The end is not near

In his Jan. 25 op-ed column, Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim says Nordic has been accused of misrepresentation, but then Heim falsely says Nordic is approaching the end of permitting.

The Planning Board hasn't completed its meetings, and DEP hasn’t held its hearing(s), and both decisions will likely be appealed.

Nordic's Army Corps of Engineers application faces four more hurdles.

That’s not approaching the end.

Heim says he believes no Nordic staff has lied. But Nordic falsely told the Legislature that fish can't escape from land-based fish farms, which is disputed by Nordic's own website. Nordic's website misrepresents the length of Nordic’s discharge pipe. A Nordic panelist falsely said humans don’t eat the fish that go into fishmeal. Nordic has falsely said fish farms are the most efficient protein producers. Nordic knowingly withheld title information from the state.

The column implies that Nordic is environmental. But environmentalists don’t destroy 56 acres of wetlands, wildlife habitat and woods, and daily dump 7.7 million gallons of effluent and 1,600 pounds of nitrogen. The column says impacts have been overstated, but these are Nordic's figures.

The column says Nordic believes in "good animal welfare standards," but Nordic wants to destroy habitat of the threatened bobolinks bird. And Nordic’s fish will swim in circles in an artificial environment from birth until slaughter.

The column says Nordic planned to hire many more people in Belfast, but very few of Nordic's 30 or more hires have been from Belfast, or even Waldo County.

The column says the project involves hundreds of jobs. First it was 60-100 jobs, then 100, then more than 100, now it's "hundreds."

The column says Nordic’s “seafood segment” is supported by environmentalists, but Nordic's project is opposed by the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club, the country’s oldest and biggest environmental organization.

The letter says the permitting process will end in 2020. Maybe. But maybe not, if permit decisions are appealed, which is likely.

Finally, Heim thanked those who have stood up for a fact-based process. I do, too. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include Nordic Aquafarms.

Lawrence Reichard


Policy driven by science

Thank you for your Jan. 23 “Climate change is best fought with policy” editorial and for this opportunity to continue this transparent dialog. I believe many in our community have been well-educated in and care about science and know we are at a crucial time in human history.

Nordic has been elusive with its data and it should be noted there are many different voices in "Nordic’s opposition.” Grouping us all into one bundle has made our work easier for them to dismiss as just more NIMBY.  Our research clearly shows that RAS and Nordic are not sustainable in a world that needs to decarbonize rapidly because of climate change.

My research into Nordic has been guided by “The Urgency of Embodied Carbon and What You Can Do About It," (an article on buildinggreeen.com). I built three separate Life Cycle Assessments using this guidance to identify industry-standard and state-of-the-art tools. These tools require input data and through rigorous research of Nordic’s permitting process documents and informational sessions we found or were able to make reasonable assumptions to get the necessary input data.

Nordic claims it will use eight generators. Caterpillar makes one that meets Nordic’s specs. It weighs 43,000 pounds and manufacturing eight of those would produce a lot of embodied carbon.

Another example would be electricity usage. Despite claims of transparency, Nordic will not reveal its expected overall power usage.

However, Nordic does say its backup generator electricity usage will be 13.2MW, so we modeled that, yielding an annual figure of 115,708MWH per year. As I testified to the Belfast Planning Board Jan. 8, this electricity would power all the households in Belfast, Northport, Lincolnville, Camden, Rockport and Rockland combined.

I was able to model all 10 buildings, the site prep including roadwork and the three pipelines into Belfast Bay — which itself is a considerable construction project.

What I didn’t include, because of insufficient data, is all the carbon in Nordic’s eight smokestacks, metal decking, railings, fixtures, doors, windows, pipes, tanks, motors and pumps. These are all very significant sources of embodied carbon.

Nordic questions our assumptions and numbers; however, our intention is to accurately assess how this project will impact Belfast’s and Maine’s ability to meet its Climate Commitments and we invite Nordic to participate with us. Like The Republican Journal, I believe climate change is best mitigated with commitment to policy driven by science.

George Aguiar


What’s Big Pharma got to do with it?

One cannot help but notice signs saying “Yes on 1 Reject Big PHARMA,” which have been popping up like measles. You might think that the ballot question has something to do with reining in pharmaceutical companies and their immoral pricing policies.

However, you would be wrong. Question 1 is not about pharmaceutical companies, for whom vaccines are a small part of their business. It is a vote to put our children and others at risk from easily prevented communicable diseases. It is a vote to reject science and the security that vaccination-created herd immunity has brought us.

In contrast, voting No on 1 will ensure that people at medical risk from vaccinations can be exempted from having them, but other people in public settings such as schools will be vaccinated for their own safety and that of others. This commonsense strategy maximizes public health and safety both individually and collectively.

Do not be misled by the signs. If you vote Yes on 1 what you will actually be rejecting is public safety.

On March 3 you should vote No on 1 to reject polio, measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and more.

Trudy Miller


Comments (1)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Feb 05, 2020 07:05

Thank you Jim Merkel, George Aguiar and Lawrence Reichard for your diligence

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