Letters, June 6, 2019

Jun 06, 2019

Enhance bay's ecosystem

The best use of the Little River watershed would be to replace the two current crumbling dams with new dams containing fish ladders, and then to put alewives and elvers in the two ponds.

Before a decade was over, there would be annual harvests of alewives for lobster bait and food, as well as elvers for export or mature eels for harvest.

The entire process would not endanger the bay's ecosystem; it would enhance it, and provide an income into the distant future for local fishermen.

William Burgess Leavenworth, Ph.D.

Retired environmental historian & mariner

Proud of Belfast

The goings-on of our city have become a little notorious in the last year. I’m writing in regards to the May 29 event at Belfast Free Library labeled “Connecting Our Struggles: Corporations or Community?”

First, I want to be clear that the small group hosting this event does NOT represent the citizens of Belfast. This group has made it its absolute (misguided) mission to be as big a thorn as possible to Nordic Aquafarms, without reservation.

The event topic was the scourge of big corporations (two others were included in the discussion), but it seemed like a guise to rally more protest against Nordic Aquafarms.

The slander and misinformation they and others who oppose the project have been spreading started out as merely annoying. Now, however, I am concerned the tactics being used are setting a precedent that will deter other good businesses from coming to Maine. When we are seeing our younger generations going elsewhere for work, we cannot afford to allow this behavior by giving it credence.

Those in opposition established so-called organizations on social media with the single intent of discrediting Nordic Aquafarms. Information posted looks relevant, but in fact is not. They accuse Nordic of supplying inaccurate information. In fact Nordic does the contrary, with scientific data behind it.

Nordic has an open-door policy. Go to their office in Belfast and say hello.

The opposition portrayed themselves as juveniles, defacing the Nordic Aquafarms logo and labeling them as “parasites” in their event description. They coerced neighbors into giving them a conservation easement without suggesting unbiased counsel. They’ve drawn in conservation groups to support them, and it is quite likely these groups were greatly misled.

The Maine chapter of the Sierra Club does not speak on behalf of the national Sierra Club. In fact, the Sierra Club actually supports and endorses practices that are responsible, innovative, and sustainable. Like Nordic.

It is beyond me (and other like-minded individuals) why there is a vendetta against this company. Those opposed are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. It’s sad folks outside Belfast have generalized opinions about our citizens because of the opposition (and the politics), or that citizens are having to “protest the protestors.”

It’s unfortunate that a lawsuit against the city will be paid for by Belfast’s taxpayers. It’s repugnant that those opposed have personally attacked Nordic employees.

It’s rude that someone hiding behind their social media group asked what my family stands to gain with Nordic Aquafarms being our neighbor and using part of our land. It’s none of anyone’s business. The assumption that it’s the only reason Nordic Aquafarms has my support was predictably shortsighted.

A recent meeting at the Camden Library discussed “non-violent” strategies for protesting against Nordic Aquafarms. Are we seeing those now?

If you are one of those who are opposing the Nordic Aquafarms project, I invite you to change your thinking and embrace that it’s OK to do so. We are conditioned to believe we have to stand by our principles, and in many cases we should. But on this one, I invite you to be strong enough to be wrong. You’ll be OK.

Whole Oceans in Bucksport is here. Another aquaculture company, Kingfish Zeeland, has  shown interest in coming to Maine as well. Be part of that progress.

I’ve done my research and I believe in this company’s mission. I believe in their innovation. They will raise the bar for environmental responsibility for other land-based aquafarms around the country. We need them here to do that.

Maine will continue paving the way as an aquaculture-strong state by embracing a model for sustainable food sourcing with healthy disease- and parasite-free, non-GMO methods and an environmentally responsible green presence. Nordic Aquafarms embodies that model and I am proud of Belfast for welcoming this project and for its continued support.

Jacki Cassida

Belfast

The house is on fire

I have appreciated the work that the Belfast City Council has done to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. It is somewhat astonishing to me that they do not seem concerned about adding Nordic Aquafarms into the mix, as this will essentially quadruple the carbon footprint.

Nordic principals claim they are environmentalists and that is why they are doing this project. While it is true that growing fish near the markets saves a lot of fuel, it is also true that the carbon footprint of this project is enormous.

Using the International Salmon Farming Associations’ figure of 26-30 pounds of carbon produced per pound of fish, we are talking about 390,000 tons of carbon to produce 15,000 tons of fish! And let’s not forget the 584,000 pounds of nitrogen and another 150,000 pounds of other pollutants being discharged into the bay yearly.

If we take generally accepted figures that the average American produces 20 tons of carbon per year, then Nordic’s production is equivalent to the yearly use of about 20,000 people.To offset this amount of CO2, we would need to plant nearly 14 million trees.

Now Nordic says this pollution is much less than this or that Penobscot Bay entity, but I am a believer in climate change and I am with Greta Thunberg. The house is on fire. The time for plopping down 20 acres of cement on a forest, creating millions of pounds of carbon and dumping pollution into an already struggling bay is over. Every new project we do from here on should be non-polluting.

I know what NAF says. They are saving fuel. But that is solely in the context of growing a fish which few in Waldo County can afford to buy and is not a good choice for affordable protein in the world. In other words, it is a luxury.

And, in the words of Greta Thunberg, we are selling our children's futures so that a few people can make enormous amounts of money. This project is about money. Big money. Eric Heim and Marianne Naess are venture capitalists.

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what one can do to help save the planet. Not eating salmon would be an easy place to start.

Jeffrey Mabee

Belfast

Know the real reason

Do you know that Nordic Aquafarms RAS technology will be expanded and tested over a matter of years? There is a petition being circulated by the opposition claiming that this technology is being fast-tracked and they are asking people to sign in favor of slowing it down.

I suspect the real purpose of this petition is to delay, delay until Nordic leaves town. If you sign ANY petition, make sure you know the REAL reason the petitioner wants your signature. It is not always as it seems.

Diane Braybrook

Belfast

Start caring about Belfast

I have been thinking about Nordic Aquafarms' proposed $500 million fish farm, and I've been thinking about what I would do with $500 million. I would want to use the money to preserve Maine's environment, because I love it just the way it is. Wild nature, green forests, wildlife and beautiful bodies of water. I love to walk in Maine's nature, looking for things I've never seen before and things I've seen a thousand times.

If I had $500 million, I would trust the people of Maine to know how to protect Maine's environment, because they've been doing it all along. I would invest in local economies and or fund initiatives that would give people decent livelihoods and satisfying jobs. I would not try to impose my ideas. I would work with the people of Maine. I would listen and ask questions so they would feel respected.

I am waiting for Nordic Aquafarms to start caring about Belfast, about Maine, and about being good neighbors. So far all they have done is divide our community. It seems that all Nordic loves about Maine is its resources and how to profit from them way more than it will give back to Mainers.

Nancy Durand Lanson

Monroe

Pollution is not patriotic

As Maine, part of the nation’s tailpipe, prepares for summer, here are four environmental announcements Trump made just this past week.

William Happer, a man who compares climate scientists to Nazis and warns that CO2 is in critically short supply, has been appointed to head up the administration’s new climate review panel. Described as a “red team/blue team debate,” Trump appointees will debate the existence of human-induced climate change.

Mr. Trump has approved additional exports of liquid natural gas from fracking. He says it’s a commitment for promoting clean energy. Assistant Secretary for Fossil Fuel Energy Steven Winberg says “DOE is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world.”

The Obama-era rule that limits amounts of ethanol in gasoline during the summer months, in which smog is more prevalent and can lead to health alerts, has now been rescinded. Reasons? To benefit Midwestern corn farmers suffering from the Chinese tariffs Trump’s policies have created. Also, to compensate for this spring’s devastating flooding (attributed largely to increasing climate chaos).

Farm states are largely red states — a potential coup for the presidential campaign he launched in January 2017.

Mr. Trump also revisited the fourth National Climate Assessment report, first created in 2000 and commonly used as a baseline for assessing future threats from climate change throughout the country. (Belfast’s Climate Change Committee used this assessment as an important guide in its three-part report for advising the City Council about sea level threats to the city’s waterfront.) Future reports will no longer cover worse-case scenarios beyond 2040.

In Maine, this means valuable input on long-range forecasts gathered by U/Maine scientists, NOAA, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Island Institute and others will be minimized or curtailed.

There may be a fifth update, but it’s hard to keep track of all the damage this commander in chief can unleash in one week. For those who mistrust mainstream media — warning: I got some of this information from the “failing NY Times.”

By the way, in last week’s op ed in The Republican Journal’s Another View, Jan Dolcater wrote that the Green New Deal “would do away with air travel” and cause the “elimination of all cattle because of their flatulence.” He didn’t cite the source for his information.

Pollution is not patriotic and environmentalists aren’t the enemy.

Beverly Roxby

Belfast

Ceasing operations

As of early May, the majority of board members and volunteers of Pay It Forward for Kids have resigned or moved on for various reasons (this includes R. Quattrucci, P. Schultz, S. Totman, T. Short, A. Mehuren and D. Bussell).

Members have expressed a sincere appreciation for the opportunity to help in alleviating the burden of families and children in Waldo County and are happy to see new legislation in place that will prevent food shaming in the school systems.

Without sufficient structural support, the organization will be unable to accept donations or continue operations at this time. Members and volunteers wish the best of luck for any future efforts that may occur and offer thanks for the community support that helped to make prior efforts a success.

Regina Quattrucci

Belfast

Fair solar compensation

Ever-increasing electricity rates for commercial and municipal consumers are holding back economic growth. For Maine businesses to thrive, we need to have a competitive energy marketplace to keep rates down. I have worked in the solar energy industry for a decade, and I know that, because of how most medium-sized commercial ratepayers are billed for transmission and distribution, solar energy is not as cost-effective under Maine’s Net Energy Billing rules.

A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, includes a component that would help remove such barriers by changing the way these consumers are reimbursed for their solar electricity — a new alternative to Net Energy Billing. These customers would be compensated through long-term fixed contracts with their utility provider, at roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the blended retail rate.

This would significantly boost the return on investment of a solar system by helping to offset expensive demand charges for electricity.

There are also two federal incentives: an energy tax credit and accelerated asset depreciation associated with a solar energy investment. The phase-down of the energy tax credit begins in 2020.

Expanding policy mechanisms, such as fair solar kilowatt-hour compensation for demand billing customers, will allow Maine businesses to take advantage of these federal programs while they exist, further boosting economic growth.

Danny Piper

Co-owner, Sundog Solar, Searsport

Swanville

Help Maine catch up

I have worked in the solar energy field since 2009, and I have seen how many barriers exist to clean energy development. Maine is among the last states for installed solar energy capacity and jobs, and we are missing out on the economic benefits of solar power.

High-quality jobs are created by keeping our energy dollars close to home.

A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, would boost the development of 400 megawatts of distributed solar energy capacity by 2024, benefiting residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial consumers. This bill will allow solar energy to help reduce rates for all Mainers and remove existing hurdles to solar energy development through several approaches, including large-scale shared community solar farms.

Many seniors, renters, and low- to moderate-income people are missing out on the benefits of solar energy. Community solar farms create equal access for people that cannot otherwise use solar electricity. LD 1711 would make community solar farms available to all consumers by lifting the arbitrary nine-participant cap to 200. These solar farms allow a subscription model for purchasing solar electricity, lowering individual costs by sharing it among as many.

State policies play an enormous role in solar energy deployment by helping to create competitive markets for innovative energy technologies. LD 1711 is a well-crafted bill that would help Maine catch up with our current and future energy needs.

Chuck Piper

Co-owner, Sundog Solar, Searsport

Searsmont

Grateful for bravery

As members of the Waldo County chapter of Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights, we applaud state Sen. Erin Herbig and Rep. Jan Dodge for supporting the reproductive rights of Mainers.

GRR is a non-partisan group of people from diverse backgrounds who believe that access to sexual and reproductive health care improves the lives of women and their families. We have in-depth knowledge about abortion before Roe v. Wade, and we remember what life was like for women when abortion was illegal and access to contraception very limited.

We thank Sen. Herbig and Rep. Dodge for standing up for equitable health care access and for rejecting the notion that any Mainer's income or insurance provider can dictate her ability to control her reproductive life.

We know that decisions like this one come with pushback and we are grateful to these politicians for the bravery and principled stance.

Mayo Bullock, Searsport; Judy Holland, Searsmont; Andree Bella, Kathy Kreamer, Lisa Kushner, Marje Stickler and Evie Tinker, Belfast

Applaud comprehensive health care

I want to thank Rep. Stanley Paige Zeigler and Sen. Erin Herbig for their support of LD 820, which expands MaineCare coverage to include abortion services as part of pregnancy-related insurance coverage for Maine women. I appreciate their political courage and their understanding that abortion services are part of comprehensive reproductive health care.

Preserving reproductive choice and removing barriers is essential to a framework that includes freedom of choice for women and their families. Reproductive health care is a very personal journey for each woman. These choices are life-changing and correlate to a person's dreams, hopes, and plans for the future, which include their partners and children.

We are fortunate to live in a state that has just passed MaineCare abortion coverage and the right for nurse practitioners to offer this service. I applaud our Legislature and governor for understanding the importance of comprehensive health care for Maine's citizens.

Lynne Kaplowitz

Montville


Comments (1)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jun 06, 2019 18:38

Regarding the lawsuit brought by Eleanor "Ellie" Daniels, who lives contiguous to the future Nordic AquaFarms site, against the City of Belfast, over $ 57,000 in legal fees have been spent to date according to Joe Slocum, City Manager, and the case hasn't even made it to Court.  Who knows what the final $ amount will come to when it's all said and done. Just to remind all taxpayers of Belfast that every $ spent on legal fees is a $ not available for much needed social services. With the budget crunch on for the 2020 fiscal year and the City asking all departments to target 10% savings, the last thing we need is a $ 100,000 legal bill. If there is some chance that the Court finds that the suit is frivolous in nature and dismisses it, I would hope that the City could possibly countersue Ms. Daniels to claw back the legal expenditures. Though I'm not an attorney and don't pretend to be one, wouldn't karma in this situation be a beautiful thing. I could only guess how the legal fees are covered on the plaintiff's side, possibly "pro bono". Let's all watch this play out and if it goes to court, it would be nice to see supporters of the Salmon Farm project show up in the courtroom to show support. Sure wish we had the British form of justice, as in "Loser Pays".



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