Letters, Nov. 26

Nov 26, 2020

Questions remain in Nordic permit process

Nordic Aquafarms’ permitting process with the Department of Environmental Protection is far from over. Board of Environmental Protection member Susan Lessard stated that “this isn’t a period at the end of a sentence but more like three dots.” Nordic has a very steep slope ahead of them to meet the multiple conditions the Department of Environmental Protection requested. Given the opportunity for appeals on many of the permit conditions, this process will drag on for years.

We look forward to getting this in front of a judge and will be filing our appeal in the coming days. The BEP has granted permits that were incomplete and instead is letting Nordic fill in the blanks after the fact. That approach is both illogical and illegal.

The DEP has asked for multiple conditions which would normally be required before permits get approved. Board members questioned the wisdom of applying conditions at the same time as issuing permits, but in the end all votes were unanimous without discussion, suggesting that the vote was predetermined.

At least 12 of the conditions on the site location of development application permit open the door for further appeals that require public hearings. Upstream is fortunate to have a strong science-based team in place to see this process through, however long that may take. Upstream will continue to stand with the need for much more conclusive data and clear answers before construction begins.

The law says that conditions can only be used for minor and easily fixable issues and they are not interchangeable with permit requirements. Permit conditions are allowed to assure compliance with the permit, not to qualify for a permit after the project is constructed. Nordic still has a lot of questions to answer.

Amy Grant

President, Upstream Watch

Belfast

Smith thanks voters

I would like to send my sincere thank-you to all who voted for me in my pursuit of the District 96 State Representative seat. I was blessed to get to know so many of you personally and feel very privileged to have heard your stories and your hopes for our towns. I know that we can all stand tall knowing that we worked in a positive and diligent manner and pursued our goal with integrity.

With such a small difference in votes between myself and Mr. Zeigler, I hope that you will all reach out to him with your concerns during the next two years, as you deserve to have your voice both heard and respected. I will continue in other pursuits working for your voice to be heard in our district and in our state, and I continue to look forward to meeting you.

Katrina Smith

Palermo

The BEP's fatal flaws

Last week the Maine Board of Environmental Protection approved permits for Nordic Aquafarms' industrial fish farm.

In its decision, BEP ignored and violated many of its own rules and regulations by not requiring Nordic to perform legally mandated studies. Apparently the board is happy to fly blind with the future of Belfast Bay and the woods, wetlands and wildlife habitat Nordic seeks to destroy.

The BEP decision has at least two fatal flaws. Before it can even apply for BEP permits, Nordic must by law establish title, right and interest to all lands it intends to use, but BEP chose to completely ignore very substantial problems with Nordic's TRI. It's ludicrous to rule that Nordic has sufficient TRI while Nordic's TRI is being litigated in court — especially when a Maine court recently ruled that active litigation by definition obviates TRI. The BEP chose to utterly ignore this.

The second flaw is the question of Nordic's competence — or incompetence. As an official BEP intervenor who has repeatedly documented significant Nordic incompetencies, I was barred from addressing these incompetencies in my testimony.

This, too, is ludicrous. As city of Belfast attorney Bill Kelly has urged the Belfast Planning Board to do, the BEP focused exclusively on the viability of Nordic's design, not the company's ability to actually follow that design competently. That's like buying a perfectly viable new Ford and then handing the keys to your 4-year-old child.

Perhaps the worst of all this is that no BEP member lives in Belfast or Northport. Thus none of them will have to live with the consequences of allowing Nordic to daily spew at least 7.7 million gallons of effluent into Belfast Bay, to annually devour at least 630 million gallons of our freshwater, and to destroy our woods, wetlands, wildlife habitat and hiking trails.

With its Nordic decision, the BEP has failed to protect our environment and has failed the people of Maine — all for the sake of wealthy corporate executives and stockholders, and high-end consumers. Let's hope our courts don't follow suit.

Lawrence Reichard

Belfast

Get facts straight

I am responding to Mr. Eric Schrader's letter, "Thorns for Rose" (TRJ, Nov. 19, 2020). I don't mind that he adores President Trump, but he should get his facts straight.

He says Donald Trump "built a multinational company ... and helped out countless people, financially, including people of color."

Between 1991 and 2009 he had six bankruptcies: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Casino Hotel (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). These put countless thousands of people out of work, ruined them financially, including many people of color. Donald Trump, however, bragged about how he "knew" how to handle bankruptcy law and walked away with over $600,000 from the three Atlantic City bankruptcies alone. I call that "theft," not "good business."

Regarding your opinion of Gov. Mills and Dr. Shah, their leadership has made us the fourth-safest state in the United States against COVID-19 deaths. I do not practice any particular religion, but I believe a human life is worth more than a business.

Brian Callahan

Searsport

Standing together

The weekly stand in support of Black Lives Matter that takes place at noon on Sundays at the corner of High and Main streets in Belfast was interrupted by a group of people protesting against masks and public health mandates. It was not a pleasant encounter.

The folks standing in support of BLM have remained peaceful and conscious of mask-wearing and safe distancing since we began in March, and will continue to stand in a peaceful and safe manner for racial justice.

That was Sunday. On Saturday, I got to stand with the people of Swanville in the parking lot at the Town Hall, everyone wearing masks, even if we didn't want to be. And we voted unanimously for the town to buy the dam at the end of Swan Lake! Everybody benefits. It felt so good to be together.

Meredith Bruskin

Swanville

Kudos to poll workers

I am writing to thank our many elections officials, our dedicated poll workers, here in Waldo County, in the rest of Maine and in the nation as a whole. False claims have been made this year against the electoral process. False claims were made prior to Election Day to sow distrust in the elections and to prime susceptible voters to be more likely to believe continued false claims after the election. These are simply bully tactics. Social media has given oxygen to those who wish to cry foul while giving no evidence of foul play, and has kept many of us on hyper-alert.

Teams of elections officials across Maine and the nation have done their jobs with integrity. In this COVID pandemic year, they worked extra hard leading up to the election to keep us safe, and then they continued to work diligently, while keeping themselves safe, on Election Day and after, tallying and reporting the votes (some are still at it). They were tasked with a big job, and that is what they did. I have been extremely proud of this essential and nonpartisan segment of our democracy this year. These folks, our friends and neighbors, Republican and Democrat alike, in my opinion, deserve our recognition and thanks.

In 2020, the words “just doing my job” said by anyone in the chain of responsibility for counting my vote, whether or not “my” candidate won, sounds wonderful to my ears.

Barbara Clement

Brooks

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Dec 02, 2020 18:54

What planet are you on Cassida? The slippery slope to non-compliance for anyone seeking permits is permit issued after the fact. There is no holding anyone to the fire once permits are granted. Upstream Watch knows full well the permitting process. Gaslighting responses are useless. The permitting at the state level was politically motivated. "Bogging" their organization down with appeals? Upstream in it for the long haul. "Futility." Let's see in the end what that may come to.



Posted by: Jacki Cassida | Dec 02, 2020 10:38

For anyone concerned after reading Mrs. Grant's letter, I would like to reassure you that Nordic is comfortable that we'll be meeting the conditions the BEP has set forth. They've included them in the best interests of Maine's environment, and with every consideration that Intervenors like Upstream Watch and others have put forward. We feel that it's a good thing to set the bar high for other facilities like ours coming to Maine. The DEP/BEP has completely vetted Nordic's application more thoroughly than any other projects before the Board. Contrary to what was said here, the votes were unanimous only after MANY discussions, because each Board member understands that given the evidence and data provided, that Nordic does and will in fact comply with every permit requirement and condition. Mrs. Grant may have been misunderstanding the BEP permitting process, and the DEP staff did explain how common it is to require additional information and clarification on applications at the last meeting. Mrs. Grant suggesting that the vote was "predetermined" is putting Upstream Watch on dangerous ground of accusing the Department of Environmental Protection of illicit behavior. I hope "predetermined" to her means that each board member carefully reviewed and discussed every facet of the application and came to a confident decision, therefore determining their vote.

Incidentally, Upstream Watch's website says, "The purpose of Upstream Watch is to advocate for the health of Midcoast Maine rivers and watersheds through science and education."  It led me to ask the question, what other projects has Upstream worked on? There didn't seem to be information on the website other than a Nordic related focus. The Midcoast with its dozens of rivers must offer a lot of opportunity for great work to be done, and bogging their organization down with the steep slope of an appeal process seems like an effort in futility and a waste of resources donated by people in our community. There is so much more that Upstream Watch could do for the benefit of education in our community. Wouldn't it be something if collaboration could be a part of our future? Perhaps, if their alpacas or our salmon start flying...

Be well, friends and neighbors- more Nordic Aquafarms updates coming soon!



Posted by: Georges Nashan | Nov 28, 2020 18:34

Thank you, Paul. Sorry to have missed that.

Barbara



Posted by: Paul Sheridan | Nov 28, 2020 11:45

Thank you Barbara Clement for your letter.

Just to be clear however, corrections in ALL CAPS:

"...These folks, our friends and neighbors, Republican, Democrat, GREEN INDEPENDENT AND UNENROLLED alike, in my opinion, deserve our recognition and thanks..."



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