The construction of the east-west corridor is being opposed by a group of concerned residents who meet regularly and are building support for a community rights ordinance in Dover-Foxcroft that opposes the project.
While many residents have voiced the opinion that the project is dead because they have not heard about it recently in the media, this citizen group is certain that the project is alive and well and urges Dover-Foxcroft residents to get involved. The group’s motto is “Who Decides? We Do.”
Members point out that not only did Andy Vigue, the son of Peter Vigue and new standard-bearer for Cianbro Corp.’s project, say in June that Cianbro was “in the final stages of preliminary development” for the project, but Peter Vigue and Darryl Brown continue to say, “It’s going to happen.”
Gov. Paul LePage touts the importance of northern Maine as a byway for international products to reach the central United States and has emphasized his relationship with development-hungry Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the positioning of Maine to benefit from Canadian investment.
Furthermore, development efforts are continuing for other projects along the proposed route, which leads many people to feel confident that a corridor is still in the works, albeit quietly. This silent strategy, the group believes, is deliberately intended to create false comfort and perhaps to quiet the opposition.
Meanwhile, witnessing the permit given by the Department of Environmental Protection for a sludge enterprise in Plymouth that is fouling the air and damaging the environment draws attention to the failure of the permitting process and regulatory agencies to truly protect communities.
Unfortunately, residents there trusted that the regulators would see that the business would harm their environment. As we learned in the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s Democracy School, regulatory agencies are in business to assist corporate entities in obtaining permits, and only limit how much damage is allowed. The DEP decided the odor and environmental risk were not “bad enough” to prohibit the sludge business.
Corporate entities from Canada and beyond continue to eye Maine as ripe for the taking. Projects throughout central Maine are being billed as “good for business” without any discussion by residents about how their communities and environment will be changed.
We ask anyone concerned about the east-west corridor development to act on what the Maine State Constitution proclaims is our “unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or totally change government” and to join us in writing a local community rights ordinance. Such ordinances have been successfully used to protect communities from other projects, such as sludge facility development, landfills, mining and pipelines.
The next Dover-Foxcroft Community Rights team meeting is 3-5 p.m. Sunday at Morton Avenue Community Room. Help us to practice true representative democracy.
If you live elsewhere in Maine, take heed. You are not immune from the corporate land-grab. Watch Nestle take Maine’s water or witness oil pipeline, mining and wind farm development.
Finally, if you want to learn more, consider signing up for a fall Democracy School being planned in Dover-Foxcroft, so you can find out how to assert your rights as a citizen. For more information call 992-6822.
Lesley M. Fernow is a member of the Dover-Foxcroft Community Rights team.