Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mayor John Craig responds to Baldaccii LNG letter - St. Andrews will suffer huge financial loses!

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 LNG tankers are huge. This photo creation compares an average large tanker with one of the largest freighters ever to enter Passamaquoddy Bay. Using gunboats for enforcement an exclusion zone that can be up to 2 miles is used to ban all activity around the tanker, the cargo, and the terminal. Such exclusion could virtually shut down industries on which St. Andrews depends. See

Art MacKay


Mayor objects to Maine LNG terminals
Published Thursday April 15th, 2010

ST. ANDREWS - Maine should treat its neighbour better, St. Andrews Mayor John Craig says in a letter to state Gov. John Baldacci.

Derwin Gowan/Telegraph-Journal

St. Andrews Mayor John Craig says local emergency services don't have the resources to respond to an LNG accident.

The mayor wrote to the governor this week to stress the town's opposition to proposed liquefied natural gas terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay. The tankers supplying the terminals would have to pass through the Canadian waters of Head Harbour Passage - between Deer Island and Campobello Island - placing undue responsibility on local emergency services, Craig said.

"As they have told us, the LNG proponents have no legal responsibility for the supply of emergency services in the event of an accident," the mayor said in the letter.

"The emergency services in this area of New Brunswick have neither the resources nor the training to even begin to respond to an LNG incident. To consider imposing this risk on those who cannot protect themselves is not the right way to be a good neighbour."

Craig wrote the letter as a result of Baldacci's Jan. 29 letter urging the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to expedite the approval process for the Downeast LNG project - one of two remaining proposals for LNG terminals in Washington County, Maine.

To Craig, this breaks a promise by the governor not to intervene in the approval process for the Downeast LNG and Calais LNG proposals.

Craig, running as an independent candidate in the Sept. 27 provincial election, challenges the governor's statement that he speaks on behalf of the people of Maine on the LNG issue.

"There are a lot of people in Maine who are not in favour of it," Craig said in an interview.

"He's broken his word that he would personally stay out of the process," Craig said in the interview. Baldacci "doesn't speak for everyone in Maine," he said.

The FERC appears to be delaying approval of Downeast LNG's application due to concern that the United States Department of Transportation's regulations concerning modelling of LNG spills might no longer be appropriate, Baldacci said in his letter.

The governor demands the same treatment for Downeast LNG as the commission gave to a project in Oregon, issuing a final environmental impact statement despite the modelling concerns.

The proponents continue to push the Maine proposals through the American regulatory process despite the stance by the Canadian government that it will not allow LNG tankers to traverse Head Harbour Passage.

Proponents argue that international shipping has the right of innocent passage through this Canadian passage to reach American shores.

Supporters of the American projects accuse Canada of using environmental concerns to prevent competition to the LNG terminal in Saint John.

Craig, like other opponents on both sides of the border, doesn't buy this.

"This type of development in the proposed locations will have a significant negative impact on the fishery, aquaculture and tourism which are the economic basis for our town," his letter states.

"We are a resort town, not unlike Camden, Rockport or Kennebunkport. The attraction of this town to summer residents and tourists depends on the natural environment and a feeling of safety and security.

"The safety and security of the citizens of Saint Andrews, Charlotte County and the Province of New Brunswick would be placed in a most precarious position with an LNG development so close to the international border."

Downeast LNG would locate its terminal at Robbinston, directly across from St. Andrews. Calais LNG would locate farther upriver across from the Canadian port of Bayside.

Proponents say the projects provide desperately needed work in a poor region of the United States. Opponents say the projects would threaten more economic activity than they would create. 

Media Credit: photo creation by Art MacKay from web sources. Base photo is Bangor Daily News.

Canada Remains Firm - Head Harbour Passage is sovereign Canadian waters.

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Energy corridors measure doesn't budge Canada on LNG
Maine backers hoped change would soften Canada's position


Portland Press Herald

Maine's lifting of a moratorium on energy corridors this week won't change Canada's opposition to liquefied natural gas tankers sailing through New Brunswick waters to proposed terminals in Washington County, the Canadian Prime Minister's office said Wednesday.

"Our position remains the same," said Sara MacIntyre, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "These are sovereign waters."

Ottawa's reaction followed a news release by LNG advocates in Maine noting that the corridor ban had ended and urging Canada to drop its opposition to tanker traffic through Head Harbour Passage, the access route to two proposed terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay. Those projects, in Calais and Robbinston, are seeking state and U.S. permits. But without some compromise by Canada, they cannot be built.

The blunt response suggests that Maine's LNG supporters have made no progress in trying to persuade Canada to soften its longstanding position.

After a year of study and debate, Maine lawmakers adopted a comprehensive law to protect the state's financial and environmental interests, if and when developers build billion-dollar transmission corridors connecting Canada and the Northeast. The state banned those projects after Fort Reliance, the parent company of New Brunswick-based Irving Oil, began studying an energy corridor through Maine. Fort Reliance operates a new LNG terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick.

At the urging of Maine LNG supporters, lawmakers banned new energy corridors from Canada. The idea was to put pressure on the Canadian government, making a link between allowing transmission corridors across Maine and opening up an energy corridor through New Brunswick's waters.

But it doesn't appear that Canada made that connection.

"The press release is nice and we welcome it," said Neal Burnham, a spokesman for the Canadian Consulate in Boston. "But it doesn't change the principles by which we oppose tankers."

Head Harbour Passage is an internal waterway under the control of Canada, Burnham said, subject to international treaties. Canada says it won't allow fuel tankers through the narrow channel because of concerns about the potential impact of a spill or grounding on tourism, fishing and property values. Ottawa took the same stance in 1975, when U.S. developers proposed building the Pittston oil refinery in Eastport.

The issue resurfaced in recent years after LNG developers, unsuccessful in persuading other communities along the Maine coast to host a terminal, arrived in Washington County. High unemployment and energy costs have made some residents and officials there more receptive, and they are disappointed by Canada's latest response.

"It's important for Canada to understand that this is an important issue on our side of the border," said Maine Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, R-Perry.

Raye, who grew up in Eastport, said the Canadian government's position amounts to a threatened blockade of U.S. waters. "The U.S. does not accept that erroneous interpretation," he said of Canada's control of water access to the terminal sites.

That view has repeatedly been expressed by the U.S. State Department, according to a letter on the subject last fall to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

All commercial traffic, including LNG tankers, has a "nonsuspendable right of innocent passage into and out of the region through Head Harbour Passage," the State Department said.

The department responded to Collins after she wrote President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking them to take up the matter with Harper when he visited Washington in September.

But at least publicly, Canada has rejected the United States' interpretation.

Harper made that clear in January, when dignitaries from both sides of the border dedicated a new bridge connecting Calais and St. Stephen, New Brunswick. In response to a media question, he replied: "Our position is that these are sovereign Canadian waters. We've been opposed to tanker traffic through this passage, and we continue to make representations to the United States government at the highest levels on this."

Diplomacy typically takes place out of public view. But at the Canadian Consulate, Burnham insisted that despite rumors to the contrary, no negotiations are taking place between Washington and Ottawa.

The corridor moratorium was originally promoted by Maine Jobs First, a coalition of business and labor interests that wants to build the LNG terminals. Tony Buxton, a lawyer representing the Calais LNG venture, noted Wednesday that despite the dispute, Canada remains America's largest trading partner and close ally.

"We continue to be optimistic that this matter can be worked out, as other matters have, through diplomacy," he said.

Last Maine sardine cannery closing

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Excerpt from: Bangor Daily News

The United States’ sardine industry began in Eastport in the late 1800s. Since then, more than 400 sardine factories have opened and closed along Maine’s coast.

“Way back when I was growing up, they had plants all over Down East,” said Beatrice Buckley, 77, who worked in the Stinson Seafood office for 16 years and has lived on the Schoodic Peninsula her entire life.

“We shipped to practically every state. There were warehouses everywhere.” At one time in the early 1950s, sardines were the largest economic industry in the state, supporting nearly 6,000 jobs, according to Peabody.

“That’s still hard for me to believe,” he said. “For so many years, it was the financial backbone for the coast.”

Like many coastal Mainers of a certain age, Peabody grew up on sardines. He remembers accompanying his father to local canneries to buy bait. Later in life, he and his wife, Mary, began collecting sardine-related artifacts. In 2001, they opened their history museum. It was still living history then.

From World War II through the 1990s, canneries steadily began to close. In 1999, Connors Bros. Ltd. of New Brunswick bought Stinson Seafood canneries in Bath, Belfast, Prospect Harbor and Lubec. Belfast and Lubec closed within a few years, followed by Bath in 2005.

Peabody said Connor Bros. and its sister company, Bumble Bee Foods, finished off the industry here. “They bought factories and closed them,” he said. “They wanted a monopoly. Now they have it.”

Robert Peacock of Eastport also grew up on sardines and even owned five sardine factories at one time. They have all closed. He has shifted instead to sea urchin and sea cucumber processing. Peacock said federal and state policies have made it virtually impossible to manufacture anything in Maine anymore.

“From the time I was a teenager on, any manufacturing has been decimated. It’s not a lack of fish or a lack or market,” he said. “If you want to see what can happen, go to [Connor Bros’ plant in] Blacks Harbour [New Brunswick].”

Peabody said that it’s cheaper and less regulatory to do business in Canada, but that the same could be said of dozens of other industries. Cannery officials also have blamed the industry’s death on federal reductions in the catch limit for Atlantic herring. The change was to combat overfishing, but some felt the restrictions went too far.

The reasons are irrelevant now.

“They did overfish, but not to the point where all these factories had to close,” Peabody said. “I think it will always be something that people feel bad about.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Loss of Credit Union on Deer Island is more than fraud ... it's a sin of the system!

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Along with many other Deer Islanders, my Dad, Stewart McKay, and I put out a lot of effort to establish a credit union on the Island many years ago. What kind of central management misses something like this for crying out loud ... somebodies auditing is less than adequate! And how come the Provincial Government bails out a Caisse Populaire in northern NB that has an even worse situation.

So much for community governance!!

That's my opinion anyway. Art


Google News Alert for: bay of fundy
Fraud shutters only bank on NB island
The small island in the Bay of Fundy had its own credit union for 28 years, but the institution never recovered from losing $1.7 million to fraud over ...
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So who is winning the war on terrorism?

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Border: Bridge or barrier?

US tourists staying away from Canada

By Sharon Kiley Mack
BDN Staff

David McVay (center) and his wife, Caroline (far right), own a barbershop in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. They said that they don’t travel to the U.S. as frequently as they used to. “It’s a combination of a few things. It was a long wait at the border crossing, the economy and gas prices. Plus people don’t like to be questioned at the border,” David McVay said as he cut Bill Foster’s hair. “The U.S. has gone from fighting terrorism to just plain fighting. America has turned into a fortress.”

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — Jeff McShane, 43, has a pretty sweet job as the manager of the Ganong Chocolatier just over the border from Calais, Maine.

“I deal with tourists every day,” he said recently.

But over the last four years, McShane has watched the number of American tourists in his shop plummet from 80 percent of his business to less than 50 percent.

“Since 9-11, since the border restrictions have been in place, it has been more and more difficult for U.S. travelers to get back into their own country,” he said. “We used to have lots of U.S. customers. Now it is totally the other way around. Our customers are mostly Canadian.”

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, Canada’s tourism receipts overall in 2009 were down 3 percent to $16 billion, while visits from Americans dropped by 9 percent.

The final quarter of 2009 was even worse, when American visits dropped by 12 percent.

“Americans were behind a large part of this change due to 2 million fewer trips to Canada,” a study by the commission reported.

“You Americans are the cause of the drop,” McShane said. “We Canadians have increased our trips.”

While no one can say for certain whether it is the stricter border restrictions or the economy that has Americans turning around at the border, anecdotally it appears that many people are not willing to spend the money for the documents now required to enter, or re-enter the U.S. — either a passport costing $100 or a passcard for $45. For a family of four on vacation, passport purchases could add an additional $180 to $400 to their vacation expenses.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, these are now required identification when entering the U.S. as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The initiative requires U.S. and Canadian travelers to present a passport or other document that indicates identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. According to the Homeland Security Web site, “The goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors, while strengthening U.S. border security. Standard documents will enable the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.”

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect June 1, 2009, for land and sea travel into the U.S. Travel initiative document requirements for air travel went into effect in 2007.

In addition to passports and passcards, several other forms of identification can be used such as enhanced driver’s licenses and Trusted Traveler Program Cards issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Maine does not issue enhanced driver’s licenses.

Fewer entries into Maine

Anecdotal and statistical evidence may indicate that stricter border requirements curb travel, though officials demur.

A case in point is the contrast of the number of visitors to the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Park on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, and the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec — two major Down East tourist destinations that are just six miles apart.

Since the new border restrictions took effect, the free international park has lost an average of 50,000 visitors a year, dropping from 150,000 in 2005 to 100,000 last year.

Yet the lighthouse — a short drive away — has gained visitors.

Debora Bridges, the manager of the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse Visitors Center, said that in 2005, 18,630 people visited the lighthouse and the surrounding park. In 2009, 19,311 people came.

She said she saw no decrease in visitors from Canada, but she heard from many American visitors that they were not going on to Campobello or New Brunswick because of the border requirements.

“I talk to hundreds of people a day at the center, and [some] tell me they just decided not to get [a passcard or passport],” Bridges said. “They told me they don’t live near any other border, and they don’t intend to pay for something they will never use again.

“I’m 100 percent sure that the drop in visitors to Canada from Maine is because of the passport issue,” she said.

Statistics provided by U.S. Homeland Security and the Canadian Border Services Agency detail the decrease.

The numbers of passenger vehicles coming into Maine from Canada — which would include returning U.S. visitors — have dropped over the past four years at every single border crossing. Crossings into Van Buren were down by 105,841 vehicles; Madawaska was down by 153,366; Jackman had 40,000 fewer vehicles come through.

Nowhere are the numbers more telling than at Calais, a traditional tourist route that links the Maritime Provinces and the Bay of Fundy with Down East Maine and New England.

At Calais, 253,754 fewer vehicles came in from Canada in 2009 compared to 2005 — 890,247 compared to 1.174 million four years earlier.

The numbers from the Canadian side show the trend.

The Canadian Border Services Agency said 166,610 fewer cars crossed into Canada at Calais last year than in 2005 — 576,372 compared to 742,987.

Joanne Ferreira, a Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson, said she doubted the border regulations were affecting the number of border crossings.

“Travel and tourism has been down everywhere for five years, not just after the requirements went into effect,” she said Monday.

“The requirements are the law to secure our borders,” she said. “Based on your travel needs, there are options. The passcards are easy to get and less expensive than passports, and many travelers already have enhanced driver’s licenses.”

She added that “there could be other factors [affecting border crossings] such as the economy and the weather. The border crossing identification regulations could be one factor, but not the only one.”

Pat Eltman, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, said she was unaware of the border crossing statistics and could not comment.

Staying home

Looking from the entrance to the Ganong Chocolate Museum in St. Stephen, director Diane Lombard can see the U.S. and the Ferry Point border crossing at Calais. But what Lombard does not see are American tourists.

“The number of American tourists visiting the museum is down by at least 30 to 35 percent,” she said. “Our total visitor numbers have increased, but those are Canadian visitors.”

Lombard said U.S. travelers used to be a large part of the museum's market. “But we have noticed the shift to more people from New Brunswick and Quebec, so we have shifted our marketing,” she said.

The museum no longer advertises in Maine publications or pays for a kiosk at the Bangor Mall.

“We used to see bus tours from the U.S. stopping here all the time,” she said. “But that has dropped to a handful.”

With the Canadian dollar nearly at par with the U.S. dollar recently, some travelers may not see the advantage of spending their money in Canada.

“When it was 50 cents on the dollar, well, the Americans couldn't spend enough here,” Lombard said. “But it is not to their advantage now that we are nearly at par.”

This turn of events could be interpreted as a boon for Maine's tourism economy as New Englanders and Mainers stay closer to home, stopping short of the border.

Figures released at the end of last year indicate an 8 percent increase in both day use and overnight camping at Maine's state parks in 2009, the largest increase in seven years. More than 2.34 million visitors came to the parks in 2009, 165,000 more visits than in 2008, according to the state Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Spokesperson Jeanne Curran said recently that Canadians make up the second-largest out-of-state group of visitors to the parks.

Meanwhile, retailers in the Bangor area say Canadians continue to visit and spend money.

“The Canadian traffic here has been a lifesaver in this economy,” Karen Cole, director of the Bangor Area Chamber of Commerce, said recently.

Still, many believe that economics is just a part of the total picture.

Vernon McKimmey, director of the FDR park at Campobello, said increased security and the passport requirements have had an impact on the international park's attendance.

He recalled a time several years ago when a tour bus full of senior citizens who just had spent the day at the park were stopped at the U.S. border and held for more than two hours as U.S. customs agents searched the bus and luggage.

“Word of those kinds of events spreads quickly in the tourism industry,” he said. “I'll bet not one of those people will return to Canada.”

“It's definitely the passport issue,” Daniel McVay of St. Stephen said.

He said the questioning at the border has become tougher and more aggressive. “You have gone from fighting terrorism to just plain fighting. You've turned America into a fortress, and your own people find it a hassle to get back in.”