Archives for WERU News Report

WERU News Report 6/10/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

The Maine Department of Marine Resources Public Hearing on the Controversial Searsport Harbor Dredging Project

The auditorium of Searsport District High school last night was a sea of red shirts, worn by lobstermen and their supporters at a public hearing on the controversial Searsport harbor dredging project. Every person who spoke was opposed to the Army Corps of Engineer’s plan to dredge nearly a million cubic yards of material from the harbor and dump it near Islesboro. The public hearing was held by the Maine Department of Marine Resources who will advise the Department of Environmental Protection about potential impacts on the fisheries. Before the public spoke, the DMR staff explained the limited scope of the meeting and gave a brief overview of the proposal. We hear from them and from members of the public — including lobstermen and scientists — who spoke at the hearing.

FMI re the “Dawson Alternative”:

WERU News Report 6/3/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

An update on the controversial Searsport Harbor dredging project

The Department of Marine Resources is holding a public hearing next week (Tuesday 6/9/15, 6pm at Searsport District High School) focused on the fisheries impacts of the proposal to dredge nearly a million cubic yards of possibly contaminated silt from Searsport Harbor and dump it elsewhere in Penobscot Bay.

Additionally, attorney Kim Tucker (our guest today) has submitted a formal request for the Board of Environmental Protection to take over jurisdiction on the project. She represents the Maine Lobstering Union; the Lincolnville Lobstermen’s Association (including all licensed lobstermen and their sternmen who fish from Lincolnville, Maine); the Pemaquid Mussel Farm (“PMF”), located off Northport on land leased for cultivation of mussels; the Sierra Club of Maine (“Sierra Club”); the citizens and small business owners from the Searsport area known and incorporated as “Thanks But No Tank” (“TBNT”); as well as Armindy McFadden, co-owner and lease holder of the PMF off Northport, and a seaweed cultivation license holder and harvester off Searsport; and Mike Hutchings, western Penobscot Bay lobsterman, Zone D Lobster Council member from District 10 and the Lincolnville Harbor Master.

The rationale for this Army Corps of Engineers project is that the shipping channel needs to be expanded in order to increase commerce in the area – an assertion that opponents reject.
The location of the proposed dredging is in close proximity to an area that has been closed to lobstering and shell fishing because of mercury contamination, and testing for a nearby private dredging project found levels of heavy metals and other toxins that were several times about the acceptable limits. While proponents of the project claim that their own testing proves that the materials to be dredged are clean, their methods have been called into question by a scientist specializing in this type of testing who did a thorough review of their work.

The projected economic impacts of the project have also been called into question. Those who are promoting the project say increasing the depth of the shipping channel is necessary in order to allow larger commercial vessels to enter the port. They say that increased oil tanker traffic will lead to result in lower energy costs and that increased traffic in general will be a boon to the local economy. But many people who make their living on the bay are skeptical about the projected increase in shipping traffic. They have also expressed fears that the project jeopardizes an already booming local fishery and the tourism industry – all for the benefit of large multinational companies. The estimated $13 million dollar tab for the project would be paid by tax payers.

WERU News Report 5/27/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

Mining in Maine, what could possibly go wrong? Ask the residents of Blue Hill peninsula and they’ll tell you about the toxic legacy of the Callahan and Black Hawk/KerrAmerican mines. The representatives of the mining companies — who stand to make millions– say new technologies will prevent future disasters– but what are the guarantees? And is it worth the risk?

Today we talk with Mainers who have been working to prevent more mining disasters as the state legislature considers weakening existing mining regulations, and we open the phone lines for your calls.

Sidney Mitchell is a founding member of Friends Of The Piscataquis Valley, a group that formed in January of 2012. She says that as an active concerned citizen who opposes the Cianbro East-West Corridor, she became acutely aware of the threat posed by weaker mining regulations particularly after reading the OpEd in the BDN by Peter Vigue of Cianbro called ‘Embrace Change’ that promoted the Irving Gold Mine project in Aroostook. This lead her to begin connecting the dots between the East-West Corridor and other related corporate interests, including mining. Since that time she has twice traveled to El Salvador to learn how they are dealing with the mining issue there. And back here in Maine she has been following the issue closely, attending public hearings, submitting testimony and writing letters to the editor warning of the dangers of metallic mining.
Hendrik Gideonse lives in Brooklin, Maine not far from the legacy of at least 2 environmental disasters caused by mining. He’s a former selectman, retired educator and policy analyst and has been following the mining regulations rewrite since it started back in 2012. Like Sidney Mitchell, Hendrik Gideonse has devoted himself to attending public hearings & work sessions, offering testimony and writing letters to the editor and opeds, including one published 3 days ago in the BDN.

WERU News Report 5/20/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

(NOTE: Due to a problem with the recording, this archive starts with the show in progress)

As we go to air, the legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety is holding public hearings for 2 bills that would legalize marijuana in Maine:

LD 1380 An Act To Legalize, Tax and Regulate Marijuana sponsored by Rep. Russell of Portland. This bill, if passed, would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for a person 21 years of age and older, tax sales of marijuana and regulate the marijuana industry, which in the language of the bill is conducted by marijuana establishments. (Full text:

And LD 1401 An Act To Allow for and Regulate the Adult Use of Cannabis sponsored by Rep. Dion of Portland. This bill would reform state marijuana laws by establishing an excise tax on marijuana, allowing the personal use and cultivation of cannabis and allowing, regulating and licensing certain commercial cannabis-related activities, while providing provisions to protect persons under 21 years of age, employers and schools.
(Full text:

Today’s show features some of the testimony from the public hearing on these bills, and Hillary Lister of “Maine Matters” calls in from the statehouse with her impressions. We also take calls from listeners.

FMI: (The resource mentioned by Hillary Lister)

WERU News Report 5/13/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

Topic: Backlash against the anti-GMO movement

Back in the 90s environmental activists were the first to start warning about dangers potentially posed by advances in genetic engineering. Since that time an estimated 60+ countries have banned or restricted genetically modified organisms – or “GMOs” in food, and the movement to at least label foods containing GMOs has gone mainstream, transcending political borders. You’re just as likely to see calls to action from the right as you are from the left these days. But now we’re seeing what appears to be a concerted backlash.

I say “concerted” because the talking points are repeated, almost verbatim, in one online post after another. Those who oppose GMOs are compared to climate change deniers. They are accused of having irrational fears that are not based in science. The argument is made that we’ve been genetically modifying organisms since the advent of farming and this is no different. In March, the Guardian ran an article by 2 former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with the heading: “The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook. Climate change is real and GM technology is safe, but those in denial want to undermine the public understanding of science with misinformation and pseudo-debate”. And when Chipotle restaurant recently announced that they will no longer knowingly serve GMO food, New York Magazine responded with an article titled “Chipotle Is Promoting Opportunistic Anti-Science Hysteria”.
Even Bill Nye the so-called “Science Guy” changed his position on GMOs earlier this year –following a visit to Monsanto. In March, backstage at the Bill Maher show, Bill Nye said “I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!” – though he offered no details about what he learned that changed his mind.

GMO crops are being promoted as the answer to world hunger and a way to reduce pesticide use by supporters as well as the mega corporations that own the technology.
So what IS the science behind the opposition to GMOs? Or is it all an emotional response to the unknown? And does there need to be a proven risk before these products are labeled? We pose those questions to our guests, then open the phone lines and invite listeners to join the discussion.

Nancy Oden is a long time antiGMO – she attended the first GMO int’l symposium many years ago, and has been working on the issue since that time thru grassroots organizing as well as working with the legislature;
Heather Spaulding is Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Association’s Deputy Director. (

Credit: An excerpt was used from a HuffPost Live interview with Bill Nye

WERU News Report 5/6/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

“Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to food and to acquire food for that individual’s own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual’s own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed” — that’s the language in a proposed amendment to Maine’s Constitution that’s currently being considered by the legislature. Today on the WERU News Report we’ll discuss that proposal and other food sovereignty initiatives with guests Betsy Garrold of Food for Maine’s Future and Bonnie Preston of the Alliance for Democracy. We talk with them first, then open the phone lines and invite listeners to join the discussion.

Betsy Garrold is President of the Board of Directors of Food for Maine’s Future, which is an organization that was formed eight years ago with the merger of GE Free Maine and the Independent Food Project. She is a lobbyist in Augusta for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. She homesteads in Knox just a few minutes from the MOFGA Common Ground Education Center.

Bonnie Preston is a retired librarian who is on the National Council of the Alliance for Democracy, a group which seeks an end to corporate rule through systemic changes, including strengthening community control through local ordinances. She has spent the last five years working with Heather Retberg (another resident of this area) promoting the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, which has passed in 13 towns so far and has been chosen as a major campaign for Alliance for Democracy.

WERU News Report 4/29/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

“2015 is truly a booming co-op year”, according to Jessica Pooley of the Cooperative Development Institute, a group whose mission is “to build a cooperative economy through the creation and development of successful cooperative enterprises and networks in diverse communities” in the Northeast. On this edition of the WERU News Report Jessica Pooley and 2 of her colleagues at CDI- Rob Brown and Jonah Fertig — are joining us to talk about projects they are working on, ranging from resident-owned housing to worker-owned businesses, as well as the recently introduced LD1300 “An Act To Create and Sustain Jobs through Development of Cooperatives” If you’ve ever wonder if your business or residential community could become a coop, these are the experts who can answer your questions.

Jessica Pooley is the Housing Program Organizer under CDI’s New England Resident Owned Communites (“NEROC”) Program in Maine.
Rob Brown is the Director of CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) program, which works with business owners to help them consider whether conversion to a co-op would meet their needs, and with employees and community members to facilitate conversions to worker and/or community-owned cooperatives.
Jonah Fertig is a cooperative developer with CDI in their rural cooperative services program.

WERU News Report 4/22/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

This month the Maine legislature’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee is considering at least 9 different pieces of proposed legislation dealing with guns. The one generating the most controversy is the concealed carry bill – which supporters call “constitutional carry” – that would eliminate the required permit for carrying a concealed gun. We review some of the pending legislation and discuss the question “what does sensible gun policy mean to you?” with guests Mary Anne Royal, Coordinator, Northern Maine Chapter, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence; Beth Allen, State Coordinator for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense; and Joe Porada, local gun owner and long time WERU volunteer. Hillary Lister of Maine Matters, a Research, Consulting, and Government Relations business joins us by phone to talk about the impact some of the legislation may have on medical marijuana patients, and we open the phone lines for listener calls.