Archives for Penobscot Nation

RadioActive 7/31/14

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: The Penobscot Nation’s Proposed Water Quality Standards: Fairpoint Workers Speak Out on Contract Problems and Preparation for Strike

Key Discussion Points:
a) We speak with the Penobscot Nation’s director of natural resources, John Banks, prior to the tribe’s public hearing on it’s newly proposed Surface Water Quality Standards.The tribe wishes to strengthen current standards for the waters within Penobscot tribal territories, most specifically to address the health of fish consumed by tribal members. Following public input, the Penobscot Nation will present their standards to the US Environmental Protection Agency for approval, as allowed under the federal Clean Water Act for federally recognized tribes.
b) Earlier this month, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine Dept of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Patrica Aho, filed suit against the US EPA in attempts to establish jurisdiction. The Penobsacot Nation also currently has a case against the Maine Attorney General’s Office to likewise establish he definition of tribal waters and the tribe’s sovereign right to control water quality.
c) We also hear from two unionized Fairpoint workers who are poised to strike against the company when their contract expires this Sunday. At issue are healthcare benefits, pensions, retiree healthcare and Fairpoint’s desire to increase the subcontracting out work currently done by unionized workers.


A) John Banks, Penobscot Nation Director of Natural Resources, member of Penobscot Nation
B) John Curtis, Community Union of Ellsworth
C) Lyn Grandmont, Fairpoint customer service technician, member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 2327
D) Todd Foster, Fairpoint splice service technician, member IBEW local 2327

WERU News Report 7/8/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

In what many believe to be the latest threat to the Penobscot Nation and the river ecosystem, a new landfill is being proposed in the Greenbush/Argyle area. The organization behind the plan is the Municipal Review Committee or “MRC”, which represents nearly 200 Maine municipalities that have their solid waste delivered to the PERC waste-to-energy facility in Orrington. Supporters cite a 2013 report that indicated that Maine would run out of landfill space in 11 years, and an impending fee increase at the PERC plant as evidence of need for a new landfill.

The new dump would be located only a few miles from the controversial Juniper Ridge landfill. It would also be in close proximity to Indian Island, Birch Stream and Sunkhaze Meadows Wildlife Refuge, near an aquifer and in an area known for landslides. The location is also adjacent to what is believed to be the route the proposed East-West Corridor would take through the area.

Last week, the Maine Dept of Environmental Protection held a public meeting in Old Town, one step in the process of determining whether the dump would meet the “public benefit” criteria required for issuing a permit.

For several hours the public spoke Here’s what some of them had to say. DEP Commissioner Patrica Aho facilitated:

WERU News Report 2/5/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Protests were held in communities across the country Monday- including Belfast, Bangor and Portland, in reaction to a report issued by the state department last Friday, that gives a green light to the Keystone XL pipeline. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement downplayed concerns about the impact of the pipeline, designed to bring Alberta tar sands oil from Canada across the US.

Speakers on a tour through New England in recent weeks have a different view of the environmental and human impacts. The “Tar Sands Exposed: Exploring the Human and Environmental Costs” tour made a stop at the University of Maine last weekend, sponsored by 350 Maine. WERU’s John Greenman recorded the event, and this week we’re bringing you 2 of the speakers on the WERU News Report. Yesterday we heard from Eriel Deranger- of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Today’s speaker is Sherri Mitchell – Indigenous Rights attorney and Director of the Land Peace Foundation.

RadioActive 11/7/13

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Penobscot Nation Natural Resources director on the work to protect the health of the Penobscot River Watershed

Key Discussion Points:

a) Today we hear a talk by John Banks, a member of the Penobscot Nation and the Natural Resources Director for the tribe. He has been an active and tireless advocate for environmental sustainability and tribal rights.
b) In his talk, he outlines the Penobscot Nation’s work to protect the health of the Penobscot River Watershed from the impacts of paper mill dioxin, to the work of the Penobscot River Restoration Project to dismantle dams, allowing for the expansion of fish species into original habitats, to legal issues on state vs federal control over pollution permits, with explicit industry pressure, and now the tribes current court case to oppose the 2012 state Attorney General’s opinion that the Penobscot Reservation does not include any of the Penobscot River.

c) John Banks spoke at the University of Maine’s 10th annual Eco-Peace Sustainability Training and International Affiliates Conference on October 25th in Belfast. This years Conference was titled “Reclaiming the Commons : Water Ethics and Nature Rights in Maine”. We spoke with organizer Hugh Curran on RadioActive October 10th, 2013.


A) John Banks, Natural Resources Director for the Penobscot Nation; Penobscot tribal member

WERU News Report 7/23/13

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Today we take you to the banks of the Penobscot River, where hundreds of people gathered yesterday, and planes flew overhead, bearing witness to the historic removal of the Veazie Dam. There has been a dam of one sort or another in that location for roughly 200 years, and the removal – which is expected to take several months to complete – will restore access to fish species that have been unable to navigate up the river,


Wabanaki Windows 8/21/12

Producer/Host: Donna Loring
Studio Engineer: Amy Browne

Program Topic: Duties of a Tribal Chief/ Contemporary issues of the Penobscot Nation

Key Discussion Points:
a) Chief’s oath of office
b) Past challenges
c) Penobscot Nation’s future

Guest: Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation

Call In Program: No

WERU News Report 6/19/12

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Program Topics: Segment 1: Environmentalists Issue New Report on Tar Sands Pipeline in Maine; Segment 2: Penobscot Nation Receives Maine Initiatives Award

Key Discussion Points:
a) Portland-Montreal pipeline
b) Tar sands
c) Penobscot Nation


Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy & Global Warming Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine (

Recorded audio from Maine Initiatives Awards, featuring John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis and Natural Resources Director John Banks (,
(Audio recorded by: Matt Murphy)
Call In Program: no

WERU Special: Great Works Dam Removal 6/15/12

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Program Topic: We take you to the banks of the Penobscot River in Bradley on Monday morning, where removal of the 200 year old Great Works Dam was about to get underway. You’ll hear the Penobscot Nation Chief, Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and others, explaining the significance of the Penobscot River Restoration project.

Key Discussion Points:
a) Background on the dam removal
b) Reasons for removing the dam
c) Next steps in the Penobscot River Restoration Project

Call In Program: No