Archives for Penobscot River

WERU News Report 6/17/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

The latest chapter in a story we’ve been reporting on for nearly 15 years played out in Federal Court today, as lawyers for both sides in the Penobscot River mercury pollution case (Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council vs. Mallinckrodt Inc.) made their closing arguments. We start today with a press conference held outside the Federal Building held by the Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council—the 2 groups that successfully sued the huge corporation responsible for the major mercury pollution many years ago and are now trying to get them to stop delaying and start cleaning it up. We also have notes from the final arguments, and make the connection with the mercury in the bay and proposed dredging project by re-airing an August 2014 interview with Dr. Kevin Yeager, one of the court-appointed independent scientist who worked on the Holtrachem/Mallinckrodt mercury case and was later hired by parties concerned about the dredging project to take a look at the testing methods used by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Bangor Area Commons 6/4/15

Producer/Editor/Host: Amy Browne
Audio recorded by: John Greenman

In 2012, Maine’s attorney general informed the Penobscot Nation that the state had decided that the Penobscot reservation didn’t actually include any of the water surrounding their islands—that they had no rights to their namesake river—contrary to historic agreements. The tribe responded with a lawsuit asserting their rights, now known as “Penobscot Nation vs Mills”. Since that time, several towns have signed on as intervenors, essentially taking the side of the state against the Penobscot Nation. Orono was among them until town residents learned about what was happening and pressured the town to withdraw. Now the Penobscot Nation is hoping that more towns will do the same if they know more about what is happening and what the stakes are.
On April 30th, Maria Girouard of the Penobscot Nation — a frequent guest on WERU’s “Wabanaki Windows”—was a guest speaker at the Bucksport Town Council meeting. Bucksport is one of the towns along the river that have signed on as intervenors, but it became clear at the meeting that the council was very open to learning more. John Greenman attended and recorded the meeting, and we bring you there today. One more note before we get started, about a name you’ll hear mentioned a few times. Matt Manahan is an attorney for Pierce Atwood, the law firm representing the interveners. He’s also the author of an August 2012 article in the Bangor Daily News in which he said the Penobscot Nation had “endless Federal resources” and warned readers of dire consequences should they win their lawsuit, including: “What does it mean for you if the Penobscots prevail? They will regulate your hunting, trapping and fishing on the river. They will regulate municipal and other discharges into the river and some of its branches and tributaries, even though such discharges are already carefully controlled by the state and federal governments. If you live in a town that borders the river and thought your town ran to the middle of the river in accordance with Maine law — surprise! If you paddle, fish or otherwise use the Penobscot River in any way, you will now confront a new regulator telling you what you can or can’t do and how much it will cost you to do it. And, unlike state regulators, the Penobscots won’t even be obligated to listen to your concerns about the impact of their regulations; you will have no control or influence over those regulations. The Penobscots have even announced they intend to close the river to trapping and require a permit to access the river for any reason, making it their exclusive domain.” Manahan’s article concluded “There’s no question the history of the treatment of Indians in this country includes tragic episodes of overwhelming resources used to renege on commitments previously made. It’s ironic the same scenario is happening again, with roles reversed.” (
As you’ll hear, Maria Giroaurd and others strongly disagree with his portrayal

RadioActive 3/26/15

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Orono Council Committee Votes to Withdraw from Penobscot Nation v Mills

Key Discussion Points:

a) On March 16th, the Orono Town Council’s Community Development Committee, which contains all members of the council, voted unanimously to instruct the town manager to draw up an order to formally withdraw Orono from Penobscot Nation v Mills. This case concerns the
Penobscot Nation’s jurisdiction to monitor their sustenance fishing waters, a status without issue until August 8th, 2012, when then Attorney General Schneider wrote a letter to the Penobscot Nation declaring that “the State of Maine has exclusive regulatory jurisdiction over activities taking place on the River.” The Penobscot Nation is now suing the state in Federal Curt

b) The state of Maine’s attorney, Matt Manahan from law firm Pierce Atwood, joined a consortium of 18 towns and corporations to the case, as intervenors for the state. These 18 are waste water dischargers on the river, though the case is not about pollution discharges, and many of these entities would not be effected if it were.

c) A movement opposing Orono’s involvement developed when town residents were surprised to discover Orono’s involvement. Inquires showed none of Orono’s town councilors knew of the town’s involvement either.

Today we listen to both councilors and the public at the Orono Town Council’s public meeting on March 16th.

We also hear reactions from Orono organizer and resident Cheryl Robertson.

*Note: On April 1st Orono formerly files to withdraw from Penobscot Nation v Mills.


A) Orono Town Council members (Mark Haggerty,Geoffrey Gordon, Tom Perry, Tom Sptiz, Sam Kunz) and Orono Town Manager Sophie Wilson

B) public testimony : Claudia Lawd, Eric Maynard,Maria Girouard, Kathy Pollard, Nancy Prisk, John Banks

C) Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz

D)Cheryl Roberston, Orono resident

RadioActive 3/12/15

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Penobscot Nation v Mills, with Chief Francis and Local Organizing to Withdraw Orono from the Case

Key Discussion Points:

a) Despite years of cooperation and co-management with the state, and explicit direction from past administrations that the Penobscot Nation does have jurisdiction when it comes to monitoring their sustenance fishing waters, in 2012, the state began action to disassociate the water flowing through the Penobscot Nation from tribal control. On August 8th, 2012, the Attorney General William Schneider wrote a letter to the Penobscot Nation declaring that “the State of Maine has exclusive regulatory jurisdiction over activities taking place on the River.”
b) In response, the Penobscot Nation is suing the Attorney General’s Office (now occupied by Janet Mills) in federal court, in Penobscot Nation v Mills, et al. The attorney representing the state, Matt Manahan from law firm Pierce Atwood, has gone on the public relations offensive, and has additionally signed 18 towns and corporations to the case as intervenors for the state.
c) These 18 are waste water dischargers on the river, though the case is not about pollution discharges, and many of these entities are down stream from the Penobscot Nation. One of these towns is Orono. We hear from Orono resident Cheryl Robertson about efforts there to withdraw the town from the lawsuit.

The Orono Town Council will hold a public meeting on the issue at 5:30pm on Monday, March 16th.

Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation,
Cheryl Roberston, Orono resident

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 6/3/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council went back to court today in their years-long battle to force the corporations responsible for the mercury contamination in the Penobscot River to clean it up, using the best methods available. We join them at a press conference outside the courthouse

Segment 2: Attorney Kim Tucker has sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, outlining new information that she says warrants putting the Searsport dredge and dump plan on hold and re-opening the public comment period. She explains why.

WERU News Report 5/14/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: The Natural Resources Council of Maine announced yesterday that they have developed a series of maps that depict the effects of rising sea levels on the Maine coast, as well as a list of the top 20 Maine towns affected by sea level rise due to climate change. We get the details from Dylan Voorhees, NRCM’s Clean Energy and Global Warming Project Director.

Segment 2: For our Penobscot river and bay report this week, we’re checking in with Ron Huber, director of “Friends of Penobscot Bay”. We reported last week that NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has announced that the Penobscot River is one of two sites in the North Atlantic region that they are designating as Habitat Focus Areas, which will direct more resources to restoration of the river. NOAA has been involved in the removal of 2 major dams on the river, and is looking at removing some of the smaller ones. Huber see this as positive news for the river and bay:

Segment 3: We meet the new Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine, Alison Beyea

WERU News Report 5/7/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: What happens when you cross Governor LePage with the Koch Brothers? Child safety advocates say that question was answered yesterday as Maine’s Department of Environmental Protect (DEP) blocked plans to add formaldehyde to the priority list under the Kid-Safe Products Act. Mike Belliveau of “Prevent Harm” explains

Segment 2: The Maine-based Hurricane Island Outward Bound Program is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. And while you’ve most likely heard of the program, you might be surprised to hear how it started. Executive Director, Eric Denny joined us to talk about the program, their history, and how they plan to celebrate this year

Segment 3: NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced this week that the Penobscot River is one of two sites in the North Atlantic region that they are designating as Habitat Focus Areas. We spoke with NOAA spokesperson Maggie Mooney-Seus to find out what that means

Segment 3: