Oral testimony on the Draft SEIS for the Proposed Sears Island Terminal August 12, 1995
Submitted by Ron Huber for the Coastal Waters Project at the August 12 COE/FDHWY public hearing at the National Guard Armory, Belfast ME.
August 12, 1995
We are here today to judge this Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on its merits. Does it accurately describe the natural and human environments that will be affected by the project? and Does it accurately explain what effect building and operating the port will have on the natural and human environment, both short and long term?
The short answer to both questions is : No.
Only yesterday, the MDOT publicly admitted that the geographical extent of the sourcing area for cargoes and the proposed impacts to the terminal area, are significantly larger than discussed in the draft SEIS. The intensity of the secondary and cumulative impacts to the resources of upper Penobscot Bay, and the areas will be far greater in scope than are described in the Draft SEIS. This means that the draft SEIS is inadequate to its task. The description within it of the affected environment and the desciption of the alternatives analyses and impact analyses in the SEIS do not reflect the actual business and operating plan.
Even before the surprise admission by the King Administration of additional impacts, the draft SEIS was inadequate. The MDOT argues in this document time and again that high volume woodchip export is an indispensable and necessary design consideration for all Alternatives.
The SEIS should therefore include information regarding the project's secondary and cumulative impacts on the living resources that inhabit the reasonably anticipated woodchip sourcing area of the proposed terminal. These include commercially and recreationally exploited species as well as threatened and endangered species. This information gap is unreasonable and causes the draft SEIS to be unacceptable under the NEPA guidelines..
The previously anticipated sourcing area for woodchips to export takes up a good portion of 9 Maine counties. This area need to be fully examined, so that an accurate analysis of the impacts of the prposed action can be prepared. This is doubly true following the new admission by the King administration of greatly expanded rail activity serving the port, as it would make woodchip export from the hinterlands cost effective.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service needs to be consulted pursuant to Section 7 of the federal endangered species act to determine whether four federally listed endangered species and one federally listed th reatened species, as well as nine species that are candidates for listing as threatened or endangered species that live within the woodchip sourcing area, would be significantly impacted.
MARINE RESOURCES The impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed port and of industrial development in the vicinity of the port on living resources that use the waters of the Upper Penobscot Bay as spawning, nursery and foraging grounds likewise need to be fully examined.
Ten commercially managed fish species are found in their juvenile form in the vicinity of Sears Island. Seven of them are officially overexploited, or in decline: Atlantic cod, haddock, American dab, sand dab, winter flounder, gray sole and wolf fish. Three are considered to be fully exploited or in danger of decline: American pollock, white hake and whiting.
The SEIS does not address the secondary and cumulative impacts of constructing and operating this port on the reproduction of these already hardpressed species and their essential prey. Nor does it address the project's secondary impacts on lobstering, through reducing and degrading herring and other baitfish nursery areas in upper Penobscot Bay.
Under the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, and the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission, is necessary to determine, whether the foreseeable secondary and cumulative impacts of the proposed project on commercial fisheries abundance will require commercial fishery management changes .
Because the SEIS does not come close to describing the reasonably anticipated secondary and longterm effects this port could have on the Maine Woods, Penobscot Bay, the western Gulf of Maine and on their human and wildlife inhabitants, we are asking the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration to find in their Records of Decision that there will be significant environmental and economic impacts stemming from all the designated alternatives, and to find that the listed mitigation alternatives are also inadequate to the scope of degradation.
We are asking that, based on these findings of significant impacts, the United States Army Corps of Engineers deny the state their Clean Water Act permit request at this time, and require production of a new additional supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to examine these impacts. If the Corps of Engineers grants MDOT their CWA 404 permit, we are requesting that EPA exercise its authority and veto the project.