Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bad Presumpscot Deal is Dead


One year ago this week, the world was told about a "win-win" settlement between South African Pulp & Paper (SAPPI), the State of Maine, Friends of the Presumpscot River and American Rivers, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife & Service that would "restore" the Presumpscot River.

The reality was not so pleasant as the corporate press releases would have you believe.

What actually happened one year ago is that a multi-billion dollar corporation, SAPPI Inc., announced that it would obey a state fishway law at its non-hydro Presumpscot River dam at Cumberland Mills in Westbrook, Maine if and only if SAPPI was allowed to violate the U.S. Clean Water Act at its five Presumpscot River hydro-electric dams for the next 50 years.

That's right. The State of Maine, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and America's foremost river protection group, American Rivers, and its local partner, Friends of the Presumpscot River, agreed to allow a huge corporation to violate the U.S. Clean Water Act on the Presumpscot River for the next 50 years.

SAPPI's dams violate the U.S. Clean Water Act by impounding and destroying most of the Presumpscot River, making it unlivable for its native Atlantic salmon, and cutting the river off from its source, Sebago Lake.

SAPPI's dams destroy, block and sever the finest Atlantic salmon habitat in the United States: the Sebago, Presumpscot and Crooked River Atlantic salmon watershed.

SAPPI's dams are the only reason the Presumpscot River above Westbrook is now virtually dead to its native fish life.

SAPPI's dams are the only reason Atlantic salmon do not swim from Casco Bay to Sebago Lake each spring, as they have done for the past 10,000 years.

The fake restoration deal is now dead.

SAPPI has apparently decided the cost of removing the Cumberland Mills Dam is not worth millions of dollars in federal license givebacks offered by the State of Maine, Friends of the Presumpscot River and American Rivers.

SAPPI's decision seems to make no sense because the cost of complying with Maine's fishway law at the Cumberland Mills Dam will cost as much -- or more -- as removing the dam.

Prior to last July, SAPPI repeatedly told the world that building a fishway at its minuscule Cumberland Mills Dam would put its Westbrook paper mill out of business.

Then, last year, SAPPI abruptly announced that it was willing to spend the same amount of money as a fishway to remove the entire dam.

Suddenly, a mill-killing expense became a mill-saving opportunity !!!

Now, a year later, not so much.

To prevent yourself from getting any more whiplash, here is what appears to be the situation:

1. Before July 2007, SAPPI said spending several million dollars to build a fishway at its Cumberland Mills Dam would put its Westbrook mill out of business.

2. After July 2007, SAPPI said removing the Cumberland Mills Dam would keep its Westbrook mill in business, even though removing the dam would cost as much or more than the cost of building the fishway it said would put its Westbrook mill out of business.

3. Today, in July 2008, SAPPI says that everything it has previously said on this topic during the past two years is balderdash and should not be believed.

We agree.

1 comment:

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