Things do not look good for Nordic Aquafarms at present but this is no time to let up on the pressure. For the last 4+ years, every one of you has been there for us when we needed you and without your enthusiastic support we think we would be looking at a very different scenario. Upstream is fully committed to pursuing every legal opportunity available to us until Nordic is gone for good, and we can focus on protecting and restoring the Belfast and Penobscot Bay, the Little River ecosystem, and all the other rivers that feed the Bay.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who joined us at The Hoot in Northport last month. It was great to see so many familiar faces and many new ones. As we all know, the pandemic has made it difficult for us to gather as we used to. Those weekly meetings at the farm seem like a million years ago! We did our best to make a decent recording for those of you who couldn’t join us but unfortunately the traffic noise from Rt. 1 wasn’t our friend.
We are very grateful for the generous support everyone has given to this effort. As you may recall we announced a fundraising goal of $50,000 before the end of the year. We’re happy to announce that many of you have stepped up to help us meet that goal, but we have still have a ways to go! Please contribute if you can. And, please remember your “home work assignment” to share with others the truth about Nordic’s impact on the bay, the climate, our community and beyond. All the flyers are now on the website. www.upstreamwatch.org. We also have a Twitter account now @wildfishfirst. Please visit it and tell your friends!
Below I’ve given a quick summary of where we stand, and I encourage anyone who has questions to contact us. We love to hear from you! Below is a summary of where we stand.
On September 8, the Maine Law Court will hear our oral arguments concerning the Title, Right and Interest case and ownership of the intertidal land. David Perkins of Curtis Thaxter will be arguing on behalf of Upstream Watch and Kim Tucker will provide argument for Jeffrey Mabee PO Box 113 Belfast Maine 04915 www.upstreamwatch.org and Judith Grace. While these oral arguments are important, the lion's share of the work has been done already through the briefing process that has occurred over the last 4 or 5 months. David Perkins and our surveyor Don Richards have a long history of working together on matters of Maine real estate law and, more specifically, coastal real estate law. Dave’s brief incorporated all of the wonderful work that Don Richards did for us over the last 4 years and Dave Perkins!"oral arguments will provide the perfect capstone to an enormous amount of work. David Perkins has argued in front of the Maine Law Court on 7 occasions and has lost only once. That is an impressive record and we are beyond fortunate to have him representing Upstream on this issue. There is an opportunity to livestream the proceedings on the 8th. We will be sending out the proper links and logins for those of you who would like to watch.
After the Law Court hears our arguments, they will come back with a decision when they are ready. They may issue a final decision on who owns the intertidal land or they may remand the case back down to Waldo County Superior Court for Justice Murray to fix his mistakes. In either event, it’s going to be awhile before we have a final decision.
On September 14, Nordic and the office of the Attorney General will file their replies to our appeal of the decision by the Board of Environmental Protection to grant Nordic their permits. Upstream will then have 21 days for our rebuttal. We are eagerly awaiting their reply as we believe there is little that they can say in defense of their decision. Once all the briefing is done we will be waiting for oral arguments to be scheduled in front of the Law Court. We expect that could come in early winter 2023.
Lurking in the wings is our appeal of the Belfast Planning Board. We filed that appeal in May of 2021 in Waldo County Superior Court and there it sits. Sometime this past winter, the attorney for Nordic filed a motion that basically said “Can’t you hurry this along?” and received no response. It’s anyone’s guess when we might see that appeal in front of the judge.
Lastly, the topic on everyone’s minds this past month is the sudden unexplained departure of Nordic’s founder and president, Erik Heim along with Nordic’s second in command, Heim’s wife, Marianne Naess. Jackie Cassida and Ed Cotter were asked about it at our event at The Hoot and they offered no explanation.
Here’s what we do know. Nordic Aquafarm’s facilities in Denmark and Norway have continued to lose millions of dollars every year and 2021 was the worst showing yet. Their only salmon production facility (in Norway) has given up on raising salmon and is trying to switch to raising kingfish. The 2021 financial statement for Nordic Aquafarms Group AS was just released this past week and one of the consultants who reviewed it said “If they were my client, they would be paying our monthly fee in advance of services rendered.”
We also know that there is not enough transmission capacity in the Mid-Coast grid to provide Nordic with the power they would need even at their so-called “phase 1”. Allowing Nordic to connect to the grid before the $63 million dollar rate payer funded upgrade, is completed will immediately put all CMP customers in the Mid-Coast area at a high risk of frequent and prolonged outages. (Please see attachments concerning Nordic’s power needs.) As you may recall, Nordic needs as much power as Belfast, Northport, Lincolnville, Camden, Rockport and Rockland combined for their daily peek power demand. Even without their power demand, Nordic’s carbon footprint is enormous. With it, their footprint is nothing less than scandalous at this point in the climate crisis.
In addition to sharing information about Nordic’s impacts, writing your local, state and federal representatives with your concerns would be very helpful. Please let us know if you need assistance in doing this.
We know that Nordic has numerous and difficult conditions they must meet before they can begin construction. One of those conditions concerns the impacts they would have on private well owners in Northport and Belfast. There is no indication from DEP that Nordic is even close to satisfying that condition. Due to the severe drought the coast is currently experiencing, it’s unlikely Nordic can get there anytime soon.
Thank you again for all of your support, and for standing up for clean water and clean air, the Little River ecosystem, and our local fishing community. When you are considering your plans for year-end giving, we hope that you will think of Upstream and remember the work we have done and continue to do to protect this special place on Penobscot Bay.
Thank you all,