The Maine Green Independent Party supports the Penobscot Nation’s effort to protect the Penobscot River waterways as their recognized territory, and condemns the ruling handed down by U.S. District Court Judge George Singal on Dec. 17. After hearing arguments in the Penobscot Nation v. (Attorney General) Janet Mills case, Singal ruled that the Penobscot territory included only the islands and not the ancestral waterways of the Penobscot River.
In past years, complex legal battles have erupted over the Penobscot River waterway. In August 2012, the Penobscot Nation received a letter from the Maine attorney general’s office, asserting a new opinion that the Penobscot Nation territory, which consists of over 200 islands in the Penobscot River, did not include any portion of the river’s water. This new opinion from the attorney general is contrary to a previous opinion made by Attorney General James Tierney in 1988, which recognized that the Penobscot Nation territory included the river.
Another factor in the Penobscot Nation v. Janet Mills case is that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is in conflict with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act protections over the river.
The Penobscot River is facing industrial threats such as a proposed 74-acre expansion at Juniper Ridge Landfill, a state-owned solid waste disposal site located in Old Town between Pushaw and Birch streams, two major tributaries to the Penobscot River. The landfill is operated by New England Waste Services of Maine, LLC, a subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems. The company’s expansion plans include using 54 acres for waste disposal and 20 acres for a methane industrial gas facility in a sensitive wetland ecosystem. More than two acres of wetlands would have to be filled in order to accommodate the expansion.
“The Penobscot Nation has always been a strong steward of its ancestral river, as evidenced in historical petitions and pleas, and illustrated most recently in the precedent-setting Penobscot River Restoration Project,” Patricia Jackson, co-chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party. “This project is an extraordinary, collaborative effort that is restoring the ecological integrity of the Penobscot River through dam removal.