Wednesday, July 07, 2010

EARTH FIRST! TAKES ON WIND POWER IN MAINE

Four Earth First! protesters were arrested yesterday after they temporarily stopped a semi-truck carrying a 140-foot wind turbine blade to the Kibby Wind Power Project. One of those arrested ran under the truck and locked herself to the trailer’s steel supports. A group of about 50 people who had been attending the national Earth First! summer meeting at a camp in Coplin Plantation, began assembling at 5 a.m. at the entrance to the Gold Brook.

The meeting itslef was branded by many as a terrorist gathering. Harriet Powers, who attended the meeting, told the Sun Journal she blames police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for riling people up about Earth First!.


“It looks to me like the sheriffs and the cops want to start something, and I guess that the FBI is the one that we found out started everything in town, telling everybody they were terrorists and everything,” she said.


The following is from the Irregular.

EARTH FIRST! PROTESTS KIBBY WIND POWER.

David Hart
Willow Amanda Cordez-Eklund of Minnesota sits beneath a turbine blade transport vehicle around 1 p.m. with her neck locked to the trailer's steel frame. The protest action stopped traffic for nearly 45 minutes. (David Hart photo)Willow Amanda Cordez-Eklund of Minnesota sits beneath a turbine blade transport vehicle around 1 p.m. with her neck locked to the trailer's steel frame. The protest action stopped traffic for nearly 45 minutes. (David Hart photo)COBURN GORE -- Nearly 60 Earth First! environmental activists came out early Tuesday morning and arranged themselves along the Gold Brook Road off Route 27 near the Canadian border to protest the Kibby Wind Power development. Four of the activists were arrested and sent to the Franklin County Detention Center.
Wind developer TransCanada has begun its second phase of approved development, the delivery and installation of the second 22 turbines in its 44-turbine, 132-megawatt project begun last year.
The action was staged during the delivery of turbine parts and just before the Land Use Regulation Commission’s meeting today, July 7 when it will consider TransCanada's proposal to install 15 more turbines on neighboring Sisk Mountain.
The planned protest came on the heels of the national Earth First Round River Rendezvous, hosted this year by Maine Earth First. The weeklong campout was held along the South Branch of the Dead River on land owned by Basil and Harriett Powers.
Maine State Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Border Patrol were present before the 5 a.m. gathering and called the protest for the most part, peaceful.A stand-off between police and Earth First protesters along Route 27 at the Gold Brook entrance to the Kibby Wind Power project. (David Hart photo)A stand-off between police and Earth First protesters along Route 27 at the Gold Brook entrance to the Kibby Wind Power project. (David Hart photo)
Several activists were escorted off land owned by Plumb Creek and issued warnings for trespassing in the early morning hours. Others were moved off the access road to the shoulder along Route 27 after a lockdown or blockade was broken up.
After 11 a.m. police warned the protesters that they needed to stand on one side of the road and gave them a specific time frame in which to relocate.
Earth First activist Courtney-Ann Boucher, 25, of Pine River, Minn., was the only member who did not obey and was the first activist to be placed in handcuffs that day.
The event wound down at the wind project access road, but not before a similar rally took place a couple of miles south at the Sarampus Falls rest area.
A truck carrying a 150-foot, five-ton turbine blade was temporarily stopped. Two activists jumped on the truck telling the driver to remain stopped and turn off his engine.
The pair, Ana Isabel Rodriguez, 29, of Lake Worth, Fla. and Erik Gillard of Keene, N.H., were taken into custody.
While the truck was stopped, Willow Amanda Cordez-Eklund, 26, of Minneapolis put a U-shaped bicycle lock around her neck and locked it to the underside frame of the transport vehicle in an effort to keep the wind power equipment from being delivered to the nearby Kibby project. This action convinced the trucker to turn off his engine.
Cordez-Eklund remained beneath the truck for nearly a half hour while police scrambled to find bolt cutters. Traffic was stopped along Route 27 as this took place. Cordez-Eklund was asked to leave the scene voluntarily, but refused and was arrested once she was cut free from the steel frame.
Courtney-Ann Boucher, 25, of Pine River, Minn., is arrested for refusing to listen to police officers who asked Earth First! protesters to disperse to the other side of the road for safety reasons. Earth First! activists staged a protest of the Kibby Wind Power project Tuesday; four members were arrested. (David Hart photo)Courtney-Ann Boucher, 25, of Pine River, Minn., is arrested for refusing to listen to police officers who asked Earth First! protesters to disperse to the other side of the road for safety reasons. Earth First! activists staged a protest of the Kibby Wind Power project Tuesday; four members were arrested. (David Hart photo)Protesters then moved to the detention center in Farmington to rally for their fellow members being held in custody. The four were arrested on charges of “failure to disperse” and held on $500 bail.
“In the face of the Gulf oil disaster, and massively destructive coal mining, we recognize the value of developing alternative energy systems,” said Meg Gilmartin of Maine Earth First, in a prepared statement. “But these projects are a perfect example of how corporations and investors are taking advantage of the climate and energy crises to make profits while avoiding accountability. We don’t view projects on this industrial scale as being the solution to our problems.”
“If we really want to look at how the north woods can mitigate climate change, we should restore our forest and protect sensitive ecosystems, like those on Sisk and Kibby mountains,” said Ryan Clark of Maine Earth First. “These unique high altitude areas are breeding grounds for the endangered Bicknell Thrush, nesting sites for the federally protected Golden Eagle and critical habitat for endangered Canadian Lynx.”
The project is also being protested for moving forward without public hearings, the group explained.A truck containing wind turbine parts rolls into the Kibby Wind Power project location as the Earth First! protest begins to disperse Tuesday, July 6. The police formed a shoulder-to-shoulder blockade to keep activists from stopping this truck. (David Hart photo)A truck containing wind turbine parts rolls into the Kibby Wind Power project location as the Earth First! protest begins to disperse Tuesday, July 6. The police formed a shoulder-to-shoulder blockade to keep activists from stopping this truck. (David Hart photo)
According to a press release, Maine Earth First is the local component of the national environmental group Earth First, a network of activists that focuses on grassroots organizing and direct actions in defense of the earth’s natural systems, and maintains a no-compromise stance.

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