Department of the Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Joan Moody
|For Immediate Release: June 25, 2004||202-208-6416|
SECRETARY NORTON, GOVERNOR BALDACCI, OTHER LEADERS SIGN HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT FOR PENOBSCOT RIVER
VEAZIE DAM, MAINE - Overlooking the Veazie Dam on the banks of the Penobscot River, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today joined Maine Gov. John Baldacci and other leaders of an historic Maine partnership in signing a "milestone" agreement that will remove two dams on the Penobscot River to restore fisheries while maintaining hydropower production.
"Your partnership is your biggest historical accomplishment. The Penobscot Model is a partnership model for the 21st century of how environmental protection, energy production and economic opportunities can go hand-in-hand when we all communicate and work together," Norton said in commending Gov. Baldacci and other Maine officials; PPL Corporation, represented by Vice President Dennis Murphy; the Penobscot Nation, represented by Chief Barry Dana; and Penobscot Partners, a coalition of conservation and Indian groups represented by director Laura Day.
"Today, thanks to you, it seems perfectly plausible that executives of a power company that owns dams on the river, environmentalists and sportsmen who have tried to get the dams torn down, the governor of Maine, representatives of state and federal agencies responsible for the fish in the river, and members of a Native American tribe that has fished the river for 10,000 years-are all working together," said Norton.
Under the agreement the Veazie and Great Works dams will be removed. The Penobscot River Restoration Trust, a newly formed nonprofit, will seek the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decommission a third dam, Howland, and construct a state-of-the-art fish bypass around it. If feasible, this arrangement will maintain the Howland impoundment.
The Penobscot River Restoration Trust will pay PPL Corporation $25 million for the dams. PPL in turn will increase power generation on six other dams on the Penobscot and its tributaries.
In addition to the signing ceremony, the final agreement was filed today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to guide the sale of the three dams and the regulatory filings required for completion of this project.
The agreements include signers from PPL Corporation; the U.S. Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Park Service; four State of Maine natural resource agencies; Penobscot Indian Nation; American Rivers; Atlantic Salmon Federation; Maine Audubon; Natural Resources Council of Maine; Trout Unlimited; and the Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
Norton said the agreement will "make history" in a number of ways:
First, the agreement opens 500 miles of the Penobscot River, probably the most significant step to restore Atlantic salmon in the past century, considering that this river has the largest remaining population of Atlantic salmon in the nation.
Second, a progressive utility - PPL Corporation - has agreed to dam removal for the sake of the environment in return for $25 million.
Third, environmental partners have agreed to drop their challenges to other dams on the Penobscot in return for the environmental benefits of removing the selected dams.
Fourth, the utility will recapture substantially all of the energy lost in removing the two dams by increasing production on other dams and improving efficiency.
Fifth, restoring the Penobscot will set an example for the rest of the nation of how partnerships can result in win-win situations for both energy and the environment.