Natural Resources Council of Maine gives Bob Godfrey its People’s Choice award
by Leslie Bowman
Working Waterfront news story
EASTPORT — Tenacity and dedication. Those were the qualities cited in recommending environmental activist and Eastport resident Bob Godfrey for recognition by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).
Godfrey was given NRCM’s People’s Choice Award in October for his work as researcher, news aggregator and webmaster for the Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3 Nation Alliance. The organization formed to protect the region from proposals to develop liquefied natural gas importation facilities.
Godfrey was honored after winning the most votes from a field of 39 nominees.
Kathy Berry and Sarah Strickland of Robbinston nominated Godfrey.
“For ten years, Bob has showed tenacity and dedication to do thorough research and keep us informed,” they wrote.
“When people have questions about the LNG proposals, I always tell them to go to the website,” savepassamaquoddybay, said Berry, which Godfrey created and regularly updates. It includes links to all relevant documents. At the top of the home page are three tombstone images that represent the LNG projects proposed for the area. Two of the projects are no longer active and only the Downeast LNG proposed for Robbinston is still under consideration.
In 2006, Robbinston residents voted 227 to 83 in support of the project and an agreement between the town and the company was signed. Today, the project has changed its scope to include the export of LNG. Downeast LNG received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permit as an import facility but has now filed an amended application to include export.
Proponents and opponents continue to clash over the proposal.
Godfrey said he gets up each day and researches the latest development in LNG technology worldwide and in his neighborhood.
“Bob is the expert,” said Strickland. “He tries to keep FERC honest.” She worries about the additional environmental and safety concerns the new design poses. “With the need for jobs in the area, the prospects for short-term gain are real,” she said, but she doubts there would be long-term gains.
One voter supporting Godfrey for the People’s Choice honor wrote of his effort, “It has been an intellectual, soulful, physical and financially demanding fight against a cadre of developers, more than a dozen of the nation’s largest law firms, and corporate giants.”
Asked what he has learned from this fight, Godfrey was blunt: “FERC is not accountable; they are in the pocket of industry.” Citing FERC documents, he points out the lack of mention of a “whole bay” study commissioned by his organization to study the social and environmental impacts to the region.
Godfrey has a host of reasons why an LNG terminal should never be sited in eastern Washington County, calling the area the “least viable” location. He believes the position Canada is taking, prohibiting LNG tankers to come through its waters at Head Harbor Passage, will be the ultimate deal breaker, but he is not going to give up the fight until it is over.
In its announcement of the award, NRCM wrote: “Godfrey embodies the tenacity, perseverance, leadership, and unswerving devotion it takes to protect the beauty and heritage of Downeast Maine and Passamaquoddy Bay.”
Coverage of Washington County is supported by a grant from the Eaton Foundation.