The Passamaquoddy Bay region, which includes coastal areas of northern Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, is a world-recognized "hot spot" for species diversity and abundance, and a key habitat area for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Area residents rely heavily upon the waters and other natural resources to make a living — lobster fishing is at the heart of the regional economy, and tourism is on the rise. The remoteness of the bay is part of what makes the area so unique, but because of their isolation, communities in the area have often struggled economically, making them the target of undesirable development proposals because they are seen as the path of least-expected resistance.
When energy companies announced plans to build three massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the heart of the bay, citizens decided to stand up for their lands, waters, and way of life.
Dunkiel Saunders represented determined citizen groups from Maine, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and Canada, which joined forces as "Save Passamaquoddy Bay Three-Nation Alliance," in opposing the developers' permit applications.
We helped the group put together a comprehensive legal strategy to block the developers' requests for permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Maine Board of Environmental Protection. This included developing testimony to highlight the true economic, environmental, and cultural impacts of the proposed projects. Lobstermen and scientific experts explained the risks to the commercial fishery and the population of endangered right whales; Passamaquoddy members of Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Take Care of Our Land) spoke of the threat to their ancestral homelands and waters; and small-business owners dependent on an unspoiled natural environment to draw tourists testified about the adverse impact the projects would have on their livelihoods.
In the face of this vigorous, well-organized opposition, all three companies (Downeast LNG, Calais LNG, and Quoddy Bay LNG) either withdrew their requests for state permits or saw them dismissed.
Dunkiel Saunders has handled similar environmental litigation on a wide range of local, national, and international environmental issues for other clients, including national and regional nonprofits, community groups, municipalities, and individuals.
"We chose Dunkiel Saunders because of their proven success in tough environmental litigation cases. The attorneys at the firm provided excellent counsel and really leveled the playing field in these complex state and federal permitting proceedings. It was invaluable to have such seasoned litigators on our side, helping to ensure that our concerns were heard loud and clear. They helped us achieve our goal of protecting the Bay with effective strategies on several fronts, innovative problem-solving skills, passionate environmental advocacy, and sound judgment. We would not hesitate to hire them again."
– Linda Cross Godfrey, Coordinator,
Save Passamaquoddy Bay, 3-Nation Alliance
"We are the original inhabitants of Passamaquoddy Bay. Tribal members would be uniquely affected by LNG here. One terminal was to be sited on a ceremonial and cultural gathering ground, Split Rock. With the help of our attorneys, we had the opportunity to participate meaningfully, to fight for environmental justice, and to protect our ancestral lands and waters."
--Vera Francis, Coordinator, Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Take Care of Our Land)
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