Maine Bicentennial B-Roll: The Villagers vs. The Pillagers!
Auburn / Lewiston, ME, August 21st, 2021-
A group of hearty advocates gathered for the Maine Bicentennial Parade to bring attention to corporate influence and water privatization. Much of their focus was on Poland Spring, who was the Bicentennial's headline sponsor, as well as Casella and Central Maine Power, who also sponsored the event. Though they brought up the rear as the "Bicentennial B-Roll" of the parade, many onlookers stayed despite the heat and gave overwhelmingly positive responses to their messaging.
The parade, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Maine’s establishment as a colonial project, was sponsored by many of Maine’s leading environmental offenders, including Poland Spring, Casella, and Central Maine Power. Nestlé recently sold Poland Spring to a pair of private equity firms now operating as BlueTriton Brands, bringing local water sources into the focus of Wall Street, and a continued stream of plastic waste into landfills and waterways. These companies’ sponsorship of the bicentennial celebrations showcases the State of Maine’s relationship with these polluting corporations, and, for the attendees, presented an opportunity to show solidarity in our collective struggle for a healthier future. While many residents are aware of individual issues such as the CMP Corridor, industrial fish farms, Casella, potential Metallic Mining or Poland Spring bottled water, most are not aware of the larger context - that Maine’s water is the target of the growing pressure of exploitative international private interests, and our current laws and legal infrastructure are currently inadequate to protect it.
Beyond being detrimental to Maine’s long-term economic, environmental and social stability, these corporations' presence in Maine is contradictory to any reasonable path to mitigating the effects of harmful changes in our climate. Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, revealing that the key window for action to prevent the worst effects of climate change is within the next ten years. Its findings confirm what Indigenous and environmental activists have been saying for decades - unless we dramatically reduce carbon emissions and pollution, we will face the consequences.
The State of Maine’s leadership has had an absolutely essential role in all of this to ensure the continuous triumph of harmful capitalists over the environment and the well being of Maine people. Through the attempts to strip the Penobscots and other tribes of their rights to self governance and stewardship of their ancestral homes, they allow deregulation of lands which then fall under “state protection” so that private interests can operate how they please, whether dumping waste or extracting resources.
These issues are also inseparable from the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Indigenous people across the globe make up 5% of the world's population, but protect 80% of its biodiversity. In Maine, the waste management company Casella is looking to expand its landfill at Juniper Ridge, which is located near the Penobscot River a few miles upstream of the Penobscot Nation. The risks of leachate (the mess of toxic chemicals released by decomposing garbage) seeping into the Penobscot and harming the web of life has been practically ignored as the company insists on importing waste from neighboring states for profit. In Maine and across the world, corporations like Casella, Nine Dragons Paper Company, and others recognize that the most effective way to roll back regulations and weaken resistance to their destructive industries is by undermining indigenous stewardship of the lands and waters they want to exploit.
These corporations are highly organized and work together.
All the more reason for us villagers to continue to organize against these pillagers.