The text of the letter, dated May 16, sent to the New England Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the New England Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New England Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service:


“As your agencies begin a thorough review of the Army Corp of Engineers’ draft feasibility report for the proposed harbor improvement project at Searsport in Penobscot Bay, I urge you to ensure that the project’s environmental effects are fully understood and evaluated.

“I have serious concerns about several aspects of the proposed project including the potential contamination of dredged materials, and the site of the proposed dredge disposal site. As you know, the communities surrounding Penobscot Bay have raised similar concerns through the public comment process about the disposal of dredged sediment in open water sites in Penobscot Bay. It is clear to me, and other residents of Penobscot Bay, that this project certainly seems to present a significant impact on water quality. 

“I also share Penobscot Bay residents’ questions about the impacts of the proposed project on the Penobscot Bay economy. Tourism, outdoor recreation, and commercial fishing are the economic engines of the mid-coast, and any threat to their sustainability requires thorough investigation. As you know, the Penobscot Bay region is located one of the most productive lobster habitats in the world, and has supported Maine’s critical lobster fishery and the surrounding communities for generations. The impact of disposing nearly a million cubic yards of dredged material in the heart of the Bay would be significant.

“In addition to lobsters, Penobscot Bay is an important regional ecosystem. Millions of dollars in federal funding, as well as years of work, have been expended in an effort to restore the Penobscot watershed ecosystem through increasing the available habitat and rebuilding the populations of important indigenous species. Long-term restoration of this watershed and the Bay will help recover the region’s once abundant groundfish stocks. These efforts and the fisheries they aim to support deserve forward thinking protection through your attention to the potential impact of this project on the Bay’s fisheries.

“I hope that a comprehensive review of available scientific data will take into account the concerns that I share with local residents and fishermen.

“Your agencies’ role in providing a thorough scientific examination of the potential environmental effects of disposal of dredged material in Penobscot Bay cannot be overstated — your work is critically important to the sustainability and long-term health of mid-coast Maine. Thank you for your efforts to protect water quality and fisheries resources throughout the Northeast. If I or my staff can be of any assistance in this effort, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.”


Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress