Abigail Curtis | BDN Friends of Penobscot Bay protests Kidder Point fertilizer and chemical companies

The world is watching while Maine argues over coastal development

By any measure, Penobscot Bay pilot David Gelinas has a hard job. In all weather and conditions, he travels miles out to sea to clamber aboard vessels in order to steer them and their cargos safely into port.

But harder even than his work has been what he does in his spare time: advocating for the future of the port of Searsport and for the state’s working waterfront.

He has spent years trying to push back against what he sees as intensifying “not in my backyard” opposition to any project or infrastructure upgrade proposed for Penobscot Bay. That includes even the ones he believes will make his job easier and safer to do, such as the Searsport Harbor dredging project, which was halted in 2015 amid fierce resistance.

“The deepening part of the project was important to us. We were looking at it as enhancement of the safety of what we’re doing on a daily basis,” Gelinas said. “It’s a shame to me that people who have a concern about something don’t seek out knowledgeable answers. Really, what’s been happening for the last 10, 15 years isn’t an effort to understand things. It’s been an effort to kill things.”

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