Economic development writing: The story of Eastport, Maine

There are a couple of things about this story that are worth mentioning: First of all, it was always exciting to get one of my Maine stories published in a big-city newspaper somewhere. Getting one of those stories into a Boston newspaper was good, but getting something printed in a big paper in some more distant locale was cool indeed.  This story was carried by the New York Daily News, and that didn’t happen every day. Second, it’s a story about Eastport, Maine, just about the most distant and remote community in the entire state. Go north along the U.S. coast, and just about the last U.S. town you will pass near is Eastport (okay, okay, to be perfectly accurate, the actual border crossing is in Calais, a few miles away). Back in the 70s, a large corporation (the Pittston Co.) decided it wanted to build an oil refinery there.  Eastport had a deep-water harbor that could handle oil supertankers. The refinery never happened because of environmental concerns. I covered a number of hearings in Eastport about this refinery project, and it was a l-o-n-g drive from home.



EASTPORT, Maine (UPI) – This easternmost city in the nation and former sardine capital of the world is dying. The rotting piers and empty storefronts are conspicuous testimony to that.

But a new chapter in Eastport’s history is about to be written. A New York oil company wants to develop an oil refinery on Moose Island, just outside the downtown area.

Eastport has one huge, underdeveloped natural resource. That is a beautiful, sheltered harbor three by five miles wide and between 90 and 385 feet deep. The harbor, big enough to handle the biggest supertankers, is often called one of the three best deep-water harbors on the East Coast.

The Pittston Oil Co. of New York has announced plans for a $350 million, 650-acre refinery that would produce 250,000 barrels of heating oil and industrial fuel per day.

Some Eastport people are thrilled. Some are not.

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