The week of April 10th marks the beginning of a jury trial that will determine whether Central Maine Power (CMP) is allowed to defy the will of Maine people. The result could be a defining moment for the future of the CMP corridor.
On November 2, 2021, Maine people voted overwhelmingly to reject the CMP corridor. It was a resounding defeat, sending a clear message that Mainers agreed the project wouldn’t deliver real climate benefits, provided little economic benefit to Maine, and wasn’t worth the path of destruction that would be left in its wake. Mainers know a bad deal when they see it.
Since that time, CMP has done everything in its power to subvert the will of Maine people. Just hours after the election, CMP filed a lawsuit against the State of Maine claiming the referendum was unconstitutional. The next morning it was back in Western Maine clearing trees. It took intervention from Governor Mills and the Department of Environmental Protection to stop them. Then, using its army of lawyers, the company filed a request for an injunction to block the referendum from being implemented, which the court denied.
Last year, the State Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a lower court must examine a very narrow legal question: whether CMP had “vested rights” in the project before the referendum came into effect. The next step in that case is a jury trial during the week of April 10th that will consider whether CMP deliberately expedited construction knowing that the project might be shut down by voters.
What’s clear is that CMP rushed this project from the very beginning. It cut corners, misled Mainers with false information, and disrespected Mainers every step of the way. During the referendum campaign, CMP spent more than $60 million to engage in dirty political tricks, which were so bad that Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz reprimanded the company for its behavior.
We have been honored to stand with youth climate justice activists, tribes from Maine and Canada, people in Western Maine who rely on a vibrant outdoor recreation economy, and many others in opposing the CMP corridor. I hope you’ve had a chance to read the perspective of one of our partners, Sunrise Movement Franklin County, that recently appeared in the Portland Press Herald.
Since the vote when Maine people resoundingly rejected the CMP corridor, we’ve shown that there’s a better path forward, centered in Maine’s pragmatic approach to solving problems. Together, we are re-envisioning our electric grid to make it work for Maine people and pursuing home-grown clean energy projects that provide real, verifiable reductions in pollution. Maine is busy generating good-paying jobs, making long-lasting investments in our communities, and powering the future with healthier, more affordable electricity.
I’m sure many of you will be closely tracking the jury trial, as will we. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but I can guarantee you the Natural Resources Council of Maine will remain sharply focused on achieving our shared goal of a more just and equitable clean energy future that works for Maine.
—Nick Bennett, NRCM Staff Scientist
Banner photo: View from Sally Mountain over Attean Pond near Jackman. Photo by J.Monkman/NRCM