NRCM news release
December, 5 2019 (Lewiston, ME) — People from across Maine gathered in Lewiston to express their growing concern over the proposed Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor through Western Maine and call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a rigorous environmental review for the controversial transmission line, as was done for similar projects in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Testimony at the public hearing, which was held only after pressure from Congressman Jared Golden, highlighted the overwhelming opposition faced by the troubled transmission line and focused squarely on the significant harm the massive project would have on the natural environment and recreational economy of Western Maine.
“As a fly-fishing guide based out of Kingfield, I get to share some of the most beautiful remote places in Maine with my clients,” said Todd Towle, a registered Maine Guide and operator of Kingfisher River Guides. “Maine is the last stronghold in the nation for brook trout and has the largest remaining brook trout population in the country. The CMP corridor would unnecessarily threaten brook trout and their habitat, these special places, and these unique Maine experiences.”
A central issue before the Army Corps and Maine people is whether the federal agency will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to fully evaluate the significant environmental impact the proposed CMP corridor would have in Maine. Such an EIS would also assess alternative routes for the project to lessen harm done to the natural environment. To date, the Army Corps has refused to commit to an EIS even though it performed one for similar transmission line proposals in New Hampshire and Vermont.
State and federal agency reviews of the proposed corridor have revealed significant problems with CMP’s project, including a failure to properly assess alternatives that could have reduced the impact of the project on Maine’s environment and people. In May 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a strongly worded letter to the Army Corps saying it had major concerns with the review process as well as CMP’s inadequate permit application that failed to fully examine less-damaging alternatives.
“While the totality of this project imposes significant environmental and social impacts on Maine, we are most concerned about the approximately 54 miles of new, permanently cleared transmission corridor,” said Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “CMP’s proposed project is not in the public interest, is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Maine people, and would significantly impact Maine’s environment.”
In addition to the Army Corps review, the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) and Department of Environmental Protection are still reviewing the project and have not yet decided whether to approve it. Their review was delayed after LUPC Commissioners expressed concerned about the project’s impact on remote Beattie Pond, forcing CMP to pursue an alternative route it had previously claimed was not available to them.
Throughout the extensive state and federal review of the controversial project, CMP has failed to demonstrate how its corridor project would benefit the climate by reducing global carbon pollution, a fact emphasized by the Massachusetts Attorney General in a December 2018 filing. In the 2019 legislative session, CMP spent more than $100,000 on an army of lobbyists to defeat a bill passed by bipartisan majorities of the Legislature that would have required an independent evaluation of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions impact.
“CMP and Hydro-Quebec fought an objective analysis of their claimed climate benefits because they knew it would reveal that these claims are false. Without demonstrable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, this incredibly destructive project only benefits CMP and Hydro-Quebec,” said Ely. “Simply put, this proposed project would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions but would significantly harm Maine’s environment and is deeply unpopular in Maine.”
Opposition to the CMP corridor remains widespread in every corner of Maine, especially among residents of Western Maine where the corridor would have the most impact.
- To date, 25 towns have voted to oppose or rescind their support.
- Two of the state’s biggest unions as well as the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine and Franklin County Commissioners have come out in opposition to the project.
- A March 2019 poll found that 65% of Mainers oppose the CMP corridor while 90% of Franklin County residents and 83% of Somerset County residents oppose the project.
- Opponents have organized a referendum campaign to put the CMP corridor on the November 2020 ballot and are in the process of gathering signatures to submit by early 2020.
For additional background on the CMP corridor project visit: https://www.nrcm.org/programs/climate/proposed-cmp-transmission-line-bad-deal-maine/