NRCM news release
January 8, 2020 (Orono, ME) – Maine’s leading environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), issued the following statement from Clean Energy Staff Attorney Sue Ely regarding the decision today by the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) to certify to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that Central Maine Power’s (CMP) controversial corridor project is an “allowed use” and “complies with all applicable land use standards.”
LUPC’s certification will now be forwarded to the DEP, where regulators will determine whether or not to approve a permit for the transmission line. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of Energy are also reviewing the CMP corridor for applicable permits. Local municipalities have not yet begun their reviews of the controversial project.
Statement from NRCM Clean Energy Attorney Sue Ely:
“The Land Use Planning Commission’s decision today ignores the enormous harm that the proposed transmission line would have on the recreational experience, scenic character, and natural resources in Maine’s Western Mountains.
The evidence and testimony presented before LUPC made clear that this project would be a bad deal for Maine and cause irreparable damage to the largest contiguous temperate forest in North America. At every single opportunity to share public comments, Maine people showed up in force to voice their concern that the CMP corridor would forever change the North Woods and is incompatible with the existing scenic and recreational uses on which the region depends. Mainers have made it clear they believe that with no verifiable reduction of carbon pollution the project is simply not worth the enormous damage that would be done to Maine’s forests and wildlife.
Throughout its materials and public comments, CMP has consistently disrespected and downplayed the value of the Western Mountains for Maine people and the regional economy. In rushing to try and push this profit-driven scheme through the regulatory process, CMP has also failed to properly consider alternatives that would reduce the harm done to Maine’s environment or mitigate for the damage that would be done.”
During the LUPC review, expert witnesses presented evidence that the CMP corridor would hurt Maine’s world-class brook trout fishery and forever scar the Appalachian Trail by crossing it three times. The Maine State Federation of Firefighters has also expressed serious concerns about the fire risk of CMP’s proposed transmission line—concerns that have not been adequately addressed by CMP or LUPC.
CMP’s corridor proposal is deeply unpopular throughout Maine. Twenty-five towns have already voted to oppose or rescind their support for the project, as have two of the state’s largest unions and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. 65% of Mainers oppose the project, according to a 2019 poll. Despite CMP’s claims in its multi-million-dollar advertising and public relations campaign, there is no evidence that the project would benefit the climate by reducing carbon pollution, a concern raised by the Massachusetts Attorney General, NRCM, and Acadia Center, among others.