News release from NRCM, TU, and AMC
March 13, 2020 (Augusta, ME) – The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today issued a draft permit for the controversial Central Maine Power (CMP) transmission line. Although the draft decision imposes several significant conditions, DEP’s announcement drew strong criticism from three conservation groups that intervened in both the DEP and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) proceedings.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), Trout Unlimited (TU), and the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) issued the following joint statement:
“Based on our initial review, the CMP corridor continues to carve an unacceptable path through a globally significant forested landscape and provides no verifiable reduction in greenhouse gas pollution. While we appreciate the Department’s attempt to reduce impacts, this remains the wrong project in the wrong place.
The changes and mitigation required by the DEP clearly demonstrate the CMP corridor’s substantial impacts on fish, wildlife, scenic resources, and the character of Maine’s Western Mountains. But they are not enough to justify a project with no benefits for Maine and no demonstrated climate benefits.
Nothing in the draft permit would prevent Hydro-Quebec from simply shifting power from existing markets to Massachusetts to make more money, causing increased pollution in those other jurisdictions. We continue to believe that the best outcome for Maine is for this project to be defeated, so the region can shift attention to real clean energy solutions that would deliver verifiable reductions in carbon pollution.”
AMC, TU, and NRCM presented evidence from five experts as part of the DEP’s review, demonstrating that the CMP corridor would inflict significant harm along the 53 miles of new, permanently cleared transmission corridor by bisecting the largest block of intact temperate forest in the US – a globally significant forest region.
Despite CMP’s claims in its multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, the proposed transmission line is unlikely to provide net reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, according to concerns raised by the Massachusetts Attorney General and NRCM. CMP and HQ played major roles in defeating a bill at the Maine State House in 2019 that would have provided an independent analysis of the climate impacts of the CMP project.
CMP’s deeply unpopular proposal is widely opposed by Maine people. According to a 2019 poll, 65% of Mainers oppose the project. Twenty-five towns have already voted to oppose or rescind their support for the project, as have the Androscoggin and Franklin County Commissioners, two of the state’s largest unions, and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. On March 4, the Secretary of State determined that the citizens’ initiative to reject the CMP corridor gathered enough valid signatures to move forward.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of Energy are still reviewing the CMP corridor for applicable permits. On Tuesday, February 18, the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted 12-0 to void a 2014 decision by the State that illegally gave CMP permission to build on public lands without the two-thirds vote required by the constitution for a “substantial alteration.” Local municipalities have not yet begun their reviews of the controversial project.