NRCM news release
November, 18, 2021 (Augusta, ME) – Voters who supported Question 1 from across Maine gathered today outside the headquarters of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to call on the agency’s commissioner to immediately suspend the permit for the highly controversial Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor project.
Speakers at the rally noted that Maine law allows DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim to revoke or suspend a permit when there is a “change of circumstance.” The first change in circumstance came in August when the Maine Superior Court terminated CMP’s illegal lease to cross public lands, and the second came when Maine voters overwhelmingly voted 59% to 41% to pass a new law banning the CMP corridor.
Mainers are particularly frustrated that despite passage of Question 1 by a sizable margin statewide, CMP defiantly ignored the will of Maine people by immediately continuing clearcutting in western Maine forests the day after the election—and has accelerated its work over the past 16 days.
“From a youth perspective, this puts little faith into the integrity of our democracy, and only shows that big corporations like CMP can get away with what they do if they have the money to,” said Cole Cochrane of Maine Youth for Climate Justice. “I don’t want that to be the way it is. I want CMP to be held accountable.”
“Maine doesn’t want the corridor. It’s as simple as that,” said John Brautigam, Falmouth attorney and former State Representative. “And we won’t stand by to let those same companies take a chainsaw and bulldozer to our democracy. This fight will continue until CMP and its partners honor the will of Maine people, which could not be any clearer.”
DEP initiated a permit suspension process on August 12 after Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy vacated CMP’s lease to cross public lands. DEP has held one hearing in this proceeding on October 19 and has scheduled an additional public hearing for November 22.
“Central Maine Power did not comply with Maine’s Constitution. Central Maine Power did not comply with the conditions of its environmental permit. And Central Maine Power refuses to comply with the will of Maine voters,” said Eliza Townsend of the Appalachian Mountain Club. “Commissioner Loyzim must suspend the company’s permit immediately. Anything less is a dereliction of her duty to preserve the natural environment of the state.”
“DEP has slow walked the permit suspension process, and CMP just keeps on cutting. Enough is enough,” said Pete Didisheim, Advocacy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). “The DEP Commissioner had all the legal reasons she needed two months ago to suspend CMP’s permit.”
A poll released on Wednesday showed 64% of Maine voters want CMP to stop construction, and 61% support DEP moving to suspend CMP’s permit. A striking 86% of young people ages 18 to 34 in Maine oppose CMP’s actions.
CMP’s defeat on Election Day was a stunning rebuke of the flawed transmission corridor, according to an analysis of the final election results conducted by NRCM. A majority of voters in every Maine town along the proposed route of the corridor voted yes to ban the project, including Lewiston. Statewide, there was a majority yes vote in 88% of Maine towns. The top 25 Maine towns by population all voted majority yes. And there was a majority yes vote in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties. Eight counties voted yes by more than 60%. More than 70% of the voters in Franklin County, where most of the corridor is located, supported Question 1.