Letter to the editor: Establish rules to ensure Maine Constitution is upheld

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Regardless of your stance on the CMP corridor, it’s important to note that there are ongoing inconsistencies on assessing change of use on Maine public lands. Public lands belong to the people of Maine. Mainers need to be able to rely on transparent processes, predictable measurements, and that the Maine Constitution is being followed by state government leaders and agencies.

The Agriculture, Conservation, and Forest Committee is reviewing two bills intended to better protect public lands. LD 471: An Act To Require Legislative Approval for Certain Leases of Public Lands would ensure proper oversight of use for public lands. LD 1075 An Act to Protect Public Lands would require the Bureau of Parks and Lands to develop a process and specified rules to determine if a project meets “substantially altered” criteria for public lands.

In 1993, 72 percent of Mainers voted to protect Maine’s public lands by amending the Maine Constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for sales or leases that substantially reduce or alter the value of land held in public trust. A recent example of non-compliance was revealed when two administrations in a row issued leases to CMP without the constitutionally-required Legislative vote.

The concept of altering public lands, however, extends beyond one single project. The Legislature must act to require the Bureau to develop an objective set of specified evaluation criteria that define what substantially altered truly means as it relates to protecting public lands.

In order to ensure openness and transparency in the future, it’s important to pass LD 471 and LD 1075. Establishing these rules will ensure that the Maine Constitution is upheld, and that the same standard is applied to reviewing requests for leases or sales involving public lands, regardless of who is in power.

Sandra Howard
Director, Say NO to NECEC

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