The claim that this project, NECEC (the CMP corridor), will help combat climate change and have minimal impact on Maine’s environment is still being touted by CMP and its supporters. To call it a ‘green energy project’ is a stretch. Here are some of the key concerns:
➢Helping the fight against climate change by reducing fossil fuel use in New England has been the cornerstone for the NECEC. Yet, all the information promising that the project will actually achieve net climate benefits has come solely from CMP who will be profiting greatly from the project. Such being the case, we should be a little cautious about accepting their information without some verification. A bill (LD 640) was proposed in 2019 that would have required an independent study to evaluate the project’s environmental benefits. But, CMP lobbyists swarmed state legislators and managed to sway enough votes to kill the bill. Why wouldn’t CMP have welcomed such a study that presumably would have backed-up their claims thus securing concrete justification for the project? Their heavy lobbying against LD 640 raises suspicions and makes their environmental claims even more questionable.
➢All told, the proposed NECEC will clear vegetation through 263 wetlands, across 115 streams and 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas. Only one or two environmental groups in Maine support the project. The major groups oppose it. The Maine Sierra Club, Maine Audubon, Appalachian Mtn. Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited, etc. all testified against the project at public hearings. Several of these groups currently have lawsuits challenging various deficiencies around the approval process. If the NECEC benefits the environment like CMP claims, why do all these environmental groups oppose it?
➢The fifty-three miles of new corridor would enter Maine from Canada in the upper Kennebec Region. This wilderness area is unique in that it is the last remaining extensive unfragmented forest east of the Mississippi River. This forestland, extending from western into northern Maine, provides rich wildlife habitat. It has been classified by the National Audubon Society and Birdlife International as a ‘globally significant Important Bird Area’ ….’vital to the breeding success of millions of forest songbirds every year ……(and is) the “baby bird factory” for the entire Atlantic Flyway….’
➢Trout Unlimited testified the following at public hearing: ‘The region through which the proposed NECEC project will be completed is the heart of the largest reservoir of intact aquatic habitat in the Northeast. This habitat supports populations of native brook trout that have been identified as the ” last true stronghold for brook trout in the United States.” The proposed new corridor would substantially fragment this habitat, with multiple stream crossings that impact brook trout habitat…’
For the NECEC to site their 1.2 billion watt transmission line through this critical natural area as a ‘green’ project is outrageous. The mitigation and compensation requirements contained in the permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection to NECEC are inadequate in making up for the significant environmental impact the project would have on these exceptional woodlands. And, along with all those concerns, it is still unclear as to whether the NECEC even has any climate benefits.This area is unique and too precious to sacrifice for a project with so many uncertainties. Vote YES on Question #1 to keep the CMP corridor out of the Upper Kennebec Region.