Letter to the Editor: The truth about the Question 1 referendum

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Opponents of Question 1 claim that, “Question 1 gives politicians the power to impose dangerous retroactive laws slowing job creation and Maine’s economy.” That statement is a lie.

Question 1 does not contain language that gives the Maine Legislature authority to enact retroactive, new laws beyond the Question 1 referendum and only enforces existing law and the Maine Constitution with respect to the use of public lands consistent with the recent Superior Court decision. Reference to poles, transmission lines and facilities, landing strips, pipelines, and railroads in the full text of the proposed bill is meant to protect public lands from substantial alteration by these types of industrial activities, consistent with the Maine Constitution.

Opponents of Question 1 have attacked the word “retroactivity” to misinform voters so that Hydro-Quebec and CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola, two foreign corporations, will be able to realize $15 billion in profit from the NECEC. Retroactivity is well established in Maine law. The supplemental budget for fiscal year 2021 conforms with Federal tax law retroactive to tax years beginning after January 1, 2018.

A Yes vote on Question 1 would ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, especially the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project that would bring hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts by means of a 100-foot-wide, destructive transmission line through 53 miles of the western Maine mountains and require legislative approval for high-impact electric transmission lines elsewhere in Maine. Question 1 also would require a two-thirds vote of the Maine Legislature to use public lands for such projects.

The claim that Question 1 is a political power grab is politically motivated nonsense.

I strongly encourage voters to read the language in the Question 1 Referendum and the full text.

John R. Nicholas

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