We need your immediate action, so I’m going to jump right into the business at hand.
The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee has reported Senator Rick Bennett’s bill, LD 194, "An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda" out of committee. As the name suggests, this bill aims to protect the integrity of Maine elections by closing the loophole that has allowed millions of dollars to pour into Maine’s referendum elections from Hydro-Quebec, a corporation owned solely by a foreign government. Foreign influence is currently illegal for all other types of elections in Maine, and up until now, a foreign government has never sought to influence the outcome of a referendum election in our state.
In addition to spending a record sum of money to sell Maine voters on a project they stand to make $12.4 billion from, Hydro-Quebec violated Maine election law by spending upwards of $100,000 to influence Maine voters before disclosing their spending. For this violation, they were assessed the second largest fine ever for a campaign violation in Maine. They have not shown respect for our voters or our laws, and they fully intend to continue to meddle in our election right up until this loophole is closed.
HQ president Sophie Brochu testified in opposition to Senator Bennett’s bill, saying that her company has a right to speak (spend) in Maine elections even though we do not have the right to engage in Canadian elections at any level. During the work session, HQ’s lobbyist lectured the VLA Committee for nearly 10 minutes without disclosing that he was there on behalf of the foreign government-owned corporation. Clearly, Hydro-Quebec is desperate because they know that Mainers do not want to serve as an extension cord for Massachusetts.
Regardless of how you feel about the NECEC project, LD 194 is simply good governance. A dangerous loophole exists in Maine’s election law, and this bill would fix it.
LD1587: This week in Augusta began with the public hearing before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee for Representative Scott Landry’s bill to remove the PUC’s ability to override the will of local municipalities for the development of nonessential for-profit transmission lines.
Click the link below to view Rep. Landry's testimony.
Liz Caruso, the First Select Person for the Town of Caratunk, provided this heartfelt testimony about the struggles her town has faced during the permitting process for CMP’s destructive and unnecessary corridor.
As the Maine Municipal Association pointed out in their testimony, “The initial construction of transmission lines is very intrusive to communities and after installation they remain an eyesore that local officials are powerless to remedy...Since nonessential transmission lines have such dramatic and lasting impacts on municipalities, they should have a say in the matter before their fate is sealed.”
You will all be shocked to hear that Central Maine Power does not share these beliefs. Their lobbyist, Jim Mitchell, testified in opposition to the bill. In his testimony, he called out the town of Caratunk twice to make the point that small towns shouldn’t have any input in future for-profit projects the company may pursue, even if they have no benefit to Maine.
Why did CMP pick on this town specifically since it’s only one of the 24 towns that voted in opposition to the CMP Corridor? Likely because it’s the smallest, and CMP is a bully.
To quote Jim Mitchell, “To secure our collective future, not simply the wants of a few, we cannot have a tiny minority in a single town determine whether or not an electric transmission facility with enormous benefit for the many (aka their shareholders) should be built.”
The least CMP could have done was get Caratunk’s vote right. It wasn’t a 12-8 vote as Jim claimed, it was a 12-3 vote. Caratunk residents know a bad deal when they see one.
To view the full hearing, click here. Our bill begins after the 10:30 break.
LD 1295: On Thursday, the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee held a joint work session on our referendum, LD 1295. In a vote that was purely procedural, they moved to indefinitely postpone the referendum, which sends it directly to the voters.
LD 1545: On Friday, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on Representative Jessica Fay’s bill, “An Act Regarding Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reductions Associated with Significant Development Projects.” If passed, this bill would require significant development projects to substantiate all greenhouse gas reduction and environmental benefit claims. As we’ve seen with the CMP Corridor, the current permitting process allows applicants to make lofty climate claims through flashy ads and public relations campaigns without ever substantiating those claims during the permitting process. If we are serious about addressing climate change, this important information needs to be supported by data and thoroughly reviewed by approval agencies at the state and Federal level, not by a newspaper editor who elects to endorse an opinion column from a foreign corporation’s marketing executive.
If you’re interested in learning more about this bill, my testimony can be found here.
Featured Poem of the Week
Thank you, Susannah for lending your talent to our cause. You certainly have a way with words!
Featured Letter of the Week
By Theresa York of Farmington
“CMP is running an ad on TV right now that claims that their unpopular corridor will cause “No destruction of public lands. But don’t take our word for it. Get the facts.”
Well, the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, who is charged with overseeing our public lands, recently sent a letter to the Bureau of Parks and Lands that states, “The clearing and placement of large transmission towers and lines on an approximately one-mile-long strip of land across constitutionally protected public reserve lands is a substantially different use of these lands and would substantially alter the use of those lands.” The letter goes on to say that the Bureau “undermined” the intent of the Maine Constitution in issuing leases to CMP without seeking the required two-thirds vote.
This letter was authorized by every single member of the committee but one, and the House Chair said that CMP’s leases were “secret, backroom deals.” Justice Mchaela Murphy is currently deciding how to proceed with the pending court case after finding that the Bureau in fact never determined if our public lands would be significantly reduced or altered before issuing the leases. This should enrage everyone, considering that nearly three-quarters of Maine voters supported the constitutional amendment to require legislative oversight for projects that would have this sort of impact on land that belongs to the people.
So there are the facts that CMP doesn’t want you to have. This November, vote YES to reject the CMP Corridor.”
Activists of the Week
OUR VOLUNTEER SIGN CAPTAINS!!
This week, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our volunteer sign captains. As you can imagine, distributing lawn signs from Kittery to Caribou is no small feat. But these Mainers have stepped up in a big way as volunteers to help us distribute signs to a town near you. Please join us in thanking them, and if you haven’t yet signed up to receive your Vote Yes to Reject the CMP Corridor lawn sign, sign up today (we're asking for a $5 donation to cover the costs of a sign). Supplies will soon run out! If you have received your lawn sign, share a photo of your new flashy sign online to help us spread the word!
County Volunteer Sign Captains:
- Androscoggin - Dave Cowan
- Aroostook - Gunther Valentine (aka Robert Steele)
- Cumberland - Carol Howard, Bill Schmidt, Amy Partridge-Barber
- Franklin - Wendy Huish, Darryl Wood, Tom Saviello
- Hancock - Jackie Grohoski
- Kennebec - Linda Woods, Josephine Stevens, Mark Turek
- Knox - Kate Edge and Vince Mecca
- Lincoln - Julie Cromwell
- Oxford - Sarah Otterson, Art Chamberlin, Vicki Schmidt
- Penobscot - Linda Dubois, Jesse and Kasey Lupo
- Piscataquis - Eric Sherman
- Sagadahoc - Linda Lee
- Somerset - Liz Caruso, Ed Buzzell, Bob Haynes
- Waldo - Rachel Herbener and Matt Wagner
- Washington - Robin Seeley and April Adams
- York - Bev White, Bennett Allen, John Meagher
That’s all for this week, friends. Please contact your state senator and your state representative, sign up to get your sign while supplies last (we're asking for a $5 donation to cover the costs of a sign), and if you have a sign, post a photo of it on social media to help us get the word out!
Donate by mail: Check made payable to No CMP Corridor sent to PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04398
Secure online: Donate at www.NoCMPCorridor.com/donate