Central Maine Power’s and Hydro-Quebec’s New England Clean Energy Connect project is “clean power.” Really? Hydropower has environmental and societal costs.
For example, Hydro-Quebec’s James Bay Project is a series of dams on rivers that flow or flowed into southern Hudson Bay. Construction began in the 1970s, before environmental assessments were required, and without consulting Indigenous peoples, leading to conflicts over land rights, impact on way of life and environmental issues. The dams flooded thousands of square miles of land, massively altered the flow of freshwater into the bay and brought mercury pollution and toxicity issues to Indigenous peoples.
On April 25, 2019, I attended the New England Estuarine Research Society conference in York Harbor. Scientists from the University of New Hampshire described their new research. The Cree had contacted them, concerned about declines in James Bay’s seagrass, which is essential habitat for the fish and waterfowl on which they depend. The Cree suspected that the James Bay Project has made the bay’s waters unsuitable for seagrass and sought scientific investigation. Results are not yet in, but it’s a reasonable hypothesis.
CMP and Hydro-Quebec do not discuss these human and environmental costs in their ads. Their argument that NECEC will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is controversial.
Meanwhile, Maine is being asked to facilitate Massachusetts’ purchase of this type of “clean” power by allowing 53 miles of transmission lines to permanently scar our wild North Woods. Maine is a destination for outdoor lovers; we should treat our wild lands like jewels.