Political Brew: Power corridor speed bumps, a union fight and tribal sovereignty

News Center Maine

Click HERE to watch the segment with Democratic political activist and former candidate for governor and US Senate Betsy Sweet, and conservative WLOB Radio host Ray Richardson, who are our analysts this week.

MAINE, USA — Central Maine Power's Quebec to Massachusetts power transmission corridorthrough Maine, officially known as the New England Clean Energy Connect, faces new pressure in the legislature and the courts.

Lawmakers are considering three bills that would prevent foreign money from being spent in Maine political campaigns. Hydro-Québec, which the Province of Quebec owns, has spent millions to try to defeat referendum questions aimed at stopping the corridor project. Maine already prohibits foreigners from contributing to candidates running for public office.

Betsy Sweet believes there should be no foreign money in issue campaigns either.

"The influence of foreign corporations should not be allowed in our electoral process," says Sweet. "They're not representing another side of Maine voters, they're representing a foreign economic interest. And that's not always in the same interest as Maine people."

Richardson believes the opposition to the power corridor is getting out of control, saying, "They keep trying to change the rules in the middle of the ball game because there are interests out there including big oil that don't like this.

A Superior Court ruling this week could also prove to be an obstacle.

The NECEC project includes a lease to about 36 acres of public land. The Maine constitution says anything that 'substantially alters' public land must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the legislature, so Justice Michaela Murphy says the state needs to further analyze the effects.

Richardson disagrees with Murphy's ruling. He says the land already has power lines on it, so "I don't see how this is substantially different than what is already there."

Sweet believes the project would substantially alter the public land, and adds, "The reason we have these rules in place... is to make sure that we don't have things that irreparably harm our environment."

 

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  • Sandra Howard
    published this page in News 2021-03-21 16:29:35 -0400