(The Center Square) – A new proposal seeking to block a 145-mile hydropower transmission line through Maine has moved another step closer to the November ballot.
Sandi Howard, who heads the No CMP Corridor PAC, a coalition of environmental groups opposed to the project, said opponents of the project turned in more than 100,000 signed petitions in support of the referendum to the Secretary of State's office on Thursday, the first of several hurdles needed to put the issue before voters.
Howard said the hydropower transmission project would carve through scenic swathes of untouched forest in the North Maine Woods, harming the environment and leading to a loss of jobs and recreational tourism.
"The environmental destruction this project would inflict on one of the most special and wild parts of the state is simply unacceptable, and frankly, Mainers don’t trust CMP to act in their best interests," Howard said in a statement. "Now Mainers will have the opportunity to protect what is theirs at the ballot box with a 'YES' vote."
Opponents of the CMP project had gathered enough signatures to put a similar question on the Nov. 3, 2020, ballot asking voters to block the project, but the state's Supreme Judicial Court ruled it unconstitutional after a lengthy court battle.
Unlike the previous referendum, the latest initiative seeks to ban transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec region and require legislative approval of transmission lines longer than 50 miles. The changes would effectively block the CMP project and require similar plans to be approved by lawmakers, many of whom publicly oppose the project.
Central Maine Power’s $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect calls for providing up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England region.