BANGOR, Maine (WABI) -The proposed 145-mile energy transmission line through Western Maine known as New England Clean Energy Connect faces continued opposition.
Thousands of signatures were turned in to the state on Thursday to get the issue on the November ballot, if enough of those signatures are deemed valid.
State Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford) was one of several people who spoke in front of the state house. ”When 100,000 Maine people speak so clearly, those in power need to listen.”
The No CMP Corridor PAC submitted close to 100-thousand signatures to the Secretary of State Thursday to secure a ballot initiative this November. Sandi Howard, Leader of No CMP Corridor, says the speed at which the signatures were obtained during the cold winter months in a pandemic are proof of how important the issue is to Mainers.
“This clearly shows the people of Maine will not be silenced by CMP’s high powered lawyers or lobbyists. Mainer’s won’t stand down until their voices have finally been heard.”
The referendum would:
- Require legislative approval for any high impact electrical transmission line (more than 50 miles). (Retroactive to 9/16/2020)
- Put a geographic prohibition on building high impact electrical transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec region. (Retroactive to 9/16/2020)
- Reaffirm the Maine Constitution’s requirement that the Legislature approve leases, like CMP’s, to cross public lands if they significantly alter the use of those lands. (retroactive to 9/16/2014)
“The initiative, if successful, would cast aside years of regulatory proceedings and findings at the state level and the federal level.”
So says Jon Breed, executive director of Clean Energy Matters, a PAC in support of the corridor. He questions the motives and ethics of the NO CMP Corridor PAC, claiming they are working for and supported by fossil fuel companies.
“As for Clean Energy Matters, we have been 100% transparent about where our money comes from and where our money goes. You can look it up, and you can account for every dollar we’ve spent.”
This is the second attempt at putting the issue to a statewide vote. Last August, around 75,000 signatures were submitted for a similar proposal.
“You’ll recall last year the opposition had significant legal issues associated with their notaries.” says Breed. “There’s also issues of forgery that were reported on widely. So we’re going to be looking at all of these things.”
“There was a poll out today from Hydro-Quebec that actually showed a majority of Mainers do support this.” said Breed.”
When asked about the poll, Bennett quoted one of the questions. “Which of the following is a bigger priority for you? One, doing what we can to stop construction of the clean energy corridor. Two, focusing our efforts on recovering from the COVID-19 economic crisis, improving schools and addressing our healthcare needs. That’s the kind of poll they’re pushing.”
If the referendum fails or is blocked by the courts, the corridor is on track to be completed in 2023.