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Environmentalists Fault Certification of CMP Corridor

The proposed transmission corridor would intersect the Appalachian Trail three times. (mahout/Adobe Stock)
The proposed transmission corridor would intersect the Appalachian Trail three times. (mahout/Adobe Stock)
January 9, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Environmentalists say the Land Use Planning Commission's decision to certify a proposed power transmission corridor through Maine forests disregards the enormous harm it would do.

The proposed corridor would carry hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts along a route through the largest contiguous temperate forest in the country.

On Wednesday, the LUPC certified that the Central Maine Power Company's proposal complies with all applicable land-use standards.

But according to Sue Ely, clean energy attorney at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, evidence presented by expert witnesses during the approval process told a different story.

"It would have negative impacts on Maine's brook trout, cause significant habitat fragmentation in the north woods, and it would also have dramatic visual and recreational impacts in the region," she points out.

Central Maine Power says the project would benefit the climate by reducing carbon emissions, but opponents say there is no evidence that it would have that effect.

Ely says the proposed transmission line would simply be redirecting power from existing sources along a different route through Maine.

"Hydro-Quebec themselves have stated over and over again that this is existing hydropower, that they would build no new facilities," Ely points out.

Local municipalities impacted by the corridor also have a say. Twenty-five towns already have voted to oppose or rescind their support for the project.

A 2019 poll found 65% of Mainers are opposed to construction of the corridor, and Ely points out that those who spoke at public hearings on the project overwhelmingly opposed it.

"There were also a very large number of written comments that were submitted, and the majority of those were also negative," she states.

The LUPC certification was forwarded to the state's Department of Environmental Protection, where regulators will decide whether or not to grant a permit.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME