1.24.21 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

This was a momentous week for our effort, as Tom, Darryl, Krysta, and I had the privilege of delivering more than 100,000 raw signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday to qualify our referendum for the ballot! Despite the COVID pandemic, we were able to collect more signatures with more Mainers collecting in more communities over a shorter span of time than last year. 

Clearly, momentum is in our favor as more and more Mainers are realizing that the CMP Corridor is a bad deal for Maine.

Here’s the map we created to help you all visualize just how widespread the opposition is to CMP’s destructive corridor.

As you can clearly see, hundreds of Mainers worked very hard to qualify this referendum for the ballot, and even more Mainers (more than 100,000) signed the petition.

Online Celebration

This is cause for celebration, and for those of you who weren’t able to join us on Thursday, the meeting can be watched by clicking the video below:

(Please start the video when the meeting begins around 6:15 min)

Featured Interviews of the Week

There were so many wonderful interviews highlighting our cause this week, but we would specifically like to draw your attention to two of them. The first is Tom Saviello’s interview on WGAN early last week where he discussed the status of the federal permits, and the second is my WVOM interview from the day after we turned in signatures. Please listen to these interviews and share them on social media!

Here’s a graphic we made to highlight a sampling of our positive news coverage this week:

Activists of the Week

This week, we’re highlighting each and every one of our volunteers who contributed to this referendum effort. We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today without the hard work and support of literally hundreds of Mainers who donated their time over the course of the last few months. So thank you to all who stepped, whether you collected a handful or hundreds of signatures, signed the petition, wrote a letter to the editor, donated to our cause, or have helped us spread our message! I continue to be in awe of the passion and dedication of our grassroots movement to protect Maine’s beautiful forest and landscapes.

Click the link to see our thanks to all of our volunteers!

Finally, we’d also like to thank the bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators who spoke in support of our effort at Thursday’s press conference, and we’d like to share their inspired words with you.

Senator Rick Bennett

This is a remarkable day, where the question is put to the people of Maine – Do we have the right to determine our own future, or are relegated to be pawns of foreign corporations, sadly abetted by many we’ve entrusted with public office?

When 100,000 Maine people speak so clearly, those in power need to listen.  

Today we open a new front in our fight to control our own destiny. We are exercising our Constitutional right to make laws directly when our leaders have failed us. And it is important to note that all three branches of our government have failed us – two Governors, the Legislature and the Maine Supreme Court, in striking down the earlier initiative before it even had a vote.  

Indeed, the Court should be put on notice that their continued overreach into legislative power will not be tolerated. Article IV, Part Third, of our State Constitution invests the power to make laws in two places – the elected Legislature and the people ourselves. There is no distinction: if it is inappropriate for the Court to take action on a bill before it's enacted by the Legislature, it is equally inappropriate for them to take action on an Initiative before it is voted by the people.

Further, our State has granted a monopoly franchise to CMP to operate transmission and distribution of power in much of Maine. CMP has abused that franchise. And CMP and its Spanish owners have lied to the people of Maine – about the Corridor’s clean energy benefits, about the number of jobs created. This project is worth $3 billion to CMP and $12.4 billion to Hydro-Quebec, both foreign-owned corporations. Mainers would be wise to view their claims with skepticism.

If CMP moves forward again to try to block the overwhelming opposition of their customers and build this Corridor, they will have rendered the company unworthy of the franchise and the public trust.

The government of Quebec should take note as well. Through their wholly owned subsidiary, Hydro-Quebec, this foreign government has acted with hypocrisy and hostility to the people of Maine, its neighbor. As legislators and volunteer signature gatherers, we find this direct foreign involvement to influence the outcome of elections in Maine appalling.

Under Maine law, it is illegal for a foreign government to directly interfere in the election of a candidate for office. Unfortunately, our law doesn’t extend to referendum efforts, which is how Hydro-Quebec has managed to funnel nearly $10 million into a PAC to influence Maine voters last year. Absurdly, this sort of foreign interference is illegal in Quebec.

Hydro-Quebec’s main mission isn’t to save our environment from global warming. In fact, six of its reservoirs are ranked in the top quarter of the world’s biggest carbon emitting hydro facilities. 

And Hydro-Quebec doesn’t want Mainers to know about its questionable ethics in its dealings with the First Nations tribes. But the stories have begun to emerge of the unconscionable practices Hydro-Quebec has engaged in for decades to illegally flood ancestral lands without compensation or consent, in direct violation of the constitutional rights of the tribes who occupy those lands.

The truth boils down to this: the Corridor has nothing to do with combating global warming. It is a for-profit project that will flood our New England grid with environmentally and ethically dirty energy, all in service to Massachusetts. And all while making two foreign corporations billions upon billions of dollars, while lining the pockets of some politically-connected Mainers.

It is time for the people of Maine to speak. And it is well past the time for our leaders to listen.

Rep. Seth Berry

Today, with these signatures to stop the corridor, Maine people send a strong and clear message to the foreign governments and big banks who own CMP and Hydro Quebec. Our message is this:  We know why you’re here, we know what you’re selling, and we’re not buying it.

Maine people know this: the CMP corridor is a bad deal for Maine. It is unjust. It is destructive. It is unconstitutional. And it is a climate shell game, doing nothing to address the climate emergency we all urgently face. And I have news for you, Iberdrola: No amount of spin, or advertising, or glossy PR from you, or Avangrid, or CMP will keep Maine people from the truth. Your climate claims are a climate con game.

For three decades, I have been convinced that the climate crisis is the most dire emergency facing all of humanity. It is the top reason I first ran for office in 2006, and it remains my top priority today.

When the Maine PUC and other regulators looked at the climate impact of the corridor, they focused on the impact to the New England region -- not the global impact. Now it’s true that if you redirect Quebec hydro to New England, you might well reduce New England’s GHG emissions. But as every Mainer knows: there is no free lunch. For every kWh sent south, there will be a kWh worth of fossil fuels burned to the north. That shift and shaft is what makes this a climate shell game, rigged for profit and not for people or the planet. And in this latest CMP con game, we -- the people of Maine -- are the country bumpkins they hope to deceive once again.

Tackling the climate crisis correctly presents incredible opportunities for our state. With solutions like solar, offshore wind, storage, and efficiency, we can create jobs for Maine people and keep more of our money here in Maine.

14 years ago, I began my service on the legislature’s Energy Committee here in Augusta. For four years, I have chaired that committee. Over those fourteen years, I have watched CMP spend millions to oppose real, maine-based climate solutions. They have opposed rooftop solar and community solar. They have opposed efficiency. More than any other entity, Central Maine Power has been the greatest obstacle to our clean energy future. And now, with greenwashing and astroturfing, they want you to think they care about climate. 

Our energy independence, our energy future, is not a thing to be outsourced or entrusted to multinational monopolies. No. It is a challenge to be met on Maine terms: through Yankee thrift and self-reliance, Yankee ingenuity and independence. Mainers understand this. So we the people of Maine will NOT short circuit our own clean energy potential. 

We will say YES to rejecting the CMP Corridor, YES to our own energy security and clean energy job creation, and YES to an energy future that is of the people of Maine, for the people of Maine and by the people of Maine.  

THANK YOU to all the volunteers who worked so hard to collect these signatures, braving both a pandemic and winter cold, THANK YOU to all who led in this effort, and let’s go forward to pass this ballot question in November!

Rep. Nicole Grohoski

Today, we deliver these signed petitions to give the people of Maine a say in the biggest infrastructure project the state has contemplated in decades -- the proposed CMP Corridor. Today is the culmination of countless hours given by hundreds of volunteers who understand what is at stake for our environment and economy if this project goes forward. Today, the efforts of everyday Mainers have lifted up the voices of tens of thousands of our neighbors who have something to say about the CMP Corridor: It’s a bad deal for Maine! 

Mainers are right to question the claims made by CMP and Hydro-Quebec about the supposed environmental and financial “benefits” of this project. These foreign-owned corporations are first and foremost interested in profits. But hey -- if you were Hydro-Quebec and stood to make $12.4 billion or CMP at $3 billion on this project, you might spend a lot of money to get your way -- like $23 million last year to scare voters into thinking that we’ll lose our lobsters and blueberries due to climate change if we don’t build this Corridor. Hiring 30 lobbyists to kill a bill that would have studied the project’s impacts on regional greenhouse gas emissions -- that’s just chump change to these corporations. 

But we Mainers are not fools. We have watched CMP under-invest and over-profit on our grid here in Maine for years. They’ve overbilled us and then belittled us, their captive customers. We can read Hydro-Quebec’s reports which state their mission of doubling profits by 2030, or that in 2019, they paid $1.7 billion USD to the Province of Quebec, their sole owner. We have every reason to be suspicious of these two companies. 

We will not be distracted by the shiny objects they offer us, a benefits package that amounts to pennies per Mainer per month. Instead -- we will remember what is at stake. Our western Maine woods, forever cut in two. Our own clean energy economy, just getting off the ground, hobbled by the flood of electrons from northern Quebec. The continued abuse of First Nations people by Hydro Quebec, who has and will likely continue to flood their lands without compensation or consent. Maine people are smart enough to save our lobsters and blueberries without this Corridor, and we know a bad deal when we see one.

Rep. Margaret O’Neil

In Maine, we value our public lands. We value them so much that in 1993, Maine people voted to protect public lands by adding special language to our constitution.

Here’s what the constitution says: It requires that any time the State wants to issue a lease that would (1) substantially alter public lands or (2) reduce them, 2/3 of both the House and Senate have to vote to approve it first.

We added this language to our Constitution so that Maine people would have oversight of how public lands are used. 73% of voters voted for this.

Up until the CMP Corridor, administrations followed the rules. The Bureau regularly came to the legislature for public oversight of transmission line projects that were much smaller than the Corridor. 

But a few years back (2014)--rather than following the clear process set in place by our constitution--the previous administration made a secret deal with CMP to cross 36 acres of public land in the West Forks area for the Corridor.

It’s a bad deal for Maine that’s using our public lands for corporate gains to bring power to MA.

Not only does this deal ignore the constitution, it also ignores a law that public lands can’t be leased before they get a certain permit from the PUC. Instead, the Bureau gave CMP a lease 4 years before the permit was granted.

When advocates brought this issue to light, the current administration again skirted the constitution, entering into a second backroom deal with CMP without legislative or public oversight.

To this day, we have not approved the lease. CMP knows that, and they planned to start building anyway. I can’t imagine doing something like that to the state that I love. And I also can’t imagine acting like the rules don’t apply.

CMP and Hydro-Quebec stand to make billions of dollars off of the Corridor. It sets a dangerous precedent to allow them to operate above the law.

That’s why I joined a group of Mainers to bring this secret deal to court. And that’s why I support the work that regular people have done across this state to make CMP face a vote. CMP has to be accountable to our laws and our constitution, and it has to be accountable to the people of Maine. 

In Closing

As you can see, we are fortunate to share the support of such a diverse and powerful group of legislators. Please join me in thanking them for valuing the voice of their constituents over that of CMP’s army of lobbyists.

As we enter the next phase of the campaign, I’d urge each of you to remember this week and hold onto what you’re feeling right now. We know that CMP and Hydro-Quebec will spend millions to dehumanize and discredit our massive volunteer effort because they know that the public is with us.

Again, thank you all so much for your continued support. If you'd like a No CMP Corridor mask, please donate $10 or more and we will send you a mask. See below instructions on how you can donate. 

Donate by mail: Check made payable to No CMP Corridor sent to PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04398

Secure online: Donate at www.NoCMPCorridor.com/donate

To stay up to date and receive text message alerts, text NOCMP to 474747.

Sandi Howard

PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04938.

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