There is no doubt some significant corners were cut during the federal permitting process, both before the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Department of Energy, in the issuance of permits to CMP for the destructive NECEC Corridor. The Army Corps failed to conduct the same thorough analysis that was carried out for similar transmission corridor projects in neighboring states and they allowed CMP to write their own analysis and permits in secret and they cut the people of Maine out of the process altogether. The entire process has been shocking, to say the least.
That's why this week, our friends at the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Natural Resources of Maine and Sierra Club, the three leading environmental groups who are in the process of challenging the Army Corps’ permit in federal court, authored a powerful column in the Portland Press Herald. Please read the letter below carefully and consider sharing it on your social media.
Featured Column of the Week
The federal government’s cursory and closeted review of the Central Maine Power corridor should worry every Mainer. In addition to overlooking harmful impacts this project would have on the woods, waters and recreational economy of western Maine, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy are attempting to circumvent Mainers’ fundamental right to comment on a proposal that would have major impacts on the health of Maine’s communities and natural environment.
The National Environmental Policy Act is a foundational environmental law that ensures that agencies fully evaluate projects’ impacts on land, air, water and wildlife and provide robust opportunities for public comment. It was disappointing but not surprising that the Corps ignored the legal requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to do an environmental impact statement, a detailed study necessary for a project with significant impacts on the natural environment. Instead, the Corps completed a far less demanding review called an environmental assessment.
That is why our three conservation groups joined together to file a lawsuit challenging the Corps’ flawed Clean Water Act permit and environmental assessment for CMP’s proposed power corridor: Maine people deserve a thorough and open environmental review of one of the most consequential energy infrastructure proposals ever for the western Maine region.
Through documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, we know that the Corps conducted its review behind closed doors and in close coordination with CMP. It allowed CMP to draft its own environmental assessment and even coached CMP on how to make it more marketable. Then the Corps impermissibly narrowed the scope of its review in a way that allowed the agency to ignore many of the significant environmental impacts of the project, such as forest and habitat fragmentation. The Corps finalized the environmental assessment and project permit with no public notice or opportunity for public comment. A copy of the permit still isn’t available on the Corps’ website.
What was surprising was DOE’s recent decision to follow in the Corps’ footsteps, rushing to permit the CMP corridor without the thorough review the law requires – an environmental impact statement – right before the start of a new presidential administration. Just days before CMP was to begin clearing the power line, DOE issued its permit and final environmental assessment for the project with no public notice. DOE failed to live up to its commitment, made in a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, that it would provide the public with a 30-day comment period before finalizing its review. It also failed to follow its own regulations requiring that an environmental assessment be provided to stakeholders. This is a 180-degree shift from how DOE evaluated similar border-crossing hydropower transmission lines in Vermont and New Hampshire. In both Vermont and New Hampshire, DOE conducted a thorough environmental impact statement, and citizens had an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental impact statement. Maine’s environment and people deserve the same thorough analysis on the CMP corridor that DOE provided for similar proposals in Vermont and New Hampshire.
We have strong laws in place to protect the health of people and the environment. The federal government should not ignore those laws. The way the Corps and DOE conducted the review of the CMP transmission line violates the principles of transparency and accountability that the government should live by. Mainers deserve better.
Featured Story of the Week
Coincidentally, Maine Public’s Steve Mistler exposed CMP’s $240,000 expenditure last year on federal lobbyists. These lobbyists were hired to influence Congress and the US Army Corps of Engineers. While it pales in comparison to the $12.6 million CMP paid for a propaganda campaign to influence Maine voters, it is alarming just the same in light of the fact that everyday Mainers were essentially cut out from the decision making process in the issuance of the Army Corps permit for NECEC.
To read the story, click here.
Featured Letters of the Week
#1 - Ed Buzzell of Moxie Gore brought up some valid points in his letter this week about Maine’s struggling logging industry. CMP regularly claims that Mainers would get priority for NECEC jobs, yet they contracted with a company out of Wisconsin to clear the corridor. Clearly, their words and their actions don’t line up. Read Ed’s letter below.
Senator Susan Collins and Representative Jared Golden worked hard to ensure that $200 million was included in the COVID-19 emergency relief package to support Maine loggers who have been hit hard by the economic downturn associated with the pandemic. This funding is meant to help the industry "get through this difficult period."
At the same time, CMP, which has spent millions to convince Mainers that their unpopular NECEC Corridor project is a solution to Maine's economic problems, has contracted with a logging company based out of Wisconsin to clear the corridor.
Clearly, Maine loggers are hurting for work, yet CMP passed them over to hire out-of-state workers. So please, don't buy CMP's bogus job claims. Actions speak louder than words, and this Spanish company has shown their only loyalty is to their bottom line. Please vote YES this November stop this destructive project.
#2 - Jill Linzee of New Harbor also highlighted this inconsistency in her letter this week in the Free Press titled Against the CMP Corridor. She said:
If, as CMP’s TV ads suggest, the corridor would provide new jobs for Mainers, then why is Northern Clearing, the logging company they’ve hired to clear-cut the forest for the corridor, from Wisconsin? Surely Maine has plenty of skilled logging companies that could do that work.
Prepare yourself for CMP and Hydro-Quebec (the so-called “Clean Energy Matters” campaign) to flood us with more deceptive ads and propaganda over the next nine months. And then, in November, thanks to all of those volunteer signature gatherers, you can vote “yes” to reject the CMP Corridor.
Jill’s full letter can be viewed here.
Thank you so much to all of our grassroots activists who have stepped up to help us spread the word by writing letters to area newspapers. You are really making a tremendous difference, and we so appreciate your continued support in spreading the word about just how bad this project is for Maine.
Activist of the Week
This week, we’d like to recognize volunteer Roger Merchant of Glenburn, who is a retired forester and professional photographer. At the DEP and LUPC proceedings, Roger continues to provide his expertise on forest changes and fragmentation along with the scenic and visual impacts the CMP corridor would cause in western Maine. Over the last 2 1/2 years, he has continued to educate Mainers about the impacts CMP’s destructive corridor would have on western Maine’s environment, forested landscape, and wildlife habitat through letters to the editor and educational webinars. We are so appreciative to Roger, and to all of our volunteers who bring their skills to the grassroots table as we continue to stand up against two foreign corporations who couldn’t care less about Maine’s environment or way of life.
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Thank you all and please enjoy the rest of your weekend!