This week, Congressman Jared Golden sent a letter to the Secretary of the US Department of Energy, urging the department to "reevaluate the issuance of the Presidential permit" to provide his constituents with the same opportunity for public input as was afforded to the residents of NH and VT on similar transmission projects. In the letter, Congressman Golden said, "You can therefore understand the frustration my constituents and I share that DOE reneged their previous commitment" in denying the people of Maine the promised public comment period before the permit was issued.
We are incredibly pleased that Congressman Jared Golden shares our frustration about the lack of transparency in the issuance of the federal permits for the CMP Corridor, and we would like to thank him for standing up for the people of Maine who have been shut out throughout this process.
As previously reported, CMP paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to lobby the Army Corps of Engineers for their federal permits, and as a result, they were the only party with a seat at the table. That’s just wrong, regardless of how you feel about the NECEC Corridor. Hopefully the new administration will heed Congressman Golden’s request and choose to right this wrong.
Please take a moment to thank Congressman Golden for this letter, and urge Senator Angus King to send a similar letter to the administration as well. Please also contact the following White House officials to urge them to comply with Congressman Golden’s request for a public comment period and comprehensive Environmental Impact Study. *If you have already reached out to the Biden administration through the online form, please forward your comments to these contacts as well!*
Ali A Zaidi
Now, I know we’ve had a lot of action items lately (and there are more included in this newsletter), but I can’t stress enough how much we have accomplished together over the last few weeks, so to review:
- The Maine Board of Environmental Protection has included CMP’s massive 700-page ‘minor revision’ application on the agenda for their upcoming meeting on March 18th.
- The Environment and Natural Resources Committee brought the DEP Commissioner in to answer for her misguided recommendations to the Board in reference to the application.
- Congressman Jared Golden has stepped up in a big way to urge the Biden administration to heed our calls for transparency in the federal permitting process.
We would not have been able to achieve all of this without your help, so thank you and please know that your actions have not been in vain.
Now, shifting gears - there has been a lot of attention lately to the injustices suffered by First Nations tribes at the hand of Hydro-Quebec north of the border. This is a story that CMP certainly doesn’t want us talking about. Please, help us spread the word that Hydro-Quebec’s oppressive practices north of the border are unacceptable and that their power is anything but ‘clean’ or ‘cheap’.
HQ is currently operating 33 hydroelectric plants, 130 dams and dykes, flooding 2.6 million acres, and maintaining tens of thousands of kilometers of transmission and distribution lines and roads on our ancestral territories. It doesn’t rightfully own 36% of its total installed electrical capacity, yet we’ve never been compensated for this massive taking, forced to live as second-rate citizens on our own unceded land, and now HQ wants to export this power to Massachusetts.
Its industrial developments have improved the quality of life for Quebec’s non-Native residents by sharing 75% of profits with the government that owns them, but HQ has yet to give us a penny to make up for the permanent loss of critical resources and the erosion of our culture.
HQ has devastated our socioeconomic balance. Food has become more difficult to secure, as the fish we once relied on for survival cannot make it up the rivers anymore, and the fish that remain were poisoned with methylmercury for decades. The migration patterns of large mammals drastically shifted, as they avoid the fragmentation created by reservoirs and transmission corridors and constant loud hum of the HVDC lines, like the ones the company wants to use on NECEC. The waterways we once relied on to travel around our territory are now difficult to navigate in many places. As a result, we are permanently disconnected from our way of life.
While the non-Indigenous majority profits off of Hydro-Quebec’s illegitimate dealings, our people suffer, and the well-being indicators for our communities are now comparable to those of Third World countries. The Kitcisakik Tribe, for example, is situated at the foot of a Hydro-Quebec dam, yet they have no access to electricity, running water or wastewater management infrastructure. Impacted First Nations are forced to live in deplorable conditions of poverty with a suicide rate that is five to seven times higher than the rest of Quebec’s.
First Featured Story
“Too often or for too long people believe that the Indian were dead,” Counsellor Patrick Boivin of the Wemotaci community, part of the Atikamekw First Nation, said during a Zoom interview from his home located in the Wemotaci reservation about 180 miles northeast of Québec City, Canada.
Boivin is speaking about the development of hydropower — damning, diverting rivers, erecting power lines, operating reservoirs and hydroelectric plants — which continues to take place on ancestral lands without the consent of the Wemotaci. This development directly affects the indigenous peoples’ traditional, nomadic hunting and trapping livelihoods.
There is method to Quebec Premier François Legault’s sudden embrace of wind power in a province whose name is virtually synonymous with hydroelectricity.
As Hydro-Québec seeks to export its increasing power surpluses, the provincially owned utility faces stiff opposition from Indigenous groups and environmentalists that have lobbied U.S. policy-makers and voters to reject the new transmission lines needed to carry all those thousands of extra megawatts south.
Mr. Legault’s move this month to get behind an Indigenous-owned wind power project that he previously opposed is part of a goodwill effort aimed at blunting criticism that the province’s hydro riches have been earned on the backs of Indigenous peoples, whose ancestral lands have been flooded by massive hydro dams built without their consent.
Such criticisms have hurt Hydro-Québec’s claims to be “clean energy” provider as it competes with U.S. wind, solar and small-scale, run-of-the-river hydro producers for contracts to supply zero-emissions electricity to Massachusetts and New York.
As you can see, NECEC is facing significant opposition on both sides of the border, as Indigenous tribes to the north are fighting desperately against the government-owned utility that continues to deny their basic human rights, Mainers also remain convinced that the CMP Corridor is an all around bad deal.
Interview of the Week
This week, Hon. Tom Saviello joined Mike Violette to debunk the myth put out by Hydro-Quebec (owned by a foreign government) that Maine voters support their deeply flawed project. As it turns out, Mainers understand that this project would destroy a special part of Maine, they know it’s a bum deal and they don’t trust CMP. Click here for more information about recent polling results.
Two weeks ago, our members submitted 180 letters to the Board of Environmental Protection. If you sent that letter only by email, please now print it off and send in a hard copy. While onerous, this is a requirement for your letter to be eligible for the official NECEC record with the agency. Mail it before March 12th to:
Mark C. Draper, Chair
Board of Environmental Protection
c/o Ruth Ann Burke
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0017
If you haven’t yet submitted comments, please do so by the March 12th deadline. Instructions on how to submit your comments can be found here.
Testimonial of the Week
This week’s activist is author and outdoorsman Carey Kish of Mount Desert, Maine. As many of you know, Carey has taken full advantage of exploring the natural resources of Maine and beyond. For years, Carey has encouraged people to explore the great outdoors with his local newspaper columns, nationally-featured articles, and adventure guides. If anyone knows the true natural resource value of western Maine where the corridor route would go through, it’s Carey, and he’s worked hard on our effort to educate and advocate for protecting these wild places. When I asked Carey why he volunteers, he told me his reason to oppose the CMP corridor is the same as ever, that the CMP power line plan is too destructive to Maine’s natural beauty. And, that’s why Carey collected signatures to bring this issue to a statewide vote. We are so thankful for everyone, like Carey, who is involved in our effort. As the polling shows, this is a personal issue for so many who wish to protect Maine, it’s natural resources, and way of life. That spirit of place cannot be replaced with large-scale industrial infrastructure, like CMP’s corridor. Thanks for bringing your experiences with nature to us all, Carey!
SAVE THE DATES!
There are a few important events coming up that we’d like you to mark your calendars now for. We will send out more information about each of these events and provide talking points in the coming week.
Monday, March 15:
Public hearings in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on:
- LD 194, An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign Government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda
- LD 479, An Act To Ban Foreign Campaign Contributions in Maine Elections
Thursday, March 18:
- 9:00am - Board of Environmental Protection Meeting with NECEC ‘minor revision’ application on the agenda. *It is critical that we pack the digital room on this one*
Public hearing in the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee on LD 471, An Act To Require Legislative Approval for Certain Leases of Public Lands
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Thank you all and please enjoy the rest of your weekend!