On Thursday, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee held a public hearing for Senator Rick Bennett’s Bill, An Act To Protect Public Lands. This bill was brought forward out of necessity to ensure that for future deals involving Maine’s public lands that would significantly reduce or alter the land, the Maine Constitution is upheld.
I was proud to be joined by so many dedicated and passionate volunteers in testifying in support of this important bill. Nobody testified in opposition. If you weren’t able to attend the public hearing (or you couldn’t hang around for the 6.5 hours on a Thursday), the recording can be found here, and the written testimony is available here. Our bill was last on the agenda, so be sure to fast forward until you see Senator Bennett presenting to the ACF Committee at marker 4:14:22.
Activist of the Week
This week, we’re recognizing Eliza Townsend for her outstanding testimony in support of both public lands bills, LD 471 and LD 1075. As the Maine Conservation Policy Director for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and a former Commissioner of the (then) Department of Conservation, Eliza’s expertise and insight into the inner workings of the Department have been invaluable to the public and Committee alike during the public hearings.
In her testimony on behalf AMC, Eliza said:
Over the past 15 months, this committee has expended a fair amount of time and energy discussing a proposed private use of two parcels of public land. This will not be the last time that such a question arises. As we testified on LD 471, and before that on last year’s LD 1893, there will be future requests for use of the public lands that we cannot anticipate today.
The best way to make difficult decisions balancing the many demands placed upon the Bureau of Parks and Lands is through transparency. Yet two successive administrations have chosen the opposite, negotiating and signing a lease for private use of public lands without informing or seeking the approval of the legislature. Most recently, BPL Director Cutko declined repeatedly even to answer the committee’s questions about the lease. Clearly the people of Maine, the owners of the lands, need and deserve a better process.
LD 1075 requires the Bureau of Public Lands to develop through rulemaking an objective process for evaluating whether a proposed use would reduce or substantially alter them. Further, it requires public notice and comment before any new use can be authorized. This approach is sensible and clearly needed.
Her full testimony can be found here.
Please join us in thanking Eliza, and the AMC, for this powerful testimony. No CMP Corridor wholeheartedly agrees.
First Featured Story of the Week
Featured Letter of the Week
Also regarding CMP’s illicit land leases this week, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted 12-1 to send a letter to the Bureau of Parks and Lands drive home the fact that the NECEC project represents a substantial alteration of the value and use of Maine public lands, and that there is no doubt that the leases should have been brought to the Legislature for the constitutionally-required ⅔ vote of approval.
Representative Maggie O’Neil, the House Chair of the Committee, released the letter on Facebook, saying:
Both the previous administration and the current one have made secret, backroom deals with CMP to lease public land for the corridor.
Our constitution has a clause that requires the legislature’s approval for substantial alterations to Public Land. The clause was made to protect public land from exploitation via oversight from Maine people.
As legislators we said last session, and now this session (below), that the Bureau of Parks and Lands should have gotten our approval per the constitution and relevant statute.
Right now a court in Maine is deciding this issue. We weighed in to confirm that there should have been oversight of this backroom deal.
Rep. Maggie O’Neil and Hon. Tom Saviello joined WVOM to discuss the Committee’s letter and the pending lawsuit.
Questions about whether two federal agencies each conducted deep enough reviews of Central Maine Power’s controversial power line project in western Maine, and whether those agencies should have worked more closely together, dominated testimony Tuesday in a complex case before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
The Penobscot Nation of Maine, supported in Labrador by Innu Nation and in Quebec by the First Nations of Pessamit (Innu), Wemotaci (Atikamekw), Pikogan, Kitcisakik and Lac Simon (Anishnabek), have written to the White House and to the Prime Minister of Canada to denounce Hydro-Québec's plan to build a hydroelectric transmission line through Maine to Massachusetts. Together, they are asking President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau to halt initiatives that would see the state-owned utility make billions of dollars in profits without consulting or compensating the First Nations on whose ancestral territories its electricity is produced and through which it will be transported.
Featured Column of the Week
By Rep. Nicole Grohoski
Here in Maine, our law rightfully doesn’t recognize hydropower produced by Hydro-Quebec’s megadams as renewable; no hydro producer of more than 100 megawatts is considered renewable. This means that if NECEC were designed to sell power to Maine, it wouldn’t count towards our clean electricity requirements. But somehow, by passing this power on to Massachusetts, proponents (who stand to make billions from this deal) want you to believe this power is clean.
New Hampshire state regulators found that “no actual greenhouse gas emission reductions would be realized” from Hydro-Quebec’s contract with Massachusetts, so they rejected the Northern Pass project, the New Hampshire version of the Maine proposal.
Hydro-Quebec (and Central Maine Power) have gone to great lengths and expense to avoid answering questions about the source of power, because they don’t want us to know that it’s a shell game designed to help HQ double its profits by 2030 (that’s HQ’s actual stated goal).
We can and should say “yes” to clean energy generation, but only if it’s real and benefits Maine. This November, I will be voting “yes” to reject CMP’s for-profit corridor because it’s a bad deal for Maine and is more harmful than helpful in addressing the climate crisis.
Featured Testimonial of the Week
Action Items of the Week
In keeping with Rep. Grohoski’s theme, please help us spread the word that this November, a YES vote rejects the CMP Corridor. You can do this by:
- Adding our Facebook frame to your profile picture
- Requesting a yard sign with the new Vote YES language on it
- Sharing a testimonial from our website
To learn more about our Vote YES to Reject the CMP Corridor campaign, go here.
This week, if you make a donation of $5 we'll sign you up for a Vote YES to Reject the CMP Corridor" yard sign.
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
Thanks for your continued support! Together, WE WILL STOP THE CMP CORRIDOR!