Recently, the bipartisan group of legislators who toured the 100’+ wide clear cuts in Segment 1 renewed their call for the Maine DEP to step in and take action to correct the failed tapering requirement. The tapering requirement, which allows for the corridor to be 54’ wide with trees tapering up from 15’ tall to 35’ tall within the 150’ corridor, was included as a permit condition to protect valuable habitat, fisheries and vistas in the Upper Kennebec region from extensive damage and fragmentation.
As the Legislators so eloquently laid out, this condition isn’t working as intended due to the even age nature of the forest, resulting in clear cuts that exceed 100’ wide and will become even wider as CMP continues to frantically clear a swath through the largest undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi river ahead of the November 2 election.
First Featured Letter
As you know, the Site Location Order itself states: “In all other portions of Segment 1, the Order requires that cutting of vegetation be limited and tapering tree growth be maintained within the corridor, significantly reducing the area cleared and minimizing visibility of the project.” The key word is “maintained.” Maintenance is defined as to keep something at the sale marvel or rate. Maintained does not mean to us that the vegetation will grow back. If we use your logic, one building a home under shore land zoning could clear the “view” without being in violation since “it will grow back.” We would be remiss in not adding the present Corridor clearing in Segment 1 will provide an even age forest in the future. This will result in more clear cuts if the current vegetation maintenance requirements are not altered...We would be remiss in not crediting the DEP for trying to minimize the impact of the Corridor. However, the required condition simply cannot accomplish its intended purpose.
Last week, the same bipartisan group of legislators sent a letter to William Hinkel, the Executive Analyst for the Board of Environmental Protection to ask why Mr. Hinkel, BEP Chair Mark Draper and the Assistant Attorney General have slow-walked the DEP permit appeal that was filed in April of 2020.
Second Featured Letter
On July 12, 2021 Commissioner Loyzim provided us with a table showing the various appeals the BEP has before them concerning the Corridor. We note, none of these appeals went to the Board itself. All have been handled by BEP Chair Mark Draper and the Assistant Attorney General. We feel the Board obviously has not been involved in any of these conversations. That is flatly wrong, especially given the obvious statewide significance of this project.
Now that we are aware that the NRCM appeal was filed over a year ago we would ask why this has taken so long? Why haven’t the Chair and Assistant Attorney General set a schedule yet? Whatever the reason, we think you would agree that more than a year delay is way too long…
Chapter 2 of the Department Rules, section 24 (G) states:
Decision on Appeal. The Board shall, as expeditiously as possible, affirm all or part, affirm with conditions, order a hearing to be held as expeditiously as possible, reverse all or part of the decisions of the commissioner, or remand the matter to the Commissioner for further proceedings.
It is disheartening and disturbing to see the Attorney General and BEP Chair continue to delay while invaluable natural resources in the Upper Kennebec area are actively being destroyed.
Commissioner Loyzim hasn’t yet responded to the letter that she received on August 18, however William Hinkel responded on 8/25. In his letter, he blames project opponents and Mainers who have submitted public comments for the Board’s extensive delays, and said that the “Board is proceeding with the appeals in a manner to ensure fairness to all parties and the public.”
While I wholeheartedly disagree with his message, which seemed to be drafted in a way to discourage concerned Mainers from contacting the Board, composed of unelected bureaucrats, with their concerns, there does seem to be some movement thanks to Senators Rick Bennett and Russell Black and Representatives Scott Landry and Lori Gramlich.
Hinkel said, “The Department staff are currently working to assemble a packet of materials for the Board (Board packet), including a staff recommendation in the form of a proposed Board Order. Once available, the Board packet and agenda with the meeting location and start time will be sent to the full Board, circulated to parties of record, and posted on the Board’s website… Every effort is being made to prepare the Board packet and focus on a specific date for when the Board will schedule its consideration of the appeals.”
I hope that Mr. Hinkel would agree that it wouldn’t be “fair to all parties and the public” to delay this important issue any longer, considering the extensive damage that’s being inflicted.
Featured Photo from Johnston Mountain Township
As you can clearly see, CMP continues to clear cut a swath much wider than 54’ with no taper at all. It’s time for the DEP to step in and halt construction until this matter is sorted, or better yet, until the route connects and the people of Maine have voted.
Featured Letter to the Editor
By Linda Lee of Bowdoin
We need YOU to draft a letter to your local editors!
Thank you, Linda, for speaking up and helping us spread the word that a YES vote on Question 1 will stop the CMP Corridor. Letters from individual Mainers in local editorial pages are incredibly powerful, and we will need many more of them ahead of the November 2 election. Can you submit a short 250 word letter urging fellow Mainers to vote YES on Question 1?
Email us at [email protected] for help.
Featured Column of the Week
In other news, the same month that a massive $9.90 per month rate hike took effect, the Public Utilities Commission approved a future rate hike for CMP to recoup storm costs over the objection of the Public Advocate, who questioned the prudence of some of the expenses claimed by CMP and CMP brought Joseph Purington, the president of Eversource, on as the new President and CEO. Coincidentally, Eversource was the company behind the Northern Pass in New Hampshire.
Purington has promised to restore customer trust and move the company forward. Please forgive me for being more than a little skeptical.
Activist of the Week
This week, we’re recognizing David Cowan of Lisbon as our activist of the week. David was instrumental to our Androscoggin County signature gathering efforts for both referendums, and his tenacity for our cause has only strengthened since then. During the Skowhegan fair, he volunteered for an impressive 6 shifts at our booth! We are so fortunate to have volunteers like David who are willing to help us in this capacity. Please join us in thanking David for always being up for the task and for doing more than his part to help us spread the word that a YES vote on Question 1 rejects the CMP Corridor this November.
The Farmington Fair is just around the corner! Please consider signing up for a shift today to help us greet fairgoers at this important event using the signup link below. Select your availability and our Volunteer Coordinator Cara Sacks will be in touch with more details! Questions? Email Cara at [email protected].
Farmington Fair - Sept. 19th-25th
Common Ground Fair - Sept. 24th-26th
Cumberland Fair - Sept. 26th-Oct.2nd
Fryeburg Fair - Oct. 3rd-10th
Finally, if you haven’t yet received a fancy sticker that fits nicely on a cell phone case, please consider donating today and we will set you up with a shiny new sticker.
To donate securely online, click below. To donate by check, mail a check payable to No CMP Corridor to PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04938.
That’s all for this week, friends! Thank you all for continuing to be an inspiration. Let’s keep our collective effort pushing through to the November 2nd vote to ban the CMP Corridor once and for all.
Director, No CMP Corridor