Recently, Lyn St-Laurent, the spokesperson for Hydro-Quebec, was interviewed on a Maine radio station to promote the CMP Corridor and cast doubt on Question 1, a referendum initiated by more than 80,000 Maine voters. As a representative of a foreign government-owned company, her comments were filled with half-truths and highly misleading.
Not once did she mention that Hydro-Quebec (HQ) stands to make $12.5 billion from this contract with Massachusetts, or that, because it is a Crown Corporation, a handsome portion of these profits would go directly to the taxpayers in another country, as opposed to Mainers, who will sacrifice a whole lot and get next to nothing in return.
During the interview, Ms. St-Laurent spoke extensively about the cost savings that Mainers could see from a deal HQ struck with Governor Mills behind closed doors, but she didn’t break it down to just how much this deal is worth for you. There’s a very good reason for this approach, since it’s worth a maximum of just 12 cents per Mainer per month, a savings that won’t even begin to make a dent in the $9.90/month rate increase for CMP that came into effect this month.
She also spoke about how this project has met every milestone without mention of the fact that Justice Michaela Murphy recently vacated CMP’s illegal lease to bisect our public lands with this destructive corridor, or that the DEP is in the process of potentially suspending the entire permit since the corridor route doesn’t connect at this time.
Ms. St-Laurent also repeated one of CMP’s go-to talking points which is that two-thirds of the corridor be constructed along existing lines. The remaining third would permanently fragment the last great standing forest east of the Mississippi River with a clear cut that is roughly the same as the distance from Portland to Augusta.
This summer, I traveled up to Johnson Mountain Township, which is in the heart of the first third of the route to see for myself what was going on up there. What I saw can only be described as a scar on an otherwise beautiful landscape. In her interview, Ms. St-Laurent bragged about the fact that the DEP made this project even “better” by narrowing the corridor in this remote part of our state to protect wildlife corridors and deer wintering yards. She neglected to mention the fact that the DEP recently confirmed my finding that, while this clear cut is permitted to be 54 feet wide, it’s actually 100 feet wide and it will continue to get wider during the next phase of construction. The clear cut is nearly twice as wide as CMP is advertising because the tapering condition that was meant to provide this critical protection simply can’t be met due to the even age of the forest.
During my visit, I measured clear cuts that exceeded 100 feet wide. If we don’t stop this project, critical wildlife habitat, native brook trout habitat and scenic vistas will forever be destroyed — all so Hydro-Quebec and CMP, another foreign-owned corporation, can make billions.
There were many other falsehoods and unproven climate claims that were repeated during Ms. St-Laurent’s interview, and I am sure that we will all hear them many more times before we finally have the chance to vote since Hydro-Quebec has already secured more than $2 million in television ad time ahead of the November 2nd election. That is in addition to the $2.5 million in television ads this foreign government-owned corporation has already financed.
Finally, I’d be remiss not to note that Hydro-Quebec is only permitted to electioneer here because of a loophole in Maine’s election law that, thanks to an ill-informed veto by the governor, hasn’t yet been fixed. Hydro-Quebec, as a foreign government-owned company, isn’t allowed to spend money to influence Mainers in any other type of election, and they aren’t even permitted to spend money to influence voters in their own country.
So the next time you view an ad paid for by Hydro-Quebec, or hear one of their employees on the radio, please keep this in mind: If a foreign government works this hard to convince you that something is good for you, proceed with extreme caution.
This November, I hope you will join me in voting yes on Question 1 to reject the greatest environmental scam of our time. Let’s stop the CMP Corridor, and instead seek out real climate solutions that protect the way life should be.
Sen. Richard A. Bennett (R-Oxford), a former President of the Maine Senate, represents 13 towns in Cumberland and Oxford Counties.