(The Center Square) – Maine voters will be asked in November to decide the fate of a hydropower transmission project, a proposal to protect the 'right to grow food' and a plan to authorize the state to borrow money for infrastructure upgrades.
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has certified three referendums for the Nov. 2 ballot after supporters of the measures cleared several hurdles and turned in the required number of signatures.
Topping the list of referendums is Question 1, which was added to the ballot by opponents of 145-mile hydropower transmission project they say will carve through miles of untouched Maine forests.
The referendum will ask voters: "Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to vote on other such projects in Maine retroactive to 2014, with a two-thirds vote required if a project uses public lands?"
A similar referendum was knocked off the ballot last year by the state Supreme Judicial Court.
Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect project calls for providing up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England region.
The companies backing the project, which recently got underway, say it will create jobs, help green the power grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are contributing to climate change.
Opponents say the project would cut through scenic swathes of untouched forest in the North Maine Woods and lead to a loss of jobs and recreational tourism.
Both sides have waged a costly and bitter public relations war for years over the details of the project, and whether it will negatively impact the state and its ratepayers.