Rep. Grohoski OpEd: Let’s talk about the CMP Corridor

The Ellsworth American

You’ve probably noticed that the volume is turned way up on Ballot Question 1 as we hurtle toward Election Day on Nov. 2. Many constituents have approached me with questions like “I don’t like the CMP Corridor, but what about the climate?” or “Will other businesses be affected?” or “What does a ‘yes’ vote do?” There’s a lot of noise out there coming from the unprecedented spending by foreign corporations — so much, in fact, that it is hard for Maine people to hear each other. So, I’d like to speak to you, Mainer to Mainer, and share with you what I have learned as a member of the Legislature’s energy committee who has researched this subject for three years.

First, there is the damage to Maine’s environment to consider. The CMP Corridor will cut 53 miles of new, permanent transmission line corridor through undeveloped forests in western Maine, negatively affecting critical brook trout habitat, deer wintering areas and migration routes. The Upper Kennebec region is a truly unique place that will be scarred permanently by this project, all for the sake of Massachusetts’s policy goals.

Second, CMP cannot be trusted. Its corporate lobbyists have testified against renewable energy legislation for years, but now they claim to be climate leaders. They are not building this project to save the planet. They are building it for profit.

Third, hydropower facilities of this enormity do not generate clean energy, which is why the state of Maine is not legally allowed to use Hydro-Quebec’s power to meet its own clean energy requirements. Impacts of these massive impoundments in Quebec include:

  • Methane emissions with climate-warming effects similar to natural gas-fired electricity generators.
  • Destruction of boreal forest, wetland and peatland ecosystems, which store a significant amount of carbon.
  • Significant disruption of spring runoff, which affects nutrient concentrations and water temperatures, making both downstream freshwater and saltwater ecosystems uninhabitable for many species.

So what about Massachusetts’s laudable clean energy goals? The CMP Corridor is not the only option it has to respond to the climate crisis. The state received 46 bids from developers in response to its clean energy request for proposals; the CMP Corridor was likely selected as the cheapest option. Because Massachusetts is required by law to procure a certain amount of clean energy, it will do so. In fact, some of the other proposals include true clean energy generated in Maine, which would create local jobs, both in initial construction and maintenance. That would be better than flooding the New England electric grid with cheap hydropower that will crowd out Maine’s ability to participate in America’s fastest growing job sector.

You may be wondering if voting “Yes on 1” to reject the CMP Corridor will hurt other businesses through the retroactive provisions. Despite the ads you may have seen from CMP and Hydro-Quebec, the Legislature already has the authority to pass retroactive laws — that power would not be established by the pending ballot question.

So, what does the ballot question do? Three things:

  • It clarifies that building a new transmission line through public lands in the state of Maine is a substantial alteration of the land use and thus requires legislative approval to align with the existing requirements of the Maine Constitution in Article IX, Section 23. This portion of the ballot question applies retroactively to the date that the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands granted a lease to CMP to use public lands without legislative approval, which the courts later found to be illegal. Basically, it holds CMP accountable for its role in breaking the law.
  • It requires that certain high-impact transmission lines be approved by majority vote of the Legislature. It does not require approval for lines built for reliability purposes, meaning, to keep the lights on. This requirement is retroactive to the date the ballot question was publicly initiated by Maine citizens (Sept. 16, 2020) and applies only to projects that had not yet begun construction. Essentially, starting construction after that date, as CMP has done, does not pre-empt the right of citizens to vote on this subject and have the results matter.
  • It prohibits construction of such power lines in the Upper Kennebec region of Somerset and Franklin counties. The same retroactivity described in number 2 above applies.

Voting “yes” on Question 1 stops construction of the CMP Corridor. The negative impacts of this for-profit transmission line are straightforward and significant. Please join me in voting “yes” on Question 1 to reject the CMP Corridor.

Democratic Rep. Nicole Grohoski is serving her second term in the Maine House, representing the people of Ellsworth and Trenton. A member of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, she has been a vocal advocate for affordable, reliable and clean electricity.

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  • Kurt Emerson
    commented 2021-10-26 19:13:41 -0400
    No on question #1¡!¡! Why you ask? Because we are heading towards electrification. If we have to switch to electric cars, we need a THREE HUNDRED PERCENT increase in power generation and transmission. The selfishness across the country regarding powerlines is RIDICULOUS!!! We all know what they are. Most of us have ridden trails using the powerlines. A single swath 150 foot wide is not going to affect the environment permanently or eliminate any species. There’s a cost to everyone, directly in the wallet creating difficulty for infrastructure projects. Pick your battles, blocking grid improvement when we need massive grid improvement and generation capacity is not helpful. Improvement of the electrical grid and clean power generation is beneficial to the human race. You can’t block reality. We MUST HAVE a Grid and EVERYONE knows it is in dire need of improvement and updating. Let’s not be ignorant and follow California’s lead. California has taken the position of promoting electric vehicles and public transportation while simultaneously closing down a large portion of powerplants. Hmm 🤔, what did they get for their efforts? Rolling blackouts for everyone, how awesome is that? Forest fires? Yes! They have blocked construction of powerlines with the highest electricity rates in the country being directly related to the action of the Government. The grid is overloaded and causing the MAJORITY of the forest fires. Why? Overloading the transmission lines causes heat and failure points. The completely inept Government is trying to sue the electric company for causing the fires. They are so pretensious I want to vomit. Pointing the finger at anyone besides the real culprit, the leaders. Anyone and everyone reading this knows we need massive grid improvement and it’s a prime target for an attack. A strategically placed EMP on a maxed out grid could blow every transformer from Quebec city to Philadelphia. It all comes down to this, everyone in the country needs power that is delivered via powerlines. Massachusetts allows the cheap Natural Gas to reach us. We need to let CLEAN HYDROPOWER go through our state to reach them. High power transmission lines will create 1000s of MAINE jobs. I don’t care if the winning bid is a Corporation from Japan. Do you actually think they can import the workers? They will have a massive hiring campaign and the workers will all come from New England. Even when it’s finished, 100s of permanent high paying jobs will remain as long as the power is on. I don’t know who is behind the massive campaign to block the powerlines, but it has nothing to do with Mainers or the environment. It’s all about the Benjamin’s. Some Corporation somewhere stands to lose 100s of millions. They are trying to avoid the loss with this BS dog 🐕 and pony 🐎 show. Personally I’m tired of Corporate manipulation of the people. We can’t let them continuously screw us for a profit. Vote NO on question #1, stop letting them take advantage of you. If you want to know who is behind the multi million dollar campaign to block the powerlines? Follow the money.
  • Sandra Howard
    published this page in News 2021-10-26 15:33:18 -0400