U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, is calling on the Biden administration to revisit a controversial presidential permit for a hydropower transmission project.
In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the congressman said he has "concerns" about the 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect project and requested a review of a federal permit granted by former President Donald Trump only weeks before he left office. He said the permit was granted without a thorough environmental review or input from the public.
"Given the anticipated impacts that this new transmission line will have on Maine's forest and wetland ecosystems, as well as the communities along the route, it is troubling that the permit was granted by the previous administration," Golden wrote.
Central Maine Power’s $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect calls for providing up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England region.
The project has cleared several regulatory hurdles, including approval by Maine's Land Use Planning Commission and state Department of Environmental Protection. In November, it was granted a permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In January, the project was granted a presidential permit that will allow the transmission line to cross the Canadian border.
The consortium behind the project say it will provide clean energy for the New England region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are contributing to a warming planet. Supporters have pointed to the potential to bring jobs to the area.
“Two hundred seventy-five Maine residents are already on the job building this project," said Jon Breed, executive director of Clean Energy Matters, a group created to support the project, in February. "The last thing we should be doing in the middle of a global pandemic is issuing more pink slips to Mainers because fossil fuel companies don’t like competing with renewable energy."
Opponents such as the No CMP Corridor PAC, a coalition of environmental groups opposed to the project, say the project would carve through scenic swathes of untouched forest in the North Maine Woods and lead to a loss of jobs and recreational tourism. The group has gathered enough signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot to block the project.
"Regardless of how you feel about the NECEC Corridor, that's just wrong," she said in a statement. "Hopefully the new administration will choose to right this wrong."