On Tuesday, November 2, Mainers will head to the polls in an off-year election cycle to vote on local and state ballot measures, including a high-profile referendum question that would ban a major transmission line corridor already under construction by Central Maine Power.
According to Ballotpedia, as of early September, supporters of the measure had spent more than $7.4 million, and those who oppose the measure had spent more than $34 million.
When Mainers receive their ballots in November, Question 1 will read:
“Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”
The referendum question was initiated by citizens, who collected more than 80,000 signatures, sending the law proposal to the Maine Legislature. But the Legislature did not act on the measure and sent it to the voters in the November ballot.
The question stems from opposition to what is known as the New England Clean Energy Connect, or NECEC, a hydropower project stretching from the Quebec/Maine border to New Hampshire. While the majority of the project leans on existing power lines, new lines would be added from the Canadian border through The Forks in Maine.
In short, a "Yes” vote on Question 1 supports a ban on the construction of electric transmission lines defined as high impact in the Upper Kennebec Region, including the NECEC.
It would also require the state legislature to approve high-impact electric transmission line projects through a two-thirds majority vote.
A "No" vote on question one opposes a ban and supports allowing the construction of the NECEC project to continue.
It would also mean the state legislature would not be required to approve high-impact electric transmission line projects moving forward.
Permits have been approved for the project and construction is already underway. However, because this question includes a need for "retroactive" approval, if the "Yes" campaign wins, a two-thirds majority in the Legislature would be required to approve the NECEC and other similar projects that passed in the last seven years.
You can make your voice heard at the polls on November 2nd or request your absentee ballots now.
Another part of this issue is already playing out in the courts. A judge ruled last month that the Bureau of Public Lands violated the constitution when it issued permits in 2014 and again in 2020 to allow CMP to lease a mile of public land for the corridor. CMP has appealed that decision.