by Ramona du Houx
October 16, 2019 (Augusta, ME)
As Central Maine Power’s (CMP) controversial transmission corridor proposal continues to face delays and growing public opposition, Congressman Jared Golden issued a strong letter of concern this morning to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The letter highlights the Army Corps’ lack of transparency in its permitting process for the CMP corridor and its failure to respond to numerous requests by Maine residents for a public hearing.
To address the Army Corps’ failure to respond to the public concerns, Congressman Golden asked Colonel William Conde, in the Corps’ New England District office, to: 1) provide all communications with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the project, which the Army Corps has refused to release to the public without a formal Freedom of Information Act request; and 2) hold at least one public hearing on this project in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
“I am concerned that your agency has denied repeated requests from my constituents for a public hearing. It is critical that Mainers are able to provide input and voice their opinions about the permitting of a project that will have significant environmental and economic consequences for their communities,” stated Congressman Golden.
"While the other CA-to-MA lines have had hearings, CMP’s has not. It is disturbing that presidential and Army Corps permits are even being considered under such circumstances," said Maine State Rep. Seth Berry, who serves as House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy.
Congressman Golden highlighted an April 25, 2019 letter from the EPA to the Army Corps. This letter raised numerous environmental problems with the project and concerns regarding the Corps’ failure to provide Mainers with a complete permit application from CMP to allow for informed public comment. Since that letter was submitted, CMP has changed its project yet again, and the Army Corps still won’t provide access to an updated and complete application.
“As Congressman Golden noted in his letter, similar projects in Vermont and New Hampshire provided significantly greater levels of public engagement and Mainers deserve the same level of respect and participation,” said Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). “The lack of transparency on the part of the Army Corps is both unacceptable and disrespectful of the strong concerns that Maine people have about this project. They are a public agency deliberating on a project that would harm Maine’s environment and economy for decades to come. The federal government should not be making decisions about the CMP corridor behind closed doors.”
More than 20 towns in Maine have voted to rescind support or oppose the CMP corridor, and residents have started a signature gathering process to place a citizen-initiated question about the CMP corridor on the ballot.