By Ramona du Houx January 23, 2021 More than 100,000 raw signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office on January 21, 2021 to qualify for a referendum against the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor that plans to connect Canada to Massachusetts with a electricity line through Maine. Despite the COVID pandemic, the campaign was able to collect more […]
By Ramona du Houx
January 23, 2021
More than 100,000 raw signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office on January 21, 2021 to qualify for a referendum against the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor that plans to connect Canada to Massachusetts with a electricity line through Maine. Despite the COVID pandemic, the campaign was able to collect more signatures, with more Mainers collecting in more communities, over a shorter span of time than last year.
The 2020 effort resulted in the Maine Supreme Court deciding against the Stop CMP effort, despite the wishes of the voters of Maine.
The proposed CMP corridor would destroy pristine Maine wilderness in places where many people have chosen to live in the surroundings of uninterrupted natural surroundings. They voted against the proposal in their towns, and still the process was streamlined by the Maine State government.
Here’s what Rep. Seth Berry has to say about issue, and the referendum signatures being delivered to the Sec. of State:
With these signatures to stop the corridor, Maine people send a strong and clear message to the foreign governments and big banks who own CMP and Hydro Quebec. Our message is this: We know why you’re here, we know what you’re selling, and we’re not buying it.
Maine people know this: the CMP corridor is a bad deal for Maine. It is unjust. It is destructive. It is unconstitutional. And it is a climate shell game, doing nothing to address the climate emergency we all urgently face. And I have news for you, Iberdrola: No amount of spin, or advertising, or glossy PR from you, or Avangrid, or CMP will keep Maine people from the truth. Your climate claims are a climate con game.
For three decades, I have been convinced that the climate crisis is the most dire emergency facing all of humanity. It is the top reason I first ran for office in 2006, and it remains my top priority today.
When the Maine PUC and other regulators looked at the climate impact of the corridor, they focused on the impact to the New England region — not the global impact. Now it’s true that if you redirect Quebec hydro to New England, you might well reduce New England’s GHG emissions. But as every Mainer knows: there is no free lunch. For every kWh sent south, there will be a kWh worth of fossil fuels burned to the north. That shift and shaft is what makes this a climate shell game, rigged for profit and not for people or the planet. And in this latest CMP con game, we — the people of Maine — are the country bumpkins they hope to deceive once again.
Tackling the climate crisis correctly presents incredible opportunities for our state. With solutions like solar, offshore wind, storage, and efficiency, we can create jobs for Maine people and keep more of our money here in Maine.
14 years ago, I began my service on the legislature’s Energy Committee here in Augusta. For four years, I have chaired that committee. Over those fourteen years, I have watched CMP spend millions to oppose real, Maine-based climate solutions. They have opposed rooftop solar and community solar. They have opposed efficiency. More than any other entity, Central Maine Power has been the greatest obstacle to our clean energy future. And now, with greenwashing and astroturfing, they want you to think they care about climate.
Our energy independence, our energy future, is not a thing to be outsourced or entrusted to multinational monopolies. No. It is a challenge to be met on Maine terms: through Yankee thrift and self-reliance, Yankee ingenuity and independence. Mainers understand this. So we the people of Maine will NOT short circuit our own clean energy potential.
We will say YES to rejecting the CMP Corridor, YES to our own energy security and clean energy job creation, and YES to an energy future that is of the people of Maine, for the people of Maine and by the people of Maine.
The effort to stop the CMP Corridor is bipartisan. Senator Rick Bennett (R) is a veteran lawmaker who once ran for governor. This is his statement:
When 100,000 Maine people speak so clearly, those in power need to listen.
Today we open a new front in our fight to control our own destiny. We are exercising our Constitutional right to make laws directly when our leaders have failed us. And it is important to note that all three branches of our government have failed us – two Governors, the Legislature and the Maine Supreme Court, in striking down the earlier initiative before it even had a vote.
Indeed, the Court should be put on notice that their continued overreach into legislative power will not be tolerated. Article IV, Part Third, of our State Constitution invests the power to make laws in two places – the elected Legislature and the people ourselves. There is no distinction: if it is inappropriate for the Court to take action on a bill before it’s enacted by the Legislature, it is equally inappropriate for them to take action on an Initiative before it is voted by the people.
Further, our State has granted a monopoly franchise to CMP to operate transmission and distribution of power in much of Maine. CMP has abused that franchise. And CMP and its Spanish owners have lied to the people of Maine – about the Corridor’s clean energy benefits, about the number of jobs created. This project is worth $3 billion to CMP and $12.4 billion to Hydro-Quebec, both foreign-owned corporations. Mainers would be wise to view their claims with skepticism.
If CMP moves forward again to try to block the overwhelming opposition of their customers and build this Corridor, they will have rendered the company unworthy of the franchise and the public trust.
The government of Quebec should take note as well. Through their wholly owned subsidiary, Hydro-Quebec, this foreign government has acted with hypocrisy and hostility to the people of Maine, its neighbor. As legislators and volunteer signature gatherers, we find this direct foreign involvement to influence the outcome of elections in Maine appalling.
Under Maine law, it is illegal for a foreign government to directly interfere in the election of a candidate for office. Unfortunately, our law doesn’t extend to referendum efforts, which is how Hydro-Quebec has managed to funnel nearly $10 million into a PAC to influence Maine voters last year. Absurdly, this sort of foreign interference is illegal in Quebec.
Hydro-Quebec’s main mission isn’t to save our environment from global warming. In fact, six of its reservoirs are ranked in the top quarter of the world’s biggest carbon emitting hydro facilities.
And Hydro-Quebec doesn’t want Mainers to know about its questionable ethics in its dealings with the First Nations tribes. But the stories have begun to emerge of the unconscionable practices Hydro-Quebec has engaged in for decades to illegally flood ancestral lands without compensation or consent, in direct violation of the constitutional rights of the tribes who occupy those lands.
The truth boils down to this: the Corridor has nothing to do with combating global warming. It is a for-profit project that will flood our New England grid with environmentally and ethically dirty energy, all in service to Massachusetts. And all while making two foreign corporations billions upon billions of dollars, while lining the pockets of some politically-connected Mainers.
It is time for the people of Maine to speak. And it is well past the time for our leaders to listen.