Voting no on Maine’s ballot Question 1

Voting no on the referendum allows the project to continue without going back to the legislature.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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Maine (WABI) - On November 2nd, Mainers will have the chance to vote on a citizens initiative to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect project, effectively known as the CMP Corridor.

“It is a project that provides for access from Quebec to our New England grid, passing through Maine, that offers economic opportunity in terms of employment, tax base, catalysts for other things that depend on power to come to our state,” said President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce Dana Connors.

Voting no on the referendum allows the project to continue without going back to the legislature.

The question calls for a two-thirds approval from lawmakers on high impact projects like this one that use public lands.

Connors says the project holds tremendous promise for the state of Maine.

“The Constitution says it, if it doesn’t substantially alter, then it doesn’t require that two thirds vote. It doesn’t substantially alter. It’s not for conservation or recreation, so that’s an important point that seems to be lost in the debate. The Bureau of Public Lands, when they issued the lease, did so in my opinion, our opinion, to the letter of what was intended in that law,” Connors said. “Remember this, the economy grows when investments are made.”

When looking at the environmental impact, the director of Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs says the corridor could result in a three million ton reduction in annual carbon emissions.

He says the Department of Environmental Protection found climate change to be the single greatest threat to Maine’s natural environment.

They say the 1000 acre impact to build the corridor is worth the trade for this reduction.

“And just to put that into context, the reduction of three million tons of carbon emissions is the equivalent of removing 700,000 passenger vehicles from the road. It’s an enormous benefit,” Dudley said.

Dudley says this brings a large amount of clean, affordable energy and hydro electricity to Maine.

“That will reduce prices in Maine to the tune of up to $496 million over the course of a 20 year contract,” Dudley said.

Voting no on the referendum eliminates the retroactive nature of the question that requires the legislature to approve similar projects going back to 2014 by a two-thirds vote.

Some say could harm Mainers for years to come.

Adrienne Bennett is the spokesperson for Mainers for Fair Laws.

She says this sets a terrible precedent for business moving forward and trusting that regulatory processes work like they should.

“We know as kids growing up, playing games, we know the rules, you know, before going in, and we don’t change the rules halfway through the game, or even after the game. In this case, they’re changing the rules after the game,” Bennett said.

No matter what happens at the polls next Tuesday, there are still issues to play out in court.

A judge in August ruled that Maine’s Bureau of Public Lands did not have the authority to grant a lease for the one mile stretch of public land needed for the project.

CMP has appealed that ruling to the Maine Supreme Court.

If you missed any of the “Yes on One” story you can find it here.

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