Supporters and opponents of CMP's proposed transmission line clash in Augusta

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - People for and against Central Maine Power's proposed 145-mile power transmission line that would bring power from Quebec through Maine to Massachusetts made their feelings known in Augusta Friday during a pubic hearing for a proposed bill dealing with the project.

The bill would call for the Department of Environmental Protection to create a report on the effect on greenhouse gas emissions the New England Clean Energy Connect would have.

Supporters of the bill say it will hold CMP accountable.

"Why should we have a 150-feet gash cut through 53 miles of our North Woods for a shell game that CMP and HydroQuebec are going to use to make a lot of money for them but which is going to supply no greenhouse gas emissions reductions whatsoever," said Nick Bennett, Staff Scientist for Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Opponents of the bill say the project has already gone through all of the standard permitting.

"Our main point is this has already been evaluated within the PUC process," said Thorn Dickinson, Vice President of Business Development for Avangrid Networks. "There's a lot of uncertainty around the bill, and our fear is that uncertainty will create a delay on the ability of this project to deliver these clean energy benefits to help reduce the impact of climate change."

"We believe that this bill, while good-intentioned, undermines the goal of reaching carbon neutrality in the region by mid-century," said Benjamin Dudley, Director of Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs. "Not only that, it undermines an opportunity for the state to realize a billion dollar economic gain."

A group of people who are in opposition to the transmission line gathered for a rally after the hearing.

"We are here gathering on the Ides of March -- the day that Brutus betrayed Julius Caesar," said Sandi Howard, Director of Say NO to NECEC. "And many Mainers feel as though Governor Mills has betrayed the public will of wanting to oppose the proposed corridor, CMP corridor."

The bill will be worked on in committee before it goes for a full vote.