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Deep State: Why the Deeply Unpopular CMP Power-Line Corridor Through the North Woods May Nevertheless Be Built

Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:53 AM
 

Whether CMP’s giant transmission line should be built through the Maine North Woods — a policy question — is being debated widely. But less has been publicly discussed about the politics of the battle. Who’s fighting whom, and who’s likely to win? That’s the subject of this two-part series.

PART ONE:

Not the usual opponents

Last week the state Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Central Maine Power Co.’s plan to cut a huge, high-voltage transmission-line corridor southeast from the Canadian border through 53 miles of the North Woods near Jackman. The corridor would be 150 feet wide but eventually could be doubled in width.

The line would then extend its 95-foot towers for another 92 miles south along existing, widened CMP rights-of-way to connect to the New England power grid at Lewiston. It would bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts. ...


In the background on this issue, CMP itself is unpopular because of months of questionable electric bills sent to thousands of customers that have resulted in PUC investigations and a lawsuit alleging fraud. Many customers also have felt the company’s responses to power outages have been inadequate. Reacting to these criticisms, CMP has apologized a little and denied a lot. A recent Bangor Daily News report revealed that the billing problems are continuing.

Hardly adding to its popularity, CMP is no longer CMP, in the sense that it has become a possession of the global corporate giant Iberdrola, headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. ...

A sore point also is that Maine would get none of the new power from Canada, though the state might benefit if the project lowers the price of electricity in New England by replacing higher-priced fossil-fuel plants. Plus, after demands from various interest groups and state officials, CMP agreed during the PUC proceedings to provide $258 million worth of miscellaneous benefits to Maine people over 40 years. ...

Business versus environmentalists?

This battle is not typical. Both the business community and environmentalists are divided. ...

Republicans versus Democrats?

James Melcher, a political-science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said the corridor issue “doesn’t break down in a clean line” between liberals and conservatives. That’s an understatement. For an environmental issue, to have 71 percent of Republicans oppose the project statewide, as the Critical Insights poll found, compared to 56 percent of Democrats, is nothing short of startling. ...

Urban versus rural?

Professor Melcher told me he felt “an awful lot” of the opposition “has to do with the energy going to Massachusetts.” And many people “don’t like the aesthetics” of a giant power line in the North Woods.

These are factors, for sure, but the fact that there’s such deep, bipartisan opposition in rural Franklin and Somerset counties compared to the more urban and suburban southern counties (though it’s unpopular there, too) is revealing of something more profound.

One corridor adversary, Jonathan Carter, the former Green Party candidate for governor — who lives in the shadow of the western mountains near North New Portland — has thoughts on this unusual political fight.

Carter, a botanist, bemoans that environmental battles in Maine and elsewhere are for the most part about development of what’s left of the environment and what trade-offs can be obtained rather than about conservation and preservation. He asks: Why not make more investments to lower electrical consumption? Why not have more public transportation?

“There’s no room for trade-offs anymore,” he said, about global warming — rather than big windmills and transmission lines feeding consumption and destroying the wilds, the forest should be kept as intact as possible because trees massively soak up carbon dioxide. ...

Although in Maine there are development-restriction easements on some of the “working forest,” and we now have the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the society-changing conservation efforts that Carter argues for are not much discussed. No one is asking Massachusetts citizens, for example, to use less energy as an alternative to building the transmission line to feed their energy appetite.

But the rural Maine people so opposed to the corridor unapologetically want to conserve some of what’s left of “the old Maine,” as the gentleman from Yarmouth dismissively put it. They are conservatives in the best sense. Yes, aesthetics is part of it. And maybe in the context of fighting global warming, conservation and preservation are not such bad ideas.

 

TO READ FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE, CLICK LINK BELOW:

 

https://freepressonline.com/Content/Home/Homepage-Rotator/Article/Why-the-Deeply-Unpopular-CMP-Power-Line-Corridor-Through-the-North-Woods-May-Nevertheless-Be-Built/78/720/63870

Portland school budget heads to April 8 board vote

 

PORTLAND — Debate this week could have a significant impact on the proposed $118 million school budget.

The School Board was scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday, after The Forecaster’s deadline. There will also be a joint meeting of the city and school finance committees at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at City Hall, before the School Board votes on the budget next week. ...

During a previous meeting of the city and school finance committees on March 27, Superintendent Xavier Botana said there were several budget drivers in the fiscal year that begins July 1, including an increase in debt service of just over $1 million for the first year of the Lyseth Elementary School renovation project. ...

Both Botana and Anna Trevorrow, chairwoman of the School Board’s Finance Committee, said all of the spending in the proposed budget supports the School Department’s strategic plan, known as the Portland Promise. ...

The council is expected to hold a final vote on the proposed school budget on May 20. That proposal will go to voters for approval in a June 11 referendum.

 

TO READ FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE, CLICK ON LINK BELOW:

 

http://www.theforecaster.net/portland-school-budget-heads-to-april-8-board-vote/

Portland finance officials get first look at proposed school budget

The district's $118 million spending plan would increase the school part of the tax rate by 5.4%.

 

Letter to the Editor: Mills is wrong to try to Eco-balance

Carter Home

 

What a total disappointment that the Mills administration has opted to follow the same old model of compromising the health of Maine's environment away. This is called eco-balancing and it employs the notion that CMP's offer to provide $248 million over 40 years will provide a benefit that is equal to or greater than the negative impacts of the 150 mile transmission line that will deliver “dirty power” from Quebec Hydro.

Mainers should be outraged that CMP is calling Hydro-Quebec power clean renewable power. (simply a lie – beyond fake news) I have visited the source of this power in Northern Quebec. It is a land of utter destruction. Rivers have been reversed and drained in order to create vast power head reservoirs. Thousands of square acres of forests have been destroyed, subsistent Native Canadian hunting and fishing grounds have been submerged, and thousands of caribou drowned. The once mighty Churchill Falls is nothing but a trickle. Canada seems to have ignored the lessons of landscape scale dam construction. More dam construction is planned for northern Quebec and Labrador. Buying this power will only encourage more dam construction.

The horrific landscape destruction, the clear cutting, the creation of flood basins and building of transmission lines all reduce carbon sequestration. In addition, the flooded areas have become huge methane (30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas) emitters from the anaerobic decay of massive amounts of detritus and soil organic compounds. When CMP and Hydro-Quebec say that this project will reduce carbon emissions the equivalent of 280,000 vehicles – it is totally a distortion of the truth. This energy is not clean energy. If allowed to transit Maine, it will mar permanently the Maine forest landscape.

Janet Mills is right when she says "we cannot afford to do nothing," but what she doesn't seem to understand is that if we are serious about mitigating climate change, authorizing a transmission line that will destroy Maine's forest and deliver greenhouse gas producing power to Massachusetts is not the answer. For too long, the status quo has been to deal in trade offs. Every time the environment is compromised there is one half less of healthy ecosphere left. Take the number 1, cut it in half what is left, one half, continue this process just 10 times and only 1/1024 is left. There is no room for compromising anymore – we have lost so much already.

Yes, investing in heat pump technology makes sense as does expanding the use of electric vehicles, but this needs to be accomplished, not as a trade off, but as a legislative action. As far as money for Franklin County communities and the offer of lower electric rates, these are just out and out bribes. In fact, if we are serious about climate change, we should not encourage more electrical consumption by offering lower rates. On the contrary we should be investing in ways to reduce consumption.

The truth be told there is no turning back from the ongoing catastrophic crisis of climate change. We have passed the tipping point and it is virtually impossible to reverse the oncoming changes. What we can do is make intelligent decisions to mitigate more extreme impacts and invest in adaption and survival strategies. The CMP corridor now being endorsed by Mills is taking us in completely the wrong direction.

Study after study has shown that the cheapest and best way to reduce carbon emissions is to protect forests. Over the last several decades there has been an effort to quantify the value of non-market goods and services provided by forests annually – this is often called natural capital. Natural capital’s currency included all ecological service: carbon sequestration, disease regulation, water filtration and purification, flood control, pollinator habitat, nutrient recycling, pest control, soil erosion prevention, air filtration, shade and cooling, and soil formation. Generally speaking half of the natural capital value of forests are related to carbon sequestration and storage in both trees and soils. The other half of the natural capital value is driven by ecological services related to air purification, water quality and water storage (TD Economics & Nature Conservancy of Canada, 2017)

Mills is wrong if she thinks allowing and supporting the destruction of forests in the production and distribution of electricity is sound policy. Her decision to employ the notion of eco-balancing is flawed and will only exacerbate the climate change crisis.

It is not too late for her to reverse course. We must encourage her to think clearly.

Jonathan Carter
Dir. Forest Ecology Network
Former Green Party Candidate for Governor
Lexington Township

 

THIS EDITORIAL WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT:

 

http://www.dailybulldog.com/db/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-mills-is-wrong-to-try-to-eco-balance/

Maine's Libertarians, Greens working together on many issues

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Two third-party political groups in Maine say they are working together on several aspects of their agendas about which they find common ground, including a shared opposition to mandatory vaccination and a desire to cut corporate welfare.

The Green Independent and Libertarian parties of Maine say in a recent joint statement they have "agreed to work together to promote pro-democratic policies and protect individual liberties." The statement includes 10 policy points, including "end regime change wars" and "teach and enforce our Bill of Rights," including new training for law enforcement officers.

The two parties say they are "united in our desire for honesty and integrity in our political system." They say they also "encourage other state parties, and our national parties to follow suit by engaging in mutually respectful dialogue."

 

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE AND WATCH VIDEO:

 

https://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Maines-Libertarians-Greens-working-together-on-many-issues-506923711.html

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