AUGUSTA — Organizers of the effort to halt the Central Maine Power corridor announced Thursday afternoon they have collected more than 100,000 signatures in less than three months.
Sandi Howard, leader of the No CMP Corridor PAC, Thomas Saviello, a former state legislator, and Darryl Wood, an activist from New Sharon delivered Thursday over 100,000 signatures to Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.
“These signatures reflect a successful citizens’ signature collection effort that overcame challenges posed by winter weather and Covid 19 protocols, ensuring that voters will be able to have the final say on CMP’s unpopular NECEC Corridor later this year,” a press release stated.
"An Act To Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines, Require Legislative Approval of Certain Transmission Lines and Facilities and Other Projects on Public Reserve Lands and Prohibit the Construction of Certain Transmission Lines in the Upper Kennebec Region" will be on the ballot this November, the release stated.
If enacted, the new law will be retroactive and therefore effectively will block the project, per the release.
This referendum, which is three parts would:
Require legislative approval for any high impact electrical transmission line (more than 50 miles). (Retroactive to 9/16/2020)
Put a geographic prohibition on building high impact electrical transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec region. (Retroactive to 9/16/2020)
Reaffirm the Maine Constitution’s requirement that the Legislature approve leases, like CMP's, to cross public lands if they significantly alter the use of those lands. (retroactive to 9/16/2014)
“First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the hundreds of Mainers who have, for a second time, helped us collect enough signatures to hopefully give the people of Maine a vote on the unpopular and destructive NECEC corridor," said Howard. “Collecting signatures during the cold and dark winter months is always a challenge regardless of the circumstances, but with a pandemic that has only escalated, the odds were certainly stacked against us.
“But that didn't stop more than 700 passionate and dedicated Mainers from hitting the pavement in cities, small towns and townships all across this great state to make our mission a reality. The environmental destruction this project would inflict on one of the most special and wild parts of the state is simply unacceptable, and frankly, Mainers don’t trust CMP to act in their best interests.
“Now Mainers will have the opportunity to protect what is theirs at the ballot box with a “YES” vote. CMP and Hydro-Quebec may have a seemingly endless capacity to fund their misinformation campaign, but their money is no match for our dedicated Mainers who know that this is a bad deal for Maine.”
The referendum is expressly retroactive to make sure that it captures legislative intent in existing statutes, per the release.
“Retroactivity is perfectly permissible and establishing the applicable date based on when the petition drive was officially initiated is consistent with previous referenda,” the release noted.
High impact transmission lines were singled out by the Legislature for careful scrutiny in specified areas over a decade ago — nothing new here, said the release. This referendum constitutes a “general law”; it does not single out any specific project, the release stated.
Similarly, the Legislature has historically zoned areas of the state to allow or prohibit various activities — i.e., LUPC (formerly LURC) and the wind power statute, according to the release. Prohibiting a high impact line in the western mountains is consistent with state precedent, the release said.
The Legislature, by vote of the people in adopting a 1993 Constitutional amendment, has retained the power to determine the uses of public lands, making clear that high impact transmission lines and other linear projects on public lands require 2/3 legislative approval as contemplated by the Maine Constitution is well within the Legislature’s power, per the release.