AUGUSTA – Those against the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect Project, or the CMP (Central Maine Power) transmission line, believe they have enough signatures (75,000 of them) to put the project before Maine voters.
Monday people from all over the state and all ends of the political spectrum gathered to drop off the petition.
“We had registered Maine voters from over 400 towns sign our petition from Kittery to Fort Kent,” said Sandi Howard, the director of “Say No to NECEC”.
The 145 mile hydroelectric power line would move power from Quebec to Massachusetts, by building through western Maine.
Project leaders said it would create more than a thousand jobs, bring in tax revenue, and fight climate change.
“The amount of carbon that will be pulled out of the atmosphere related to this project is equivalent to building a new forest the size of Vermont,” said Thorn Dickinson, the vice president of business development at Avangrid.
Some who live and work near the North Maine Woods worry what building through the area will do to its natural beauty and eco-tourism.
“I spent the last twenty years building snowmobile trails, a whole infrastructure for outdoor recreation…to watch this thing happen, it’s unacceptable,” said Peter Dostie, a West Forks resident and business owner.
Governor Janet Mills who has supported the power line declined to comment Monday.
Project leaders said next they’re working on getting approval from the Maine DEP.
“Many of the arguments the opposition’s using have been dismissed or denied,” said Dickinson. “We look forward to continuing that conversation.”
Opponents said the referendum would ask voters if they want the Maine Public Utilities Commission to revoke the permit they gave CMP, meaning the project can’t continue. The secretary of state has about a month to review the signatures before it makes the ballot.