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Noel C. March of Hampden is a former U.S. Marshal.
People who work in law enforcement develop the ability to discern truth from fiction pretty quickly. Some might call it a B.S. detector.
My detector has been going off a lot lately.
As your former U.S. Marshal, I hate deception. Whether from criminals or politicians, I want the facts — the straight truth, not flim-flam or political spin. Unfortunately, we’re getting more of the latter when it comes to the New England Clean Energy Connect.
Forget what you’ve heard and research it yourself. That’s what I did and here’s some of what I learned.
The NECEC will both clean up and protect our environment. We’re talking about clean, renewable hydropower here. The project will reduce carbon emissions in the region by 3 million metric tons. That’s hard to conceptualize, so think about it this way: That’s the same as eliminating the emissions from 650,000 gas-powered cars on Maine roads, which is about half of the non-commercial vehicles registered in Maine.
Ridding Maine’s roads of gas-powered cars is more than just an illustration. One of the benefits to Maine that Gov. Janet Mills secured through her negotiations on the transmission line with Hydro-Québec is $15 million for electric vehicle infrastructure. That means cleaner air for future generations of Mainers.
Like so many Mainers, I’m an outdoorsman. I hike with my family, and I fish with my son. I love Maine’s natural beauty and I cherish our majestic North Woods. Keep all that in mind when I say the idea that the NECEC will harm Maine’s forests is simply not true. Two-thirds of the corridor will travel along existing transmission lines. The rest will be positioned in an area where commercial logging has occurred for over a hundred years and will be only 53 feet wide — approximately the length of a bowling lane.
And clearcutting was one of my biggest concerns, but guess what? There will not be clearcutting. And none of Maine’s untouched public lands will be disturbed.
So why is the anti-corridor campaign spreading so much fearful misinformation about the project? Let’s look at who is funding their campaign. According to news reports, 95 percent of the funding for a recent anti-NECEC petition drive came from oil-and-gas companies in Texas and Florida.
These companies know that Maine is one of the most petroleum-dependent states in the country, and the single most dependent in New England. They like it this way because it allows them to keep electric rates high and turn their dirty fossil fuels into profits; profits so astronomical they’re apparently willing to shell out millions to stop clean, renewable energy from entering Maine homes.
Despite what you’ve been told, the NECEC will deliver electricity from Quebec directly to Maine’s power grid and then directly into Maine homes.
The oil and gas companies don’t want you to know that the NECEC means lower electric costs for Mainers. Specifically, I’ve learned that Maine ratepayers will see $140 million in direct electric rate relief. Low-income Mainers will see an additional $50 million in electric rate relief and Mainers are expected to save over $350 million over the next 15 years. As I said, research it yourself.
The next time you see a television commercial trashing the NECEC, I encourage you to turn up your own B.S. detector, remember who is most likely paying for that ad and just follow the money.
More importantly, remember what’s at stake for Mainers. The NECEC means lower electric costs, and cleaner air for Maine. Research it yourself, there is more to the story.