Re: the March 19 Maine Voices column about Central Maine Power’s push for transmission lines through Maine to bring Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts:

An issue that troubles me is the statement (often repeated in the Portland Press Herald) that Canadian hydropower is clean, renewable energy. Large-scale hydropower cannot truly be considered clean and renewable energy.

First of all, researchers have found that large-scale hydro floods huge areas of the best land in the northern climate – river valleys that are home to the most diverse plant and animal life in the region. The resulting reservoirs are not the same as natural rivers or lakes. They become contaminated with methylmercury, poisoning the fish and any who eat them. Methane gas is emitted from the decomposition of flooded plant life. And because of silt buildup, the dams may not last more than several decades.

Secondly, these dams are being built in the territories of indigenous Cree, Innu and Inuit peoples, with a destructive effect on their culture, lifestyle, food sources, hunting and fishing, burial sites and, ultimately, their sovereignty. The La Grande project was built in the 1970s without any consultation with the Cree or Inuit; later projects have been and still are initiated without giving any true choice to the people who have lived along these rivers for millenniums.

We know that Gov. LePage is not interested in renewable energy. Nor is he concerned with the rights and sovereignty of indigenous peoples, as witnessed in this government’s actions toward the Penobscot people and their river. But the rest of us who live in Maine must be better than that. We should support true renewable energy, and also support the human rights of indigenous people both here and in the lands to the north.

Rev. Myke Johnson


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