FARMINGDALE — In a letter published June 6, Hydro-Quebec’s Serge Abergel claimed their electrical power is clean by presenting their own self-serving studies.  Other unbiased sources tell a very different story.

Hydro-Quebec has a long history of creating environmental disasters. In 1984, a New York Times story headlined “Thousands of caribous die in Quebec rivers” describes 22,000 caribou being killed while swimming during their annual migration below one of Hydro-Quebec’s mega dams. Herds of caribou across Canada’s north have declined ever since Canadian megadams have disrupted their migration routes.

An independent 2016 Harvard study projected that the impact of the bioaccumulative neurotoxin methylmercury at 22 Canadian hydroelectric facilities being considered for development would create a 10-fold increase in riverine methylmercury and more than double the methylmercury in surface waters.

Canada’s First Nation indigenous people have been vocal about the harm done by electricity from Hydro-Quebec projects: It destroys rivers and their ecosystems, poisons the ecosystems with methylmercury, adds to climate change by emitting methane, destroys fisheries in fragmented rivers, displaces people from their homeland flooded by dams and destroys habitat of native animals and birds, which creates major environmental justice issues. Iberdrola’s electricity from Hydro-Quebec’s “deal with the devil” power comes with all those costs. It is unethical, dirty power.

Mainers learned about hydro’s “deal with the devil” over 30 years ago, when an Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build a megadam complex on the St. John River failed. Dickey-Lincoln would have flooded 86,000 acres of the St. John Valley, displacing 159 families. The Natural Resources Council of Maine gathered over 50,000 signatures in opposition. Political support collapsed after then-Gov. James Longley voiced his opposition, followed by the withdrawal of support by then-Sen. George Mitchell, who said he could no longer “in good conscience” support the project. The flooded homes, destruction of two rivers and impact on the endangered Furbish lousewort were more than Maine’s political leaders and public would put up with.

At the same time another major dam, at Big Ambejackmockamus Falls on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, was proposed by Great Northern Paper Co. The dam was to produce power for the Millinocket mill. It set off a major debate in Maine. The millworkers wanted power to “protect their jobs and mill-town ‘habitat.’ ” The Penobscot Coalition of 12 Maine environmental and sports groups worked together to oppose the project, successfully fighting Great Northern Paper’s proposal through the state’s permitting process. In the end, Great Northern Paper withdrew their proposal after state permits required the company to provide jobs for Maine workers. Great Northern Paper clearly had other plans for the Penobscot’s power because shortly thereafter, Great Northern Paper sold the upstream McKay station and closed their Millinocket mill.

Now once again the people of the state of Maine have collected petition signatures and our state’s highest court has endorsed a statewide referendum to be held on Nov. 3 on a proposal to overturn regulators’ approval of Iberdrola/Central Maine Power’s plan to bring Hydro-Quebec’s dirty electricity through Maine. This proposal is inconsistent with Maine ethics, how Maine treats its people and our rivers.

Driving across Spencer and Gold Brook roads from Route 201 to Route 27, you are as close as you can drive to New England Clean Energy Connect’s route through one of the wildest pieces left in Maine. NECEC’s proposed route would destroy one of the last truly wild places with intact ecosystems left in Maine. That’s too much for Maine to lose.

If Massachusetts really wants Hydro-Quebec’s dirty, “deal with the devil” power, it needs to go through the already-permitted and approved Vermont route. Unlike NECEC’s route through Maine, Vermont has offered no opposition to its New England Clean Power Link.


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