On this Earth Day weekend, Mainers should take a moment to study the New England Clean Energy Connect corridor project for themselves. If they do so, they’ll realize that it’s a boon for the state, region and Mother Nature herself.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

They’ll also quickly realize that Maine environmentalist groups are being shortsighted and ridiculous by continuing to oppose a project that is designed to transmit clean Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts, across Maine’s western and southern regions via a new high-powered electrical transmission line.

For four years now, since the project was proposed by Central Maine Power in 2017, the project has been bogged down in the regulatory process, thanks to repeated protests by environmentalists dead set on halting a project they say will spoil Maine’s signature remote wilderness.

While some work has already begun on the line, environmental groups have managed to collect enough signatures to bring the project to a statewide referendum vote, which may or may not happen depending on ongoing legal challenges. All told, millions have been spent by both sides trying to convince Mainers of the benefits or perils of the project.

While the legal and political challenges linger on, Massachusetts residents continue using so-called dirty fossil fuels to power their lifestyles while trillions of gallons of water sit in Quebec reservoirs just waiting to be put into service by Hydro-Quebec’s series of massive and impressive dams, some of the largest in the world.

I traveled to Quebec in 2015 and was thoroughly impressed by what lies mere minutes beyond Maine’s north woods. Drive through the border crossing and just a few hours beyond you’ll come to one of the best managed and most beautiful cities in the world: Quebec City. One of the first things you’ll notice on the drive into the city is the massive electrical lines on the horizon.

Since the mid-1900s, Hydro-Quebec has erected 61 hydroelectric generating stations perched on manmade lakes, more than 150,000 miles of transmission lines, all to service 4.4 million customers. The power is 100% renewable, produces no toxic waste and, most importantly, reduces the need for oil, gas and coal, unlike many of America’s power stations.

The dam structures themselves are feats of human engineering, and for the life of me I can’t understand why Maine environmentalists cry about the need for sustainable sources of power while ignoring the opportunity in their own backyard.

These environmentalists need to wake up and grasp this chance to bring their dreams of a fossil fuel-free future to fruition. Instead, so far at least, they’ve been blowing their chance by supporting a referendum drive that would ban the transmission line project through Maine.

They say they want to preserve Maine’s open spaces and prevent an ugly transmission line. Sorry, but that argument seems silly if you want us to believe that climate change could kill off humans in a generation or two, or even 12 years as some environmental wackos claim.

As I said, I’ve been to Quebec and have seen the massive transmission lines and agree with opponents who say they aren’t pretty. It’s true that Maine’s transmission lines will be ugly and unsightly across the 53 miles in western Maine that will need to be constructed.

But if you truly believe global warming is a dire threat to humanity (which I don’t, by the way), an open swath through remote wilderness is the least we can do to bring clean energy to Massachusetts and hopefully Maine and surrounding regions in subsequent years.

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