I’m speaking on behalf of Sunrise Movement Franklin County, a Maine group of the national Sunrise Movement, fighting for environmental justice and community resilience. We are a member of Maine Youth for Climate Justice, a coalition of over 400 youth and 15 organizations from across Maine that fight for bold climate action. Both Sunrise Movement Franklin County and Maine Youth for Climate Justice stand firmly in opposition to the Central Maine Power corridor and have worked closely with our community and activists over recent years, informing voters about CMP’s actions and urging them to vote against them in 2021. As youth, we deserve to have a voice in the future of our planet and what a transition to renewable energy will look like.

The vast majority of the Mainers who voted in 2021 agreed with us when they roundly rejected the CMP corridor at the ballot box. Despite this, CMP refuses to give up and has chosen a divisive path that ignores the will of Maine people.

Maine cannot afford to pursue energy projects that do not reflect a holistic understanding of a clean-energy transition and do not center justice as a critical principle. The CMP corridor would hand power over to multinational corporations to control our energy grid and continue to destroy the environment and disrupt communities. We deserve better. The CMP corridor is a “greenwashed” energy source that will not help us attain the clean-energy future we imagine and deserve.

The CMP corridor would have cleared a path through Canadian and Maine forests, permanently altering what is considered to be the largest contiguous tract of undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi. The environmental impacts on wildlife, forests, wetlands and waterways are vast, threatening species that rely on uninterrupted waterways and swathes of forest, including pine marten and brook trout. These environmental impacts are coupled with intense local economic impacts; statewide, Maine’s economy heavily relies on outdoor recreation, tourism and environmental resources, and regions along this corridor rely on natural spaces for their livelihoods. The route was never designed to minimize environmental impacts, but rather to minimize cost, and such negligent and irresponsible planning is nothing short of tragic. This sets a dangerous precedent for use of Maine lands going forward.

Beyond the physical corridor, one of the most glaring environmental injustices of this project is the irreparable harm that Hydro-Quebec’s megadams are causing to Indigenous communities, including forced displacement, land theft, methylmercury poisoning and food insecurity, all resulting in cultural genocide. The Innu Nation of Labrador, Wemotaci (Atikamekw), Pikogan, Lac Simon, Kitcisakik and Winneway (Anishinabe) in Canada; the Penobscot Nation in Maine, and the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe and the Nipmuc Nation in Massachusetts, among others, have actively fought the CMP corridor to protect ancestral lands, harvesting and hunting territories, and tribal communities. Indigenous peoples have been the enduring stewards of this land for millennia, and we must stand in solidarity with their opposition to the CMP corridor and Canadian hydropower.

Disinformation and misleading claims from CMP have centered the core falsehood that the CMP corridor will work to combat the effects of climate change. This is not true. In all their marketing materials, CMP has attempted to cast itself as pro-renewable energy – despite their project producing no new renewable power. CMP’s efforts to mislead Mainers about their energy sources are shameful.

We are calling upon our leaders, lawmakers and adult allies to heed our concerns and take the necessary steps to stop this project once and for all. So many Maine residents are tired of CMP’s lies, and it’s time to use our collective voice against them.

With local and just clean-energy solutions on the horizon, we are hopeful for our collective future. Maine must advocate for local power generation to transition to clean and just energy sources that benefit local communities right now. We must reframe our mindset and understand renewable energy by assessing new projects and their long-term impacts through an equity and justice lens. We hope you will join us in this fight.

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