With our Gulf of Maine waters warming at an alarming rate and storms of increasing intensity causing all manner of human and economic suffering, most of us welcome an increase in renewable energy sources to reduce fossil fuel emissions. As a lifelong environmentalist, I despair to see former colleagues searching for every possible excuse not to support a transmission line to bring clean power from Quebec into the New England electric grid.
Yes, there will be impacts, but wind, solar and associated transmission also have impacts.
This transmission line is not going through pristine forestland, as many who know better have stated. These lands have been routinely harvested for over 150 years, most of that time with little or no regulation.
The 50 miles of new cleared corridor in the unorganized towns represent a small impact. As a former state fisheries biologist, I can say with confidence that today’s strong Department of Environmental Protection regulations on new power line corridors will minimize the impact to fish and wildlife.
A transmission line crossing the Kennebec River will not ruin a rafting trip that is possible only because of engineered water releases from a concrete dam where rafters begin their trip.
Would we rather let the wrath of climate change affect our world profoundly than make a small trade-off for cleaner air? I would hope that most Maine people would agree with me that the minor impact of a power line that will supply 1,200 megawatts of electricity from a totally renewable source – falling water – is preferable to burning fossil fuels like natural gas to produce electricity.
I support the New England Clean Energy Connect project because the environmental impacts are minimal and the clean air and economic benefits for Maine are the legacy we should leave for the next generation.
Richard B. Anderson
former commissioner, Maine Department of Conservation; former executive director, Maine Audubon Society