Great news! A legislative committee has voted unanimously for a resolve to void CMP’s public lands lease for their destructive corridor through western Maine. The resolve also notes that Maine’s constitution requires approval by two-thirds of the legislature for public lands to be substantially altered.
CMP claims it is not substantially changing our public lands, but of course they are. The Constitution actually says that public lands held for conservation or recreation purposes may not be reduced or its uses substantially altered except on a vote of 2/3 of all House and Senate members.
Maine Public Radio did an excellent story about this on Tuesday. Bureau of Public Lands planner David Rodrigues said when he was working on the lease back in 2014, he had no idea the parcel was destined to be a major transmission corridor — and didn’t consult the relevant statute.
“To me, when I was working on it, I believed that it was for renewable energy and possibly windmills to be built in that region,” Rodrigues said. “I knew nothing about any other reason for the corridor.”
And BPL’s new Director, Andrew Cutko, told the Committee that had he been involved in the lease at the time and known CMP’s actual plans for the parcel, he would have waited for Public Utilities Commission action before allowing the lease to move forward.
“Now that I am aware of the utilities requirement, I would certainly want to follow the law and get that secured prior,” Cutko said.
“It’s tough to know that these decisions were made without much information about what the project was,” said Representative Maggie O’Neill, a Saco Democrat. “This is public land. It belongs to the people of Maine and it’s really important that we are thoughtful, and our government goes through this process when we make these kinds of choices, and the public knows, and has the opportunity to weigh in.”
She is so right. Now, the issue goes to the full legislature.