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Penobscot Nation Opposes CMP Transmission Project


The Penobscot Nation is coming out in opposition to Central Maine Power’s proposed transmission line through Maine’s western woods.

Penobscot Natural Resources Director John Banks says the tribe is in solidarity with Canada’s Innu Nation, whose lands in Labrador have been damaged by decades of flooding to serve energy projects by Hydro-Quebec.

“We know what it’s like to have lands flooded and destroyed. That has happened to us in the past,” he says.

The CMP project would carry electricity from Hydro-Quebec facilities into New England, to serve a contract with Massachusetts utilities. Banks says Innu Nation officials approached the Penobscots recently to seek their assistance.

And he says today’s heightened awareness of environmental injustices that disproportionately affect nonwhite communities could help the tribes make the case.

“A lot of attention on the issue following police brutality of George Floyd. And that’s good that these things are becoming more and more aware. But the tribes have been going through this for thousands of years right here in Maine and in Canada,” Banks says.

Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers last week demanding that as it considers a permit for the CMP project, the agency require a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement that analyzes the effects in Maine and across the border. He says precedent shows that federal regulators can and should consider the transnational effects of major infrastructure projects.

Corps officials say they received the Tribe’s letter and will respond to it after review.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.