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Two environmental groups say CMP failed to meet a key condition of its corridor permit: conservation

CMP corridor construction
Brian Bechard
Maine Public
Construction on Central Maine Power's corridor in May 2021.

Two environmental groups that supported a state permit for Central Maine Power's controversial power corridor in western Maine now say the company has failed to meet a key condition of that permit.

The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Law Foundation say CMP was supposed to file by last Friday a robust plan demonstrating its ability to conserve 40,000 acres of land in the area. That was to mitigate for clearing a 51-mile swathe of continuous woodlands for the corridor's most remote section. CMP has already cleared most of that route.

Maine Public illustration by Andrew Catalina
sentinelhub/NAIP imagery
Clearing around the New England Clean Energy Connect corridor (right) highlighted faintly in red crosses Route 201 near the Forks, circles Coburn Mountain and heads west to the Canadian border, seen in satellite imagery on Nov. 5, 2021. Roughly the same path is highlighted in a National Agriculture Imagery Program satellite photo (left) taken sometime between 2013 and 2015.

"We believe they're not meeting the letter or intent of the permit condition,” said the conservancy’s Rob Wood.

He said what CMP filed was instead a general outline with few specifics or commitments.

"With the 18-month window to develop a robust conservation plan, CMP could have at a minimum signed option agreements with landowners for conservation of all or some of the 40,000 acres that's required by the permit,” Wood said.

The groups are calling on the Department of Environmental Protection to find CMP to be in non-compliance and then pursue remedies. CMP said in a statement that its filing meets the permit standards, and the company would work with the state to choose properties that meet regulators' standards.

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.