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Governor Mills votes ‘no’ on Question 1. She said her vote was about climate change

Referendum Public Utility
Robert F. Bukaty
Central Maine Power utility lines are seen, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Pownal, Maine. A tug-of-war over the future of Central Maine Power is continuing behind the scenes with a pair of proposed referendums next year. The company is also fighting stiff opposition from environmentalists who oppose its proposed 145-mile transmission line to bring Canadian hydro-electric power into New England.

Gov. Janet Mills announced that she voted “no” on Question 1, the ballot initiative that aims to block construction of a high-voltage transmission line through Maine. Mills made her announcement days before voters cast ballots on the high-stakes issue.

Mills has been a vocal supporter of Central Maine Power’s plans to build a 145-mile transmission line through western Maine that would allow Hydro-Quebec to sell renewable energy to Massachusetts. So Mills' vote against Question 1 is no surprise. In her weekly radio address, Mills said she is "no fan of CMP" because of its recent reliability issues but echoed claims that voting “yes” on Question 1 could discourage future developers while slowing progress on the region’s climate goals.

“Fundamentally for me, it’s not about CMP,” Mills said in her radio address. “It’s about climate change. We need clean energy. We need reliable electricity. We have got to turn down the furnace and we have got to say no to fossil fuels.”

Opponents of the corridor contend the project will not significantly reduce emissions and accuse the developers of scare tactics through their ads warning of “retroactive laws.” Both sides have spent more than $80 million on the ballot campaign.

Two other questions on this Tuesday’s statewide ballot have received comparatively little attention amid the advertising wars and massive spending on the corridor issue.

Question 2 on the ballot asks whether voters support borrowing $100 million for roads, bridges, airports, seaports and rail projects across Maine. Voters typically support such transportation bonds by a wide margin.

Question 3, meanwhile, involves a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to guarantee Mainers’ “right to food.” The ballot initiative asks whether voters want to “declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and inalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.”

Question 3 grew out of the “food sovereignty” movement in Maine, which appeared to gain traction amid the supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some opponents argue the proposal could undermine existing state laws – including those protecting animals welfare – and predict costly legal challenges over what they say is overly vague language.