NECEC benefits outweigh its impacts
To the Editor;
I wanted to respond to a letter written by Richard Aishton published in your newspaper. Mr. Aishton discusses in great detail the presumed environmental damage the New England Clean Energy Connect will do to Maine’s western mountains. I disagree.
The NECEC has undergone a lengthy permitting process and has been granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. This permit in and of itself means the benefits of the New England Clean Energy Connect outweigh its impacts.
The engineers who created the path for the NECEC have done so with painstaking detail to ensure minimal environmental impact. This area is not pristine wilderness. These are working forests that have been used by Maine loggers for centuries. That is why the project is routed the way it is … to take advantage of these areas that have already been harvested.
While the impact of the NECEC will be minimal thanks to this careful planning, the impact on these forests and our climate in general will be devastating if the climate change crisis is not addressed urgently. The waters in the Gulf of Maine are warming at an alarming rate, and a recent analysis by The Washington Post found that climate change is no longer something we are anticipating, it is here, particularly in the Northeast. We cannot passively stand by and not address it.
Our state needs big solutions, and the New England Clean Energy Connect is just that. No solution is without trade-offs yet the NECEC will remove more than three million metric tons of carbon from our air annually. That is an astounding fact. That’s the equivalent of more than 700,000 vehicles being taken off the roads of New England each year. To those who oppose the project I ask them to offer a better solution to reversing the effects of climate change. We must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The NECEC is an important first step in achieving that goal.
Let’s also not forget the economic benefits of the project. 1,600 jobs will be created annually during the construction, with 3,500 at peak construction. The NECEC will also stabilize electricity rates. Fossil fuels are subject to price spikes during times of extreme weather. Hydropower is not. Having a stable energy supply is critical to keeping prices steady — having it be renewable increases its benefit.
The NECEC project, combined with funding of electric vehicle programs and Gov. Mills’ steadfast support of renewable energy will go a long way toward making sure our children and grandchildren enjoy the beauty of Maine that we all do today.