Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon members John Brenner at left and Orion Schwab shared their thoughts on Central Maine Power New England Clean Energy Connect last week. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

JAY — The Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon team received $1,500 from Central Maine Power to help fund its trip to the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) International Envirothon held at North Carolina State University from July 27 to August 3. A press release from CMP noted the team took an in–depth look at the NECEC project and decided as a group the project is beneficial to Maine. Last week two members of the team spoke more about the issue.

John Brenner said last fall Mr. Rob Taylor walked into the AP Environment Sciences class, pulled out two things and asked ‘What is this?’ One was on the Clean Energy Connect and how it’s great with benefits for Maine with no seeming downfall.  The other trashed the CMP corridor, how it’s going to ruin the pristine Maine environment and provides no benefit to Maine.

Orion Schwab said the students’ homework was to look at both sides of the issue, find what relevant, trustworthy information is available and come up with their own conclusions.

“Initially I was on the edge because of the Kennebec Gorge. Once they decided to bury it, I decided it was worth supporting.

“One reason that really gets to me is that our generation is going to have to deal with climate change. By 2050 the population will be 9.7 billion worldwide. A report in the Guardian said New York is going to feel like Virginia Beach, London like Barcelona and Seattle like San Fransisco. What’s Maine going to feel like?

“Natural Resources Council of Maine says NECEC isn’t going to actually reduce emissions. I don’t know if I buy that because Canada is investing a lot in global energy,” Schwab said.

Brenner said most students in the class were very good about taking a problem from multiple points of view. They asked how other renewable energy industries in Maine would fare, will this affect possible wind power development if electricity prices go down and not just opposed it because it’s going through Jay.

“We had a lot of tense, very argumentative debate about this. At the end of the day most of us tentatively supported this.

“I’m torn. Overall I support it. Definitely there are arguments to be made that it will hurt if you’re looking to invest in creating renewable energy in Maine that might boost Maine’s economy. Then there’s arguments that it might not be best for Maine as it might reduce our chances to sell power to Massachusetts.

“With a growing population, we’re going to need more power in the future,” Brenner said.

Schwab said, “From a global perspective, the best way to fight climate change is to generate as much renewable energy as possible and distribute it to make sure the people who need it are getting it.

“Through Envirothon I know Maine has a great tradition of preserving forests for sustainable development. I’m confident our state will be able to handle it.”

Brenner said CMP’s pledge not to use herbicides and a faded edge canopy with the corridor was important.

“I hope they hold to that. The U–shaped canopy provides good habitat for wildlife, especially over the winter. I don’t think the local environment will have any negative consequences. It might not be as scenic,” he said.

Schwab said he found it hard to find objective information.

“Climate is one of the most important issues. This is turning in to a national, worldwide emergency,” he said.

Brenner thought a lot of towns would get added tax revenues for infrastructure and schools.

“What frustrates me and Orion is most of the money for the pro and con side is coming from out of state. They don’t care about the constituents, it’s all outside business interests trying to compete with CMP. It’s kind of a mess,” Brenner said.

“A lot of people oppose it. They’ve only heard one side. I can’t blame them for that,” Schwab said.

Brenner said, “If you haven’t looked at both sides and haven’t at least considered everything we’ve mentioned here, looked at all the options you can think of, look at them again. Think it over. Consider the pros, cons and benefits then make up your mind.

“Try to make your own informed opinion. I’m not sure you can believe what’s out there.”

 

 


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