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Advocates debate Maine ballot Question 1 in NEWS CENTER Maine forum

Less than two weeks from election day, leaders from the Yes on 1, and No on 1 campaigns debated the ballot question surrounding the controversial CMP Corridor

MAINE, USA — Note: At the end of the Question 1 debate on Oct. 20, a technical error caused a commercial message to interrupt one of the panelists. We sincerely apologize to our panelists and to our viewers.

We corrected this error as quickly as possible, but recognize parts of final statements were disrupted. To that end, we want our viewers to hear and see all four closing statements uninterrupted. Watch all four arguments here and find each individual one at the bottom of the story. 

Mainers have less than two weeks before heading to polls on November, 2. One controversial issue that has captivated, and sometimes raised questions is Maine ballot Question 1, which will appear on the statewide ballot. On Wednesday, NEWS CENTER Maine hosted a Voice of the Voter forum to discuss the ballot questions, focused on the CMP Corridor Project with leaders from the Yes on 1, and No on 1 campaigns.

The Yes on 1 campaign was represented by Adam Cote, an attorney representing the Yes on 1 campaign, and Tom Saviello, a former state senator, and volunteer for the Yes on 1 campaign. 

The No on 1 campaign was represented by Thorn Dickinson, the CEO & President of the New England Clean Energy Connect, and Ben Dudley, the director of Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs.

You can watch NEWS CENTER Maine's full coverage of the Question 1 Forum below. 

During the forum, advocates focused on topics like job creation, impact on the environment, CMP's lease to build on public land, and retroactive measures included in the ballot question.

When Mainers receive their ballots in November, Question 1 will read:

“Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”

Dickinson began the debate by speaking on how the creation of the corridor will help Maine and New England's environment.

"It will help us meet our clean energy goals and displace more than 3 million metric tons of carbon," Dickinson said. 

"It will bring such enormous economic impact while at the same time reducing climate emissions," Dudley said.

The Yes on 1 campaign raised questions about the lack of a third-party environmental impact study by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Had we done one, we would've known whether these numbers are real," Saviello said.

"They talk about climate change. I would note to all of you if you look at the Governor's climate change report, nowhere in there is it mentioned the New England Clean Energy Connect," Saviello added.

The debate also focused on CMP's lease to construct the corridor on public lands. Over the summer, a judge ruled that the permit for the line to cross a mile of state-owned public reserve land did not follow the Maine Constitution, and was invalid. CMP is appealing that decision, and the Department of Environmental Protection held a hearing this week on whether or not to suspend the power utility's lease. That decision is not expected to be made until months after election day, however.

RELATED: CMP and state agency appeal judge's ruling over proposed CMP transmission corridor

"CMP violated the Maine constitution by deciding to go over public lands without getting approval from the legislature," Cote said.

Dickinson added, however, that CMP went through adequate state procedures and review before receiving its lease.

"The state came back to us after our analysis which is included in a memo from Andy Cutko about how the process they went through. In the end, they awarded us the lease that allowed us to put together the rest of the corridor," Dickinson said.

One issue that's been a focus of the Yes and No campaigns has the measure included in the ballot question in regards to retroactive laws. The Yes on 1 Campaign argues the retroactive measure will only apply to the CMP Corridor project, however, the No on 1 campaign disagrees.

"This referendum goes to 2014 because that's when CMP entered into this lease over public lands in violation of the Maine constitution," Cote said.

"The retroactivity provision also applies to any type of transmission project of this kind anywhere in the state back to 2020," Dudley said.

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