RadioActive 6/20/19: Asylum Seekers in Portland and CMP Transmission Project Update

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

a) Today we hear from the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project in Portland on support work for the over 200 asylum seekers, primarily from the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, recently arrived in Maine, and the impacts of federal and state policy. This week the Maine Senate failed to vote on legislation that would have restored cuts made by the LePage administration to safety net programs for documented immigrants and asylum seekers, including food stamps, MaineCare and General Assistance. Governor Mills still has the power to mobilize funds for General Assistance.

b) We also hear an update on the status of so called New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), the proposed Central Maine Power high voltage, highly controversial 145 mile transmission line corridor which would bring electric power form Hydro Quebec in a swath through Maine to Massachusetts markets. Theres has been concerted and growing opposition to this mega project from a wide swath of communities, groups and individuals concerned with environmental impacts on wetlands, waterways and habitat and concerned with democratic and local control.

Julia Brown, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

For more information on volunteering and donations:
Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition
Translators needed in French, Portuguese and Lingala.

Matt Wagner, NO NECEC

Today’s program was produced with the Sunlight Media Collective.

c) A number of bills that would have potentially impacted the project were presented in the legislature at the end of this session. One bill, would have required a study to examine claims that the NECEC would benefit efforts to address climate change. Two others would have given local governments and municipalities power to approve transmission line projects and the taking of land through eminent domain. These two bills, LD 1382 and LD 1363, both passed the full legislature, but were vetoed by Governor Mills, who has thrown her full support behind the CMP project

The climate study bills received a majority of votes, but as “emergency” legislation criteria, did not receive enough votes to be implemented.

The NECEC project is still seeking permits form the Department of Environmental Protection, the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Impacts by Hydro Quebec operations on Canadian communities, including First Nations, will be examined in a future program.