July 12, 2019

Earthrise is Helping Sierra Club Oppose False Solutions to Climate Change in New England

We are representing Sierra Club in opposing a faux-“green” megadam hydropower transmission line. We have submitted two sets of comments, and are waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s response.

When tackling the climate crisis, it will be important to avoid the temptation of false solutions. Once such false solution is hydropower from megadams in Canada, which is often touted as “clean” or “green” energy, but in reality hydropower releases potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the form of methane. In addition to emitting GHGs, megadams also poison local food sources for Indigenous communities by releasing methylmercury into the water, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health (https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/11/human-health-risks-from-hydroelectric-projects). Moreover, the dams destroy and permanently disrupt riverine and saltwater ecosystems, and they eliminate large swaths of boreal forests that can act as carbon sinks to mitigate climate change. For the environment and the communities near these dams, that is a LOSE-LOSE-LOSE-LOSE scenario.

Yet these megadams and their habitat-fracturing high voltage transmission lines continue to be built in Canada to supply power to the United States.

The Sierra Club’s Maine chapter (https://www.sierraclub.org/maine) recently retained Earthrise to help oppose one of these projects proposed to transmit power from Labrador Canada through Maine to Massachusetts. The project—ironically dubbed New England Clean Energy Connect—is seeking authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers due the transmission corridor’s adverse effects on wetlands and vernal pools in Maine. On behalf of Sierra Club, Earthrise submitted two sets of comments on the proposed project, which are linked in the sidebar.

The comments’ big picture message to the Corps was that an Environmental Impact Statement was required for the project, and anything less would be illegal under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Corp’s decision is pending so check back for further updates.