Plymouth’s Herring Pond Wampanoag oppose hydro electric connector plan
September 9, 2020
PLYMOUTH – The Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe has joined with the Penobscot and Innnu Nation in their opposition to plans to clear cut 145 miles of indigenous Maine wilderness to make way for a hydroelectric connection between Canada and the United States.
The Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe is urging Gov. Charlie Baker and Maine Gov. Janet Mills to reject imports of Canadian hydroelectricity, which they say is being siphoned through indigenous lands without tribal approvals or even discussion.
Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribal Chairlady Melissa Ferretti said her tribe stands with the Penobscot and Innu Nations, whose lands and sacred places are ravaged by dams, flooding and transmission corridors.
Ferretti notes that a majority of Maine residents oppose the proposal.
Baker’s officer directed questions on the hydroelectric deal to Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Communications Director Katie Gronendyke, who explained that The New England Clean Energy Connect (or NECEC) hydropower bid, accepted in 2018, met the criteria established under the RFP, or request for proposals, and is anticipated to save residents and businesses money on their energy bills, while helping the state meet its target of zero emissions by 2050.
“During the selection … all proposals were evaluated for their environmental impacts including the extent to which a project demonstrates that it avoids or mitigates, to the maximum extent practicable, impacts to natural resources,” she wrote in an email. “Ultimately, permitting decisions are up to the local governing authorities.”
But the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Penobscot and Innu Nation question the environmental benefit of a project that is clear-cutting 145 acres of indigenous forest. Ferretti noted that the Penobscot and Innu Nation, who are directly impacted by this sweeping annihilation of woodlands, should have been part of that conversation and decision, but weren’t.
“Since 2017, Indigenous people who suffer from Canadian hydropower development have spoken at the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth on the United States Thanksgiving holiday as a reminder of the impact of colonialism on Native people,” A Herring Pond Wampanoag press release states. “Amy Norman an Inuk woman whose ancestral territory is poisoned spoke in 2019 about how hydropower is not clean energy but destroys lands and waters.”
Ferretti explained that, in 2018, the Baker Administration signed 20-year contracts to import more hydroelectricity from the Canadian power company Hydro-Quebec, calling it clean energy. Most of Hydro-Quebec’s dams were built on the ancestral lands of Indigenous people without prior consent and new megadams are under construction for export to Massachusetts, she added. The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) hydropower corridor will deliver the power to Boston and cut through 145 miles of Maine wilderness on ancestral lands.
The Innu and Penobscot nations encompass Maine and Eastern Canada, including Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We are honored to stand with the Penobscot and Innu Nations in opposing projects that are destructive to the environment and to Indigenous homelands,” Ferretti said. “As Indigenous peoples, it is our responsibility to protect all that is sacred – including land, water, and wildlife – for the wellbeing of future generations.”