Credit: George Danby

It is striking how perceptions of the Central Maine Power Co. power line proposal can be so vastly different. I am a registered Maine Guide, and I disagree with those who say that the power lines will not drastically affect the beauty and gorgeous views we now have. This is akin to saying that a huge tear across a masterful work of art will not affect its beauty.

Some say we need to start thinking bigger picture. In fact, they are looking at the same picture. If we are to truly think of the bigger picture, we need to encourage the other ways to generate electricity. We can start by looking at small scale solar “farms” and incentivizing roof-top solar again. There are also many ways to reduce consumption. Let’s incentivize conservation, too.

The word “clean” to categorize hydropower, or any kind of power really, is a relative term and can be misleading. There are some things CMP and Hydro-Quebec do not want us to know. For example, thousands of acres were flooded to create the dams in Quebec. It might be hard to convince the native people of Quebec, such as the Cree, whose villages, traditional hunting grounds and very way of life were inundated, that this power is “clean.”

Even if we can grant that hydropower is clean, do we know for sure that it will come from existing dams? Or will more lands be flooded to satisfy insatiable and, in my view, wasteful lifestyles of people who do not even live in Maine? We don’t know.

Some folks who like to hunt and use recreational vehicles suggest that opening up more land, along the corridor, to easier access by four-wheelers, snowmobilers and hunters is a good reason to allow the power line. Some of the same people say that this transmission line will protect our environment.

To my way of thinking, protecting our environment by opening up more lands to activities that use gasoline and create yet more carbon pollution (and erosion and noise) is contradictory. There are many who see that there are already thousands of acres currently available for those kinds of activities. How about leaving some parts of the state relatively untrammeled by man? Leave some undisturbed land for its own sake and for future generations to have a baseline of what is natural.

Henry David Thoreau said famously that “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” He was not just some idealistic romantic, but a deep thinker whose philosophy of life included ways of interacting with the world that were not totally egocentric.

To some people it seems that everything is here for us to use. Nothing is sacred or safe from our all consuming “needs.”

We might do well to ask ourselves what is the legacy we want to leave. Are we a people who were hoodwinked by corporations to believe that we could not do without? A people whose purpose was to use and consume resources without limits? A people who saw only what was in it for them?

Let us be remembered for our wise use of natural resources, our ability to temper our desires for more. We can create ways of living that do not extract and consume so much more than we truly need. We are a smart and innovative people. We can utilize what we now consider alternative energy sources to the point that they become the conventional sources. We can develop even better technologies for electrical power production and conservation that will minimize impacts on the natural world.

This will only happen though if we can begin to say no to power companies, some politicians and regulatory agencies who are stuck in a paradigm. Let’s shift away from the corporate and political “good for the economy” mind set of more and more and move towards an understanding that enough is enough.

John Pincince of Lincolnville is a registered Maine guide.