Adrienne Bennett, left, Eric Brakey, center, Dale Crafts

LEWISTON – The three Republicans vying to unseat first-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden are each opposed to the $1 billion project to put a new electrical transmission through rural Maine from Quebec.

Adrienne Bennett of Bangor and Eric Brakey of Auburn said the Central Maine Power proposal offers “a bad deal” for Mainers.

The other contender for Maine’s 2nd District seat, Dale Crafts of Lisbon, has also taken a stand against the project, which appears to be deeply unpopular in much of the state.

Bennett, a former press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage, criticized Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston, for failing to join the opposition.

She also blasted him for urging CMP to enter into a project labor agreement with local unions that would ensure workers on the proposed New England Clean Energy Connect project come from Maine.

Golden did not say the project ought to go forward, but insisted that if it is going to happen, the company ought to cut a deal with the unions “in order to secure the highly-trained electricians, operating engineers, ironworkers, laborers, and other trades professionals necessary to complete the project.”

Bennett said the congressman’s proposal “revealed that he’s willing to sell out the people of Maine’s 2nd District and signaled his support for the construction of the CMP corridor as long as his political allies are paid a ransom.”

Rep. Jared Golden Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer

Jason Shedlock, executive director of the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, said his group has no opinion on whether the project ought to be approved.

But, he said, if it does, Golden is right to support a PLA for such a huge project.

Former state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton, an ally of Golden’s, said the congressman is looking into the pros and cons of the project before making a decision on its merits. He said that’s how Golden typically operates.

Golden has said he would like to see more transparency about the project. Both he and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, successfully urged the Army Corps of Engineers to hold Thursday’s hearing on it in a bid to give the public more opportunity to weigh in on the decision.

Brakey said he finds it hypocritical of Massachusetts to ask Maine to bear the burdens of a transmission line to deliver hydropower to the Bay State when it has refused to approve a natural gas pipeline that Maine needs.

He said that before Maine says yes to the NECEC project, it should insist that Massachusetts give a green light to the natural gas pipeline that Maine needs to connect with the fracking fields in Pennsylvania.

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