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Gov. Mills digs in on fish standards

March 24, 2021 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine Gov. Janet Mills says that the dam manager at the center of her administration’s proposal to increase fish-passage standards on the Kennebec River should be able to meet state demands.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is revising its river management policy calling for dams to improve fish passage methods to allow more fish to reach spawning grounds at the Sandy River, the Bangor Daily News reported. Fish that utilize these passages include the endangered Atlantic salmon.


The department is also backing the removal of at least two dams and potentially two more.

According to Brookfield Renewable U.S., a subsidiary of a larger Toronto-based asset management company, the new fish passage standards would be “unachievable” and force dam removal.

Mills dismissed this notion Tuesday and said that Brookfield’s size should enable the company to comply. Mills specifically mentioned that the company’s parent is partially owned by the nation of Qatar.

“If they want to come to the table, I’m always available to talk,” Mills said.

Senators Brad Farrin of Norridgewock and Scott Cyrway of Benton accused the Department of Marine Resources of downplaying the significance of the change in a letter last week saying that it could have “an almost immediate and decidedly negative impact.”

In a letter to those senators, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher referred to the change as “nothing more than a guidance document.” However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that the state plan would be a key factor in decisions on the dams’ license renewals.

The Shawmut Dam in Fairfield is currently up for review.

Farrin accused the state of misrepresenting the impact and said that the state should extend its comment period past Friday and conduct economic impact surveys for damn removal.