Lawsuit seeks environmental review of Maine energy project

October 28, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Natural Resources Council of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club and Sierra Club Maine are suing to try to require a more rigorous environmental review of a 145-mile energy transmission line that would run through western Maine.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, contends the Army Corps of Engineers should have performed a full environmental impact statement instead of a less-rigorous environmental assessment, which found “no significant impact” for Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has abdicated its responsibility to assess the significant, harmful and long-lasting impact that CMP’s massive transmission line would have on Maine’s North Woods,” said NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett. The suit says a more rigorous review is required under federal law and similar proposals, such as the Northern Pass in New Hampshire and Clean Power Link in Vermont, involved a full environmental impact statement.


Clean Energy Matters Executive Director Jon Breed said the lawsuit was the latest of more then a dozen attempts to use legal action to derail the project.

“Because they can’t win on the merits of their arguments, these hyper-partisan environmental groups have now resorted to attacking the integrity of military service members and other public servants,” Breed said in a statement. “Their conduct is shameful.”

The New England Clean Energy Connect would serve as a conduit for up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to reach New England.

The project was proposed by the state of Massachusetts to meet its clean energy goals. It would be fully funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, but the entire region would benefit, supporters say.

Critics say the environmental benefits are overstated and that the project would spoil part of Maine’s North Woods.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Land Use Planning Commission and Maine Public Utilities Commission have already approved the transmission line.

While the Army Corps of Engineers finished its environmental assessment, it has yet to issue the final permit for the project. Representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Natural Resources Council of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club and Sierra Club Maine used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the Army Corps’ environmental assessment, completed in July.