Three of Maine’s largest conservation groups filed a motion in a federal court to add the U.S. Department of Energy to their earlier lawsuit challenging federal permits granted to Central Maine Power for its controversial hydropower transmission project.

The Appalachian Mountain Club, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the Sierra Club Maine said the department erred in issuing the presidential permit for the New England Clean Energy Connect project without first allowing for public comment and not thoroughly assessing the environmental impact in a new motion with the U.S. District Court in Maine. The groups said the department conducted multiple public hearings and more rigorous reviews for similar projects in Vermont and New Hampshire.

The motion would add to the original lawsuit filed in October 2020 against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That lawsuit has a similar allegation that the Army Corps failed to rigorously assess the full impacts of the $1 billion transmission line on the woods, waters, and communities of western Maine. A spokesperson for the CMP affiliate running the project was not immediately available for comment.

The 145-mile corridor could bring 1,200 megawatts of hydropower from the Canadian border through western Maine to Lewiston. The presidential permit granted in January allows for construction over the border between the U.S. and Canada.

In a separate case, the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the trio of environmental groups to grant a preliminary injunction to stop CMP from cutting trees in the 53-mile segment that comprises the final portion of the hydropower line. While much of the power line is along existing infrastructure, the final section needs to be cleared for poles, lines, and other infrastructure equipment. Oral arguments for that case were heard on March 30.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.