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.