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Judge Rejects Attempt To Stop Groundbreaking On Western Maine Transmission Project

Fred Bever
Maine Public file
The peak of Coburn Mountain in western Maine overlooks woods through which CMP would construct its transmission line.

A federal judge rejected a request from conservation groups to halt winter construction of Central Maine Power’s power line through the state’s western woods.

Three groups are challenging a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the project, and asked for a preliminary injunction while the larger case is adjudicated. But in a 49-page decision, Judge Lance Walker sided with the Army Corps and noted that so far, none of the regulatory review bodies has argued against the project.

Sue Ely, an attorney with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, notes that the federal Department of Energy hasn’t even started its review.

“So they cut through our North Woods, they destroy that habitat, all to find out they weren’t going to get that permit from the Department of Energy,” she says. “That would be a tragedy. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

Ely says it’s still possible to challenge the Corps permit and others.

A CMP spokesman says the company continues to plan for winter groundbreaking, but its schedule has been delayed as it completes the spin-off of a separate entity that will own and operate the 145-mile power line.