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Environment and Outdoors
The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

State And CMP Plan To Appeal Court Ruling Vacating Powerline Lease

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Brian Bechard
/
Maine Public

Central Maine Power and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands are planning to appeal a recent court decision that found that the Mills Administration did not follow the proper procedure when it leased 33 acres of land to the company for its high-profile transmission line project through Western Maine.

On Friday, both CMP and the Maine Attorney General's office filed notices to appeal the Superior Court ruling from Justice Michaela Murphy earlier this week.

"Today, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands filed a notice to appeal a Superior Court decision about BPL leasing practices," said NECEC Transmission LLC CEO and President Thorn Dickinson in a statement. "As one of many current leaseholders impacted by the court’s ruling, CMP and NECEC LLC also filed a notice of appeal."

Murphy vacated the state's lease to CMP after finding that officials from both the LePage and Mills administrations did not determine whether the land would be substantially altered by the lease, and didn't seek a constitutionally required approval of two-thirds of the legislature.

Following the ruling, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection wrote in a letter to CMP on Thursday that her agency would begin the administrative process of suspending the company's permit for the powerline project. In her letter, Melanie Loyzim said that while only a fraction of the line is affected by the court ruling, it is necessary to the purpose of the project.

"If a suspension is imposed, it would be in effect until: (a) the Superior Court’s decision is reversed on appeal and the lease is reinstated; (b) a new lease is entered into for the portion of the corridor in Johnson Township and West Forks Plantation that is at issue; or (c) the licensees obtain Department approval of an amendment to the Order rerouting this portion of the transmission line," Loyzim said.

The Maine Attorney General's Office and the state's Bureau of Parks and Lands both declined to comment any further on the case.