Environmental group asks Maine to halt corridor construction after CMP's referendum loss
The Natural Resources Council of Maine, or NRCM, is asking state regulators to stop Central Maine Power from clearing any more woodlands for its controversial power line in western Maine. That follows Tuesday's decisive statewide vote for a law that aims to kill the project.
CMP's parent company, Avangrid, has maintained a defiant stance since the vote, vowing to continue construction and seeking a court order to put the voters' will on hold while it challenges the referendum's legitimacy.
On Thursday, the NRCM petitioned the state Department of Environmental Protection, to immediately bar construction and clearing in the corridor. Nick Bennett, NRCM's staff scientist, said CMP is trying to bolster a legal argument that it has established "vested rights" in the project. He says the position is putting western Maine ecosystems at risk of irreparable harm.
"This is the law of the and it will go into effect shortly. Until a court days otherwise Avangrid has to obey the law, and DEP should stop them from doing any more damage," Bennett said.
DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim is already considering a suspension of a key permit for the project, after a judge invalidated a lease for a portion of the preferred corridor route that crosses state lands. By Thursday, DEP had not made any public statement in response to the referendum vote. In a email a CMP spokesman said the company would continue to advocate for the project.