Says wind farm ban is unconstitutional
The Conservation Law Foundation says the governor's action violates the constitutional separation of powers.
The lawsuit doesn’t weigh in on a second element of LePage’s executive order, which would establish a special commission to study the economic impact of wind energy in the western mountains and coast. That study group could meet in secret and would be exempt from public access laws.
A regional environmental advocacy group has gone to court in an attempt to overturn a moratorium imposed last week by Gov. Paul LePage on most new wind energy projects in Maine.
In a suit filed Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court, the Conservation Law Foundation charges that the governor’s action is unconstitutional, because it violates the separation of powers. The Maine Legislature has passed laws for the permitting of wind energy, the group says in its complaint, and the governor can’t change that by executive order. The group is asking a judge to declare the ban unconstitutional and void the governor’s order.
Maine’s so-called expedited wind law has made the state New England’s leader in wind development, with construction of 378 wind turbines and an investment of more than $1 billion.
But it has also been a source of anger and frustration for some rural residents who live near the projects and are subject to seeing and sometimes hearing the turbines and their massive, spinning blades. Critics gained a partial victory two years ago, when 40 towns and plantations were removed from the expedited area.
LePage’s bill would essentially gut the existing law, in part by expanding from eight to 40 miles the area around turbines that could be subject to visual impact studies. But it keeps parts of Aroostook County in the expedited area, because they are outside the mountain and coastal regions.