Wow, what a difference one week can make!
This week, we got the news we’d long been waiting for in the courts. Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy dealt a massive blow to CMP’s NECEC Corridor with a ruling to vacate the unconstitutional lease to bisect public lands with a destructive transmission corridor for Massachusetts without the constitutionally and statutorily-required ⅔ passing vote of the Maine Legislature.
In the ruling, Justice Murphy concludes, “The Court finds no competent evidence to support BPL’s claim that it made the constitutionally-required finding of no “reduction” and/or no “substantial alteration” before it entered into the 2020 lease with CMP. Director Cutko therefore exceeded his authority, and his decision is therefore reversed.”
Without this lease, the CMP Corridor route is no longer viable, and the entire project is at risk.
This ruling should come as no surprise to CMP, Maine’s administration, or to anyone else who has been following the project. The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee repeatedly voted and sent letters to the Bureau long before construction began to inform them that it did not have the authority to grant a lease for this project without their approval. The administration repeatedly ignored the Legislature and allowed CMP to begin clearing a giant swath through the heart of the Kennebec Valley region anyway.
But that isn’t how the government is supposed to work. Now, with this ruling, two branches have definitively told the third branch that it has exceeded its power, and violated the Maine Constitution and laws.
In response to this ruling, our coalition partners at NRCM requested a STAY of the DEP permit on the grounds that this corridor no longer connects.
This request was submitted to Commissioner Loyzim, and I am so pleased to say that she has already responded with a letter to Thorn Dickinson letting him know that she has initiated the process to suspend their DEP permit!!!!!
Featured Letter of the Week
On August 12, DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim sent a letter to Thorn Dickinson, President & CEO of NECEC, to inform the company that, in light of the Black v Cutko decision, their permit is now in jeopardy.
In her letter, Commissioner Loyzim said, "I have determined that the Court’s decision represents a change in circumstance that may warrant a suspension of the NECEC Order and I, therefore, am initiating this proceeding under the above-cited sections of the law and rule." She continues, "This letter shall serve as the required notice that I have decided to exercise my discretionary authority to initiate proceedings to consider the suspension of the NECEC Order.”
The suspension would be in effect until CMP can meet one of the three following criteria:
1) Justice Murphy's decision is reversed and the lease is reinstated;
2) a new lease to cross the public lands is entered into;
3) the Department approves an amendment rerouting the affected portion of the route.
NECEC has until August 27 to request a hearing before a final determination is made.
It's pretty obvious that NECEC/CMP cannot meet the criteria laid out by Commissioner Loyzim within the next two weeks, or even before the statewide vote this fall, so this determination is a huge win for CMP Corridor opponents. CMP didn't follow the proper process, and now they are paying the price for their mistakes.
Here’s what some of our top activists have to say about Justice Murphy’s court ruling:
First Featured News Story
Second Featured News Story
Third Featured News Story
Fourth Featured News Story
Fifth Featured News Story
Activists of the Week
Please join us in thanking Wendy Huish (not pictured) and Diane Kruchkow for organizing the Wilton Blueberry Festival parade, along with our amazing volunteers who manned the booth and marched in the parade! The energy was amazing, and their presence was very much appreciated. It is clear that Wilton does not want their town to serve as an extension cord for Massachusetts!
This court ruling is an absolute game changer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. If you’re a volunteer, please join us on Wednesday at 7 pm on Zoom to learn more about this decision, and where we will go from here. This meeting is for volunteers only.
Also, please also join us in the Constitution Hall at the Skowhegan Skowhegan State Fair for Vote YES on 1 signs, stickers, pins, and informational flyers. Our amazing volunteer team will be at the booth, so be sure to say hello! The fair runs through August 21st.
It’s been a big week, and I’d like to acknowledge the steady stream of so many other great letters, columns and news stories over this past week as well. Thanks so much to our volunteers who have continued to keep the heat up high in local editorial sections throughout the state. We have CMP on the mats right now. It’s more important than ever that we continue to give this fight everything that we have until November 2. This weeks’ court decision was huge, now let’s finish the job by educating everyone we know to vote YES ON 1 this November!
DONATE this week and we’ll send you a bumper sticker!
To donate securely online, click here. To donate by check, mail a check payable to No CMP Corridor to PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04938.
Let’s keep up the wonderful grassroots effort!
Director, No CMP Corridor