A Superior Court justice ruled today that Gov. Janet Mills' administration exceeded its authority when it leased public lands to Central Maine Power for its high-voltage transmission line through Maine's western woods.
Justice Michaela Murphy says officials in the Bureau of Parks and Lands under both Mills and former Gov. Paul LePage bypassed a constitutional requirement that leases of public lands require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the state Legislature, if there's a "substantial alteration" of the land's use.
"BPL has no authority to ignore or re-write a statute of the Legislature, particularly one with such a clear constitutional foundation," Murphy wrote. "BPL exceeded its authority when it entered into the 2020 lease with CMP, and BPL’s decision to do so is reversed."
Lawyers for the challengers say they will seek a stay of work on the entire project while the case is further reviewed — likely by the Supreme Law Court — and by the Legislature. The plaintiffs include a group of lawmakers, conservation groups and individual activists who oppose the power line.