Environmental groups say a Maine federal court ignored the harm to its members’ recreational and professional interests when it allowed construction on a power transmission line project to continue, according to a brief filed in the First Circuit.
The harms aren’t “imagined, speculative, or remote” and “there is no dispute the cleared corridor and related infrastructure are permanent,” according to the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Appalachian Mountain Club.
The groups seek to reverse an order allowing Central Maine Power to start work on a 53.1-mile long transmission line corridor that will pass through the Western Maine Mountains. The Army Corps of Engineers improperly limited the scope of its environmental review of the project, according to their lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.
The Corps recognized corridor cutting would affect wetlands, but it found the impacts wouldn’t significantly “affect the quality of the human environment.” This finding was the “product of reason rather than caprice,” according to District of Maine Judge Lance E. Walker.
“I am not persuaded that plaintiffs are likely to prove that the Corps failed to take” their concerns into account, Walker wrote.
The lower court didn’t properly consider the groups’ irreparable harm, so it wasn’t able to weigh the likelihood of success on the merits, the groups told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The court’s conclusion was also due to its “unwarranted deference to the Corps’ decision,” according to Tuesday’s filing.
The Earthrise Law Center at Lewis and Clark Law School and internal counsel represent the environmental groups.
The Sierra Club has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.
Pierce Atwood LLP represents Central Maine Power. The Department of Justice represents the federal government.
The case is Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Eng’rs , 1st Cir., No. 20-02195, 2/2/21 .
To contact the reporter on this story: Maya Earls in Washington at [email protected]