Judge says LePage exceeded authority by emptying prison

A judge has ordered the LePage administration to continue operating the now-empty Downeast Correctional Facility, handing at least a partial victory to Washington County officials upset with the prison’s sudden closure.

In a 12-page ruling, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy agreed with the county, union officials and Attorney General Janet Mills that LePage overstepped his constitutional authority when he emptied the Machiasport prison in a secret, pre-dawn operation on Feb. 9. Murphy ordered the Maine Department of Corrections “to operate DCF” in accordance with state law “until the Legislature acts to repeal (the law) or ceases to fund DCF.”

Source:Portland Press Herald

Isle au Haut plans to build its own energy grid  

Isle au Haut residents plan to install a sophisticated microgrid this spring that could eventually end their reliance on expensive power and heating fuel from the mainland.As on many of the other 14 Maine islands inhabited year-round, Isle au Haut residents pay at least double the amount a Portland or Bangor resident would for their electricity, kerosene and oil. Compounding matters, an aging undersea electric cable between Stonington and the island could fail any day, according to Jim Wilson, president of Isle au Haut Electric Power Co.

Source:  BDN Maine

Rumford board approves permit for large-scale water extraction 

RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 Thursday evening to approve an application for a permit for large-scale water extraction.The Rumford Water District will be allowed to draw up to 650,000 gallons per day, instead of up to 588,700 gallons per day, from two district wells.“The project will be owned and operated by the Rumford Water District, and it will be sold to Poland Spring (Water Co.) under a contract signed last August, district Superintendent Brian Gagnon said.

Source: Lewiston Sun Journal

Maine’s Lobster Harvest Drops In 2017, Rattling The Industry

Maine’s lobster harvest dropped more than 15 percent last year, according to data just released by the state Department of Marine Resources. But even if the haul was down, it’s still the sixth highest on record.Lobstermen knew from early in 2017 that the catch would probably fall off from the previous year, when they brought in a record 131 million pounds of the valuable crustacean.”My July was pretty much nonexistent,” says Curt Brown, who fishes lobster out of Portland, and works as a biologist for Ready Seafood, one of the state’s largest lobster dealers. “And it was just a waiting game – slowly trickling out, and so the rest of the year… I mean the rest of the year was decent.  It certainly wasn’t a banner year.”

Source: Maine Public