Errors cited in challenge to new CMP line approval

In an appeal of that approval to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, NextEra Energy Resources accused the commission of ignoring state law requiring a third-party review of alternatives to Central Maine Power’s transmission line. NextEra also said the panel failed to follow the law in determining a public need for the $1 billion project.

Source: Portland Press Herald

State admits it was wrong to resist federal crackdown on oil tank pollution

Maine was wrong to fight a federal crackdown on hazardous emissions from petroleum storage tanks in South Portland and Searsport, a state official now admits, but there is still no consensus on how to safeguard the public from air pollution produced by oil facilities across the United States.

For much of the last decade, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection sided with oil companies and defended a widely disputed method of estimating air pollution from storage tanks that was developed by the petroleum industry, according to documents obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram under a Freedom of Access Act request.

Source: Portland Press Herald

Bucksport approves tax break for proposed salmon farm

The Town Council voted 7-0 on Thursday night to approve a tax break for a company that proposes to bring one of the state’s first land-based Atlantic salmon farms to the site of the former Verso Paper mill. Whole Oceans CEO Jason Mitchell told the council during its meeting that with the tax-increment financing deal approved, the company will apply to the town next month for a permit to build the aquafarm, with construction slated to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

Source: BDN Maine

Police and motorists prepare for ban on handling phones while driving

Maine drivers accustomed to taking a call on the road or checking social media at a red light could be in for a rude awakening and a pricey ticket when a ban on holding a cellphone behind the wheel goes into effect this fall. As of Sept. 19, anyone caught holding a cellphone or electronic device while driving can be pulled over and fined at least $50 and up to $250 for repeat offenses.

Source:  Portland Press Herald

Maine island starts composting program to save on shipping trash

Officials on Vinalhaven say that a communitywide composting program will not only help deliver nutrients to the island’s poor soil, but it will actually save the town money by reducing the amount of solid waste shipped off the island.

The town was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in June to turn a small composting project started last fall into an islandwide composting service located at the town’s transfer station.

Source: BDN Maine

Mills Vetoes Bill To Limit CMP’s Ability To Seize Private Land 

A bill that would limit Central Maine Power’s ability to seize land for its proposed 145-mile transmission project has failed following a veto by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

The House voted 79-64 to override the governor’s veto, well short of the two-thirds support needed to keep the bill alive.

The proposal would have changed state law that allows utilities to seize private land and bypass municipal governments for infrastructure projects.

Source: Maine Public

Legal pot faces final public hearing test in Maine

Maine’s tentative rules about legalized recreational marijuana are up for a key hearing that could represent one of the proposal’s final hurdles before approval.

The proposal is scheduled for a public hearing before the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs on Monday at 1:30 p.m. The proposal covers important subjects such as retail and licensure rules.

Source: AP

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