The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2010 March 12

LNG sides fight over jurisdiction issue

by Edward French

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) is scheduled to consider on March 18 whether to assume jurisdiction over the Calais LNG applications for permits for its proposed liquefied natural gas project south of Devil's Head, Calais. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has received 45 letters regarding potential board jurisdiction over the proposal, with 43 of those letters, from supporters of the project, asking that the department retain jurisdiction and two letters, from project opponents, asking that the Board of Environmental Protection assume jurisdiction and hold a public hearing on the LNG proposal.

The commissioner of the DEP has the authority to issue permits and licenses except those concerning significant applications, which are referred to the board for consideration and decision. The board is made up of 10 citizens who are appointed by the governor and represent the public. In a February 25 letter concerning the issue, DEP Commissioner David Littell notes, "Those in favor of the board taking jurisdiction primarily allege that there is 'substantial public interest' in the pending applications. Those in opposition to the board taking jurisdiction generally advocate for the commissioner to keep jurisdiction in order to expedite evaluation of the applications."

The two letters favoring board jurisdiction are from the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission and a joint letter from representatives of two citizens' groups opposing the LNG proposal. Letters in favor of the department's jurisdiction include ones from the City of Calais, a state representative and other supporters of the LNG proposal.

Rep. David Burns of Whiting had written in his letter of support for DEP jurisdiction of the Calais LNG project that "Washington County leaders and residents are in full support of this initiative; thus I hope you will work to make this vision a reality." That statement is called "patently false" in a letter from Save Passamaquoddy Bay-U.S., which also states that "there are individuals on both sides of this issue, making it one of great public interest, making BEP jurisdiction required."

Littell says that he will inform the board at its meeting that he has concluded that there is substantial public interest in the project. Also, although those favoring the department's retaining jurisdiction believe it would expedite the evaluation, Littell writes that "the timing of evaluation and decision-making on the pending applications will be generally consistent whether the board or the commissioner have original jurisdiction."


© 2010 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.