Fate of CMP corridor argued before the Maine Supreme Court
PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - Two cases pertaining to the future of the CMP corridor were heard Tuesday in front of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday.
The first case, Russell Black v Bureau of Parks and Lands, questions the legality of the lease of land from the Maine BPL to CMP and the Northeast Clean Energy Council for the purpose of the project. The second case, NECEC Transmission v Bureau of Parks and Lands, will decide the legality of the referendum itself.
Attorneys for CMP’s parent company Avangrid and the NECEC argued that they have the vested right to build the corridor due to previously approved permits that the legislature, which enacted the referendum result, cannot touch, and that the referendum represents an illegal “Ex Post Facto,” or retroactive law.
“It’s a bedrock constitutional principle that applies for everyone,” said CMP general counsel Scott Mahoney. “Once you have the permission from the government and you begin your work, they can’t change the rules of the game and take it away from you.”
Lawyers for the Natural Resource Council of Maine and referendum petitioners say that only the legislature has the right to control public lands.
“The legislature has broad authority over the public lands,” said attorney Jamie Kilbreth, who represented the NRC of Maine. “Nobody can have a vested right in the lease of public land that trumps the legislative power.”
In the Russell Black case, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the lease should be sent back to the BPL, which had originally approved it. Avangrid’s lawyers argued that doing so would produce the same outcome. That case would be moot, however, if the referendum result is upheld.
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