Dec 16, 2009

Maine Laws & Regs Affecting Wind Power Development in State’s Coastal Waters

Jeff Pidot, who recently retired from a career in the Maine Attorney General's Natural Resources Division  office - a career pretty much sans reproach -  wrote an advisory report back in August at the request of the Maine State  Planning Office.  It outlines ocean windfarm-related laws & regulations affecting Maine state waters. The  31 page report  is entitled "An Independent Study of Submerged Lands Leasing and Regulatory Issues Affecting Wind Power Development in Maine’s Coastal Waters" (pdf) Some excerpts and extracts:

""Significant development projects in Maine’s coastal waters require legally independent decisions by two   State agencies: a submerged lands lease issued by the Department of Conservation (Bureau of Parks and Lands); and regulatory permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.

* Leasing decisions are made by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in the Department of Conservation
* Regulatory permitting is the primary responsibility of the Maine DEP 
* LURC and some coastal municipalities also have (lesser) roles

"Public Trust Doctrine. "In considering options for utilization of Maine’s coastal waters for wind power development, one must start with the important underlying principle that these lands and waters are held by the State, not as an absolute proprietor, but in a fiduciary capacity as trustee for the benefit of Maine people. "

"The public trust under which these lands are held imposes important restraints on their disposition to and use by private parties, and so must inform government decisions and processes in this regard."
"Although Maine law does not presently include wind power as one of the recognized public trust uses of the State’s coastal waters and submerged lands, as discussed below the Legislature may exercise its judgment to do so by making requisite findings of public needs and benefits of alternative energy production for which Maine’s coastal waters provide unique opportunities.

"Under appropriate legislative authorization, leases and other conveyances enabling wind power development should be based on adequate consideration of trust-related uses and values, mitigation of harms to those uses and values, appropriate restoration of the lands affected, and adequate compensation to the public for the use of its trust resources."

Read the  31 page report (pdf) for details

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