Environmentalists in the United States sued Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday, a week after the Republican signed an executive order halting permits for new wind energy projects in the state.
In signing the Jan. 24 order, LePage claimed that wind turbines harm Maine's tourism industry. In addition to halting the permitting of projects, the order establishes a new body, the Maine Wind Energy Advisory Commission, to "assess the economic impact" of proposed projects and to develop new state regulations for the industry."
In a complaint filed in Mainie state court, the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation claims the order violates the separation of powers clause of the Maine Constitution.
“This Executive Order is a naked political attempt to impose the Governor’s own anti-renewable energy philosophy on the people and businesses of Maine” said CLF Executive Vice President and Maine Director Sean Mahoney. “It is a clear violation of a fundamental premise of government established by the Maine Constitution – the separation of powers between our three branches. Not only is it illegal, but it is also bad for Maine’s economy where businesses need to have certainty in order to invest. As with other decisions of this Governor concerning energy efficiency and solar power development, Mainers across the state will suffer from this outrageous effort to hamstring our economic future, and CLF will do everything in our power stop it.”
The Maine Wind Energy Act, established in 2004, has a stated purpose to encourage the development of wind energy projects in the state. The ‘Legislative Findings’ (Section 3402) of the Act found that “it is in the public interest to explore for and encourage the development, where appropriate, of wind energy production in the State in a manner that is consistent with all state and federal environmental standards and that achieves reliable, cost-effective, sustainable energy production on those sites in the State that will attract investment and permit the development of viable wind energy projects”.