AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) -- The Maine Supreme Court, in two separate opinions filed last month, upheld the state Board of Environmental Protection's decision to issue permits for the construction of two wind energy farms.
In the first case, the Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury, the Silver Lake Camp Owners Association and several individuals had appealed a decision by the board providing the proper permits to Record Hill Wind, LLC, to construct a wind farm in the town of Roxbury, Maine.
The citizens group argued that the board erred in denying their request to hold a public hearing and finding that Record Hill satisfied applicable licensing requirements "with respect to health effects from noise, financial capacity and the establishment of a decommissioning plan."
In the second case, Martha A. Powers Trust and Brian Raynes appealed a decision by the board giving permits to Evergreen Wind Power, LLC, to construct the Oakfield Wind Project.
Like the citizens group, Trust argued the board abused its discretion and erred in finding that Evergreen met the licensing requirements.
The Court, in both decisions, said it disagreed with the citizens' contentions and concluded that the board did not abuse its discretion or err in its findings. Justice Ellen A. Gorman wrote both opinions, filed March 24.
In the Roxbury case, the Court said the rules are "clear" that the board has discretion in deciding whether to hold a public hearing.
"The board did not err in concluding that the question of whether to hold a public hearing was within its discretion," it wrote in its 21-page opinion.
"In addition, because the record before the board was voluminous and included numerous written comments, studies and information submitted by both Record Hill and (the citizens group), we see no reason to conclude that the board abused its discretion or otherwise erred in denying (the group's) request to conduct a public hearing on the ground that the record was 'adequately developed.'"
As to the noise issue, the Court said the board's findings are supported by "substantial" evidence.
"The report of the (Maine Center for Disease Control) and the noise control consultant's opinion both support the finding that the Record Hill Wind Project will not generate unreasonable adverse health effects."
It added, "Although (the citizens group) submitted contrary evidence, "(w)e cannot reject the board's finding on the grounds that other evidence in the record supports a different factual finding."
The Court extensively referred to the Roxbury decision in the second case. In its 11-page opinion, it made nearly identical rulings.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.