Blog Posts: Environmental and Energy Law Update

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The Environmental and Energy Law Update blog provides an analysis and discussion of the most critical and timely legal issues and announcements environmental, natural resource, and energy sectors.

Verrill Helps State’s Largest Solar Project Obtain Principal Environmental Permit

The 100-megawatt Three Rivers Solar Project in Hancock County, Maine has obtained its combined Site Law and Natural Resources Protection Act permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Three Rivers Solar will become the largest solar project in the state, twice the size of the next largest facility...
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Maine Supreme Court Decides Seaweed Is a Plant, Not a Fish

Seaweed
After deliberating for a year and a half in Ross v. Acadian Seaplants , the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has unanimously held that rockweed, a type of seaweed that grows on rocks in the intertidal area all over the North Atlantic, is owned by the intertidal property owner, not...
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D.C. Circuit Remands BOEM Cape Wind Lease under NEPA and ESA, Punts on MBTA Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has dealt another setback to the Cape Wind offshore wind power project by holding yesterday in Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilities v. Hopper that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) violated...
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USFWS Issues Expansive Final 4(d) Rule for Northern Long-Eared Bat

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued its final rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act regarding conservation measures for the northern long-eared bat (the “Final 4(d) Rule”). The Final 4(d) Rule replaces the interim 4(d) rule issued in April, 2015 . The Final 4(d) Rule prohibits...
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WOTUS Rule Saga Gets Weirder with EPA "Covert Propaganda"

The EPA rule attempting to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction took another gut punch when the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA's use of social media in connection with its rulemaking violated anti-lobbying laws . The rule in question attempts to define the term "waters...
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EPA and States Locked in Funhouse Litigation over WOTUS Rule

Wetlands
Eighteen states that are suing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the regulation attempting to identify jurisdictional waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit...
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EPA WOTUS Rule Takes Effect in Most States - Or Does It?

The rule enacted by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers intended to clarify the scope of jurisdictional waters of the United States (often referred to as the WOTUS Rule or Clean Water Rule) was set to take effect on August 28. One day prior to that, a...
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30-Year BGEPA Take Permit Invalidated by Federal District Court

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulation allowing issuance of 30-year take permits under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The court's holding is a blow, albeit likely temporary, to wind power developers seeking...
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USFWS Explores MBTA Incidental Take Permit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it is looking into the creation of an incidental take permitting program under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Currently the regulations under the MBTA only authorize incidental take for hunting ; military readiness ; scientific collection, falconry and other special...
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Three Bat Species Listed Under Maine Endangered Species Act

Upon recommendation from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Governor Paul LePage signed a bill into law today listing three bat species under the Maine Endangered Species Act. The little brown bat and northern long-eared bat were listed as endangered, and the eastern small-footed bat was listed...
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News Flash: Wind Power Reduces Carbon, Other Harmful Emissions

A report released this week finds that wind power plays a significant role in reducing carbon and other harmful emissions in the state of Maine by displacing energy generation from traditional power plants. The study, conducted by Massachusetts-based consulting firm Sustainable Energy Advantage , examined the environmental impacts of...
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Energy Infrastructure Gets Regional, National and Global Attention

Energy infrastructure is all the rage these days. Earlier this week the White House released its inaugural Quadrennial Energy Review , which "examines how to modernize our nation's energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security and environmental responsibility." Not surprisingly, the report calls for major investments to upgrade...
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Halleluja: The Clean, Green Renewable Future Is Upon Us!!!

The American Wind Energy Association released its annual market report for 2014 today. As expected, most of the report's findings are quite positive, with "more wind power capacity under construction at the end of 2014 than at the end of any other year." Over 100 U.S. wind power projects...
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New Misguided Opponent of Renewables: Famous Novelist Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen
Author Jonathan Franzen In a lapse of fact checking and logic, the normally rigorous New Yorker magazine published a lengthy essay by noted novelist and bird watcher Jonathan Franzen that, among other things, called wind and solar power “blights on the landscape” that should be abandoned in favor of...
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New Misguided Opponent of Renewables: Famous Novelist Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen
In a lapse of fact checking and logic, the normally rigorous New Yorker magazine published a lengthy essay by noted novelist and bird watcher Jonathan Franzen that, among other things, called wind and solar power "blights on the landscape" that should be abandoned in favor of bird sanctuaries because...
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USFWS Lists Northern Long Eared Bat as Threatened Species

Bat Rendering
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will publish a final rule in today's Federal Register designating the northern long eared bat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The listing will become effective May 4, 2015, at which time an interim 4(d) incidental take rule will...
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USFWS Lists Northern Long Eared Bat as Threatened Species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will publish a final rule in the April 2, 2015 Federal Register designating the northern long eared bat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The listing will become effective May 4, 2015, at which time an interim 4(d...
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Maine High Court to Litigious Saco RV Park Owner: Let There Be Frisbee Golf

Frisbee Golf
To the delight of Frisbee golfers across southern Maine, the Maine Supreme Court has affirmed the Saco Planning Board’s approval of a Frisbee golf course in Fitanides v. City of Saco Fred Fitanides, who owns an RV park that abuts the Frisbee golf course, opposed the development and claimed...
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BOEM Reviews Lease Request for Floating Wind Turbines off Hawaii

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is in the process of reviewing a lease request submitted by AW Hawaii Wind, LLC for two proposed 408 MW offshore wind power facilities, each consisting of 51 floating 8 MW turbines. AW Hawaii Wind is a subsidiary of Denmark-based Alpha Wind...
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USFWS, Congress Explore Incidental Take Exemption Under MBTA

Bald Eagle
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reportedly planning to issue a notice of intent to create an incidental take permitting regime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The permitting scheme would theoretically allow otherwise lawful activities to go forward with greater regulatory certainty, while allowing USFWS to require...
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DOE Says 35% of U.S. Electricity Can Be Generated by Wind Power by 2050

The U.S. Department of Energy released an in-depth analysis today entitled Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States . The report models various scenarios of wind power penetration into the U.S. energy market and concludes that under "an ambitious but credible scenario" 35 percent...
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USFWS, Congress Explore Incidental Take Exemption Under MBTA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reportedly planning to issue a notice of intent to create an incidental take permitting regime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The permitting scheme would theoretically allow otherwise lawful activities to go forward with greater regulatory certainty, while allowing USFWS to require...
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USFWS Enforces MBTA Against Wind Power For Second Time

A pair of Wyoming wind power projects has pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and agreed to pay fines that add up to $2.5 million. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Department of Justice enforced the MBTA against Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp Energy...
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Firm Highlights

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Lawsuit Over Maine Beach Access

News Center Maine ran a news story, "Group files lawsuit over Maine public beach access," discussing that a group is suing property owners for beach access. The story explains that "Maine's tidal coastline is...

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32 Verrill Attorneys, Across Three Offices, Recognized in 2021 Chambers & Partners Guide

(May 27, 2021) – Verrill has been rated as a Leading Firm in a total of 11 categories and subcategories as evaluated by London-based Chambers & Partners, one of the world's most respected legal...

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Federal and State Funds to Support Maine Climate Action Plan’s Transportation and Broadband Goals

Last week, the Maine Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) and Office of Policy Innovation and the Future jointly presented to the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities, and Technology (EUT) Committee a report outlining a four-year funding plan...

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Patrick Scully Nominated to Maine PUC

On May 24, Governor Janet Mills nominated attorney Patrick Scully , who was most recently the Chief Executive Officer of Bernstein Shur, to serve a six-year term on the Maine Public Utilities Commission. For...

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Verrill Attorney Gordon Smith Comments on Lawsuit Claiming Ownership of Maine Coastal Property

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Beachfront Home Owners' Property Lines Present Challenges for Businesses

On April 22, Portland Press Herald published an article, "Lawsuit could settle debate over who owns Maine beaches between low- and high-tide lines," explaining that Maine's top court decided beachfront home owners own the...

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Swift Current Energy

Verrill represents the 100-megawatt Three Rivers Solar Project in Hancock County, Maine. Verrill assists the project with real estate and environmental permitting work, including negotiation of a protocol to allow the project to proceed...

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Verrill Helps Hancock Solar Project Obtain MDEP Permit, Protect Upland Sandpipers

The 14-megawatt Hancock Solar project in the town of Hancock, Maine has obtained its Site Law permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Verrill assisted the project with environmental permitting, which included the...

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Longroad Energy

Verrill represents Longroad Energy (“Longroad”) on its renewable energy work in Maine. Longroad is a Boston, MA-headquartered renewable energy company that develops and operates wind and solar energy projects throughout North America. Verrill has...

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Prop 65: Will the “Short-Form” be Short Lived?

Enacted as part of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”) requires businesses with ten or more employees that sell products in the state of California to...

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