In an order issued Friday in Protect Our Lakes v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 1:13-cv-402 (D. Me. Feb. 20, 2015), U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy rejected claims that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands permit to the Oakfield wind power project in Aroostook County, Maine violated the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Act and other environmental laws.
This is the second case in Maine, following Friends of the Boundary Mountains v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 24 F. Supp. 3d 105 (D. Me. 2014), which we blogged about in June, in which the court denied wind power opponents’ attempts to invalidate an Army Corps permit based on alleged violation of BGEPA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These two Maine cases join a handful of recent opinions in which federal courts have rejected similar challenges to federal approvals issued to wind power projects.
Opponents of SunEdison’s 150-MW Oakfield project had also claimed that the Army Corps violated the ESA by relying on incomplete information about Atlantic salmon streams in the project area and by not issuing an incidental take statement regarding the project’s potential impact on Atlantic salmon. In denying these claims, the court noted that “plaintiffs have failed to identify any scientific data or other new information that conflicts with the data cited in the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] letter of concurrence or runs contrary to its conclusions.”