Department of Marine Resources Misled the Public to Set Dam Removal in Motion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                            3/23/21

Senator Brad Farrin (R-Somerset)

(Augusta, ME) – The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is about to complete a highly important rule-making process based on false and misleading information that it provided to the public as part of that process.

On Friday, the public comment period surrounding an amendment to the state’s comprehensive plan for the Kennebec River will close, allowing the Department to complete a rule-making process that will lead to the elimination of at least two dams on the Kennebec River. The Department has accomplished this feat by misleading the public, claiming that the rule change involves “nothing more than a guidance document” that has little importance.

According to the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), however, this new rule change will amend a document that federal law requires them to follow in the licensing process for dams. By recommending that two Kennebec River dams be removed, this supposedly insignificant rule-making process will force FERC “to consider the extent to which a project is consistent with Federal or state comprehensive plans.” Reissuing a license for a dam whose very existence is inconsistent with the state plan would put FERC in violation of federal law.

This will no doubt lead to a lengthy and costly legal battle in which the Mills Administration will have to answer why it chose to use false information to affect the outcome of a rule-making process and why it has so-far refused to even acknowledge inquiries about this from elected state officials.

On Saturday, Senators Scott Cyrway and Brad Farrin sent a letter to DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher making him aware of FERC’s opinion of the gravity of the situation. He has so far refused to even acknowledge receipt of this letter. With just three days left in the public comment period, it appears that the Mills Administration is content to capitalize on the misinformation and run out the clock on the rulemaking process.

One wonders whether the many organizations who testified in favor of the rule change, include the so-called “Kennebec Coalition” condone the deception carried out on behalf of their agenda.

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