October 18, 2019
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Oakfield wind project wins court challenge on environmental concerns

First Wind | BDN
First Wind | BDN
Construction on the Oakfield wind farm takes place in this September 2014 file photo.

A federal judge has rejected challenges to federal permits for a 50-turbine wind farm in Oakfield that broke ground in September and shipped components to Searsport on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy on Monday ruled in favor of the wind project developers, SunEdison, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others, denying motions for summary judgment from environmental groups and people who own camps in the area.

Those plaintiffs argued the Army Corps of Engineers made mistakes in approving a permit for the $360 million project, which involved filling in certain wetlands and streams.

Levy said in an order issued Friday that he found fault with the plaintiffs’ arguments that the Army Corps did not adhere to the proper scientific standards or processes to determine that the project did not violate the federal Clean Water Act and other laws protecting endangered species.

The ruling came in favor of Evergreen Wind Power II LLC and Maine GenLead LLC, subsidiaries of the wind power developer First Wind, which was purchased and became a part of solar power giant SunEdison through a deal that closed in January.

The ruling also denied a motion for summary judgment from the plaintiffs Protect Our Lakes and the Forest Ecology Network and other individuals.

Both sides argued before Levy in a Feb. 12 hearing in Bangor, where plaintiffs contested that the Army Corps of Engineers should have requested a formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in approving the permit and that it should have given the project specific permissions for the possible “taking” of endangered bald eagles and Atlantic Salmon.

Levy found the Army Corps did not violate federal law in approving the permit without those specific authorizations.

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