Opponents take arguments over DEP permits to Maine high courtDCP representative calls appeal 'another delay tactic'
Portland — A local group that has publicly opposed the proposed construction of a 22.7 million gallon liquefied petroleum gas terminal at Mack Point has taken its arguments to the Maine Supreme Court.
According to a press release from Thanks But No Tank, the group filed an appeal with the Maine Law Court Tuesday, Dec. 4, challenging the permit that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) granted to Colorado-based DCP Midstream Partners, LP, in 2011 to build the terminal.
The Kennebec Superior Court ruled against TBNT in an order issued Nov. 13.
"We feel we have strong grounds for appeal of this permit and are optimistic about our ultimate chances for success in the law court – especially on our challenge of DEP’s refusal to consider the significant safety threats posed by this proposed facility," stated the release from TBNT.
The basis for the challenge, according to TBNT, is that DCP altered its original plans as specified by the permit.
"On Dec. 11, 2012, while our appeal was still pending in the Maine Law Court, DEP transferred its 2011 permit from DCP Midstream Partners, to its shell company — DCP Searsport LLC — and granted a significant change in the route for the mile-long LPG transfer pipeline authorized by the original permit," stated the TBNT release, "DCP and DEP called this amendment a 'minor revision' though this new route is significantly more dangerous to the environment and the surrounding population — it will take a vulnerable, above-ground pipeline through the 31 existing Irving and Sprague fuel tanks at Mack Point and their approximately 55 million gallons of volatile petrochemicals."
Additionally, TBNT argues DCP and DEP modified the permit.
"In four decades of prior court decisions, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that Maine administrative agencies were incapable of modifying permits and licenses while they are under appeal," stated the release from TBNT. "When DCP filed applications on Oct. 22, 2012, asking to transfer and modify the 2011 DEP permits, TBNT objected — telling DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho that she and DEP lacked the jurisdiction to amend or transfer the permit while TBNT’s 2011 appeal of the permit was pending. However, DEP modified the permit on Dec. 12, 2012."
Because of this, TBNT requested that the Law Court declare the 2012 permit modifications by DEP null and void on Wednesday Dec. 19.
"To allow DEP to amend a permit while an appeal is pending would force TBNT to file a second appeal against the same permit, for the same project, on essentially the same grounds," stated the TBNT release. "To allow such modifications during an appeal would be confusing and wasteful. DCP and DEP should not be allowed to keep moving the goal posts on permits that are already the subject of an appeal."
In response to news of the TBNT appeal Wednesday, Dec. 26, DCP Midstream Vice President Roz Elliott said the issues TBNT is raising have already been considered by a variety of state agencies.
"DCP is focused on the Planning Board process. All the opposition's arguments have been reviewed by the DEP, Maine Fuel Board, Army Corp and Superior Court. And they have been rejected. This is simply another delay tactic by this group," said Elliott.
Following a five-night series of public hearings on the DCP application that took place in late November, the Searsport Planning Board has scheduled an additional three nights of public hearings in January. Those hearings have been scheduled to reconvene Wednesday, Jan. 16, and continue through Friday, Jan. 18. All of the hearings will take place at Searsport District High School at 6 p.m.