3/18/21 Press Release

CONTACT: Darryl Wood

[email protected]

 

Press Release: ACF Committee to Hear Bill to Protect Our Public Lands

LD 471 reaffirms constitutional requirement for ⅔ vote of Legislature for leases that substantially alter the use and value of public lands

 

AUGUSTA - The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee is set to hold a public hearing on Senator Russell Black’s bill, An Act To Require Legislative Approval for Certain Leases of Public Lands at 9:00 am this morning. Similar legislation was considered last session and was on track to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support, before it stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No CMP Corridor would like to thank Senator Russell Black for again bringing this important bill to the Legislature,” said Darryl Wood of No CMP Corridor. “By negotiating leases for a project that would clearly substantially alter the use and value of public lands not one, but three times, all behind closed doors, CMP and the Bureau of Parks and Lands have shown a disregard for these lands, which belong to Maine People.” 

Just two weeks after the ACF Committee voted unanimously to support a similar bill last year, the Bureau negotiated yet another lease without the required Legislative input.

“I find this action to be very disturbing” said Hon. Tom Saviello of Wilton. 

Points to consider as you cover this story:

  • In 2014, the State signed a lease with Central Maine Power for 36 acres that bisect a parcel of public land in Somerset County between Johnson Mountain and Wilson Pond for construction of the NECEC Corridor.
  • Even though the Corridor would significantly alter the value and use of the public land, and destroy critical wildlife habitat, it was granted behind closed doors and without the required legislative input in both 2014 and 2015.
  • A third secret lease was again negotiated by the current administration in 2020 to circumvent legislative approval (see information gained from a FOAA of Governor’s office below).
  • After being highly critical of former Governor Paul LePage for seeking outside counsel without permission, Governor Janet Mills sought outside counsel on this renegotiated lease without first seeking permission from the AG’s office.
  • Both administrations ignored that 1993, 72% of Maine voters to amend the Maine Constitution to include Article IX, Section 23 to the Maine Constitution, which states: “State park land, public lots or other real estate held by the State for conservation or recreation purposes and designated by legislation implementing this section may not be reduced or its uses substantially altered except on the vote of ⅔ of all the members elected to each house. The proceeds from the sale of such land must be used to purchase additional real estate in the same county for the same purposes.”
  • Even though the law, and our Constitution are very clear, two different administrations entered into illegal leases with CMP for construction of the unpopular NECEC Corridor on OUR lands.
  • This bill simply reaffirms that the Bureau of Public Lands must secure a ⅔ vote for the approval of their lease with CMP.

From: Anthony Calcagni

Sent: Monday, April 20, 2020 10:01 AM

To: William Harwood <[email protected]>

Subject: RE: CMP lease with BPL

Bill, here’s the summary of the substantive revisions in what I just forwarded to Eben Adams:

  • With input from Andy Cutko, we’ve characterized this as an “Amended and Restated Lease,” and added a provision in Sec. 23 that specifies this Amended and Restated Lease expressly supersedes the 2014 Lease. (As opposed to just signing a new Lease and signing a separate agreement to terminate the 2014 Lease.) Idea is to help show that this 2020 Lease does nothing to “substantially alter” the leased premises now, while still providing a new lease agreement that is being executed after the 2019 CPCN.

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