Last week, by remand order of Maine’s Law Court, the Board of Environmental Protection heard oral arguments by attorneys for opponents as well as for Nordic Aquafarms. The question at hand was what impact, if any, did the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Title, Right, and Interest of an intertidal area of land have on the permits awarded to NAF in 2020.
The short answer to that question is none. Furthermore, the Commissioner of the DEP has the sole authority to revoke or suspend permits once they’ve been issued (pursuant to 38 M.R.S. § 342(11-B) and Chapter 2, § 25). Commissioner Loyzim, by request of Nordic Aquafarms as well as Upstream Watch, granted a suspension of the permits in April 2023.
Attorney Kim Tucker called for Board member Mr. Pelletier to recuse himself prior to the hearing. In response, he indicated there was no conflict of interest in his role with Stantec, his previous employer, nor was there a relationship of any sort with NAF. Mr. Pelletier is a certified wildlife biologist, wetlands scientist, and professional forester with over 20 years of experience in wildlife ecology. It’s safe to say any input came from the perspective of one with an extensive background in science.
Given the narrow scope for which the BEP must operate with the remanded case in answering the Law Court’s questions, the statutes were very clear as conveyed by counsel and staff for Dept. of Environmental Protection. The vote to approve the recommended order was unanimous.
Additionally, within the above link, it’s important to note that the suspension order excluded our MEPDES permit. A special condition of the permit requires Nordic Aquafarms to conduct water quality monitoring, and we have the results of two years of study of Belfast Bay. This is a significant amount of information for establishing a good baseline. We are looking forward to sharing those results- stay tuned!