The New England Clear Power Join has a slender window of solely two weeks to start work on the facility line after a federal appeals court docket gave the inexperienced gentle to proceed final week. Tree removing must cease in June and July when the pups of northern long-eared bats are born and can’t but fly.
A allow issued by the Military Corps of Engineers in November prohibited tree-cutting throughout June and July, and tree crews who’re already on the job had deliberate to cease in the course of the two-month interval to guard the bats, whose populations have been decimated by so-called white nostril syndrome.
“NECEC Transmission LLC has been conscious of this prohibition for the reason that starting of the federal session and allowing course of and can adjust to it,” NECEC stated in a press release.
The northern long-eared bats are tiny — the dimensions of a small mouse — and so they dwell in timber as a substitute of caves.
The bats are listed as threatened by the federal authorities and endangered by the state authorities due to white-nose syndrome, which has killed 90% to 95% of all bats in Maine, stated Nate Webb, wildlife director on the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The New England Clear Power Join goals to function a conduit for as much as 1,200 megawatts of electrical energy from Canadian hydropower initiatives to achieve the New England energy grid.
A lot of the undertaking would observe present utility corridors however a brand new part to be lower by 53 miles (85 kilometers) of woods is the topic of a lawsuit and a possible referendum in November.
The first U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals final week rejected a request by environmental teams for a delay in development, permitting staff to proceed on the brand new part of woodlands in western Maine. The three environmental teams had sued the U.S. Military Corps for a extra in-depth environmental evaluation.
However the court docket’s determination provides the corporate solely two weeks to work earlier than the pause for the bats begins.
Whereas tree-cutting will likely be suspended in June and July, different development together with the setting of poles can proceed, officers stated. The allow from the U.S. Military Corps says tree-cutting ought to occur between Oct. 16 and April 19 “to the utmost extent practicable,” however it doesn’t forbid logging at different instances of the 12 months.
“Maine staff are being organized and reporting to their assignments to start the subsequent part of constructing crucial clear power undertaking in Maine’s historical past,” stated Thorn Dickinson, president and CEO of NECEC.
The undertaking will likely be absolutely funded by Massachusetts ratepayers to fulfill that state’s clear power objectives, if the lawsuit and the potential referendum don’t delay or derail it.
Supporters say the facility line could have the impact of lowering power costs throughout the area, along with lowering greenhouse gasoline emissions. Critics, in the meantime, say the environmental advantages are overstated and that it’ll destroy woodlands and hurt wildlife.
The undertaking beforehand acquired approval from the Maine Division of Environmental Safety, Maine Land Use Planning Fee and Maine Public Utilities Fee.
A second referendum concentrating on the undertaking is pending motion within the Legislature. The primary referendum was tossed by the Maine Supreme Courtroom on constitutional grounds.