February 24, 2022
Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in opposition to LD 1979
Dear Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,
Friends of Casco Bay submits the following testimony in opposition to LD 1979. This bill compromises Maine’s ability to require adequate fish passage at hydropower dams. For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Fish passage, such as that required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at dams owned by Sappi on the Presumpscot River and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), is essential to a healthy Bay. Friends of Casco Bay opposes any efforts that would diminish DEP’s authority.
We oppose LD 1979 for the following reasons:
- Section 1 requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry (DACF) to develop river management plans for every major river in the state. DACF lacks the expertise or the staff to do this. It already has this authority and is not fulfilling it.
- Section 2 of the bill prevents our natural resource agencies from recommending fish passage standards that are stricter than FERC’s fish passage recommendations. Maine needs this authority to protect endangered species. Section 2 also prevents DEP from denying a license to dams that do not meet state water quality standards because FERC failed to require adequate fish passage requirements.
- This bill threatens Maine’s delegated authority under the Clean Water Act. EPA will review Maine’s program later this year. EPA could consider this bill in contravention to Maine’s delegated authority and revoke it.
For these reasons, Friends of Casco Bay requests that this Committee vote that LD 1979 Ought Not To Pass.
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay