(Right) View of the Little River, Penobscot Bay, and the proposed site of Nordic's operation (photo captured during Lighthawk flight). (Left) One of Upstream Watch's attorneys, David Perkins, presents oral arguments before the Board of Environmental Protection in October.
On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, Upstream Watch filed an appeal of the environmental permits issued to Nordic Aquafarms by the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Kennebec County Superior Court. Upstream also appealed BEP’s October 2023 decision to not revoke these permits on remand from the Maine Supreme Court.
With this filing, Upstream Watch is seeking review by the Court of two final agency actions of BEP and the Commissioner of the Maine DEP. The first is their November 2020 issuance of permits to Nordic Aquafarms under the Maine adaptation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, the Maine adaptation of the Federal Clean Air Act, the Site Location of Development Act, and the Natural Resources Protection Act. The second is their remand decision, and the failure of BEP and the Commissioner to revoke and return Nordic's licenses after Nordic admitted it could not show title, right or interest in all of the property that is proposed to be developed or used in their operation.
After the issuance of these permits in November 2020, Upstream Watch initially appealed this decision in December 2020 all the way up to the Maine Supreme Court. The Court ultimately remanded the case back to BEP in May 2023, directing the Board to determine the impact of the Mabee I quiet title action on these permits. On October 19, 2023, after hearing presentations from Upstream Watch’s attorney, as well as those representing Friends of Harriet Hartley, Judith Grace and Jeffrey Mabee, the Northport Village Corporation, and Nordic Aquafarms, BEP unanimously found its approval of Nordic Aquafarms’ permits issued in November 2020 is not impacted by Mabee I. BEP also stated that they as a Board do not have the authority to rescind or amend permits once issued; that authority lies solely with the DEP Commissioner. On October 31, 2023, the DEP through its Commissioner, dismissed petitions by Upstream and others to revoke Nordic’s permits.
It continues to be frustrating that these proceedings and appeals are a direct result of Nordic applying for permits on land that is not theirs. Litigation costs continue to mount for Upstream, as does the drain on time and resources to the City of Belfast, the Court system, and state environmental agencies over a project that still cannot be built because Nordic does not own or have access to all of the land required for their operation. We remain committed though in our efforts to oppose this ill-conceived project that would have long-lasting impacts to the Little River and Penobscot Bay, and look forward to presenting our case before Superior Court.
Our filing with the Kennebec Superior Court is included below.