Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy’s decision regarding a wind turbine project on Vinalhaven is a crucial decision whose implications have less to do with wind energy than with whether Maine’s environment is safe in the hands of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho.
Murphy found that Aho gutted project requirements carefully formulated by the attorney general’s office and DEP’s technical staff. Aho intervened soon after leaving her lobbying job with a Portland law firm, thereby assisting the project developers, who were and continue to be clients of that same law firm.
Murphy found “no competent evidence” and “no rational basis” to support Aho’s decision. Aho’s behavior could reasonably be “viewed as antithetical to the common notions of impartiality which Maine citizens understandably expect from decision makers in Maine agencies,” Murphy wrote, suggesting Aho not participate further.
That’s not likely, however. Aho has waged a prolonged fight against the neighbors who brought this case, claiming that the court has no authority to review her decision and that the neighbors can’t challenge her decisions in court.
Aho’s personal intervention (not DEP’s) has cost Maine taxpayers and the neighbors dearly. The developer is quoted as having paid $1 million in legal fees. (To whom? Aho’s law firm, presumably.)
Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long list of Aho’s misdeeds. She may be great for her former law firm and its clients, but she is a disaster for Maine.
The LePage administration has abused a sacred trust by subverting its environmental responsibilities to personal and insider agendas.
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