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DEP appeals ruling in Vinalhaven wind turbine case

The Department of Environmental Protection is appealing a Superior Court ruling that found in favor of plaintiffs on Vinalhaven Island, who had complained about excessive noise from three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines on the island.

In her decision last month, Judge Michaela Murphy found that Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho “had no rational basis or relevant evidence” for reversing a recommendation by her staff that Fox Islands Wind take steps to reduce the noise from its turbines and undertake monitoring.

Aho instead issued a more lenient compliance order, prompting a group of residents living near the turbines to take the matter to court.

The DEP is challenging whether Aho’s action is subject to judicial review, and whether third parties have standing to challenge a DEP enforcement action “on the grounds that it is insufficiently aggressive.”

In her decision, Murphy criticized Aho for her involvement the case, noting that the commissioner formerly worked as a lobbyist for the Pierce Atwood law firm, the same firm that represents Fox Islands Wind.

Read Judge Murphy’s original decision.

Read the Department of Environmental Protection’s appeal.