THE ROLE OF STATE GOVERNMENT A permit is required under the MWDCA for the construction, reconstruction or structural alteration of a hydropower project. The MWDCA is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) in their respective jurisdictions. Statutory review criteria include consideration of financial capacity and technical ability, public safety, public benefits, traffic movement, LURC zoning, environmental impacts and mitigation and energy benefits. In relicensing, a State hydropower permit will only be required if project redevelopment or expansion is proposed in conjunction with relicensing. Thus, the State's authority to condition the operation of most hydro projects upon relicensing is contingent upon Section 401 of the Clean Water Act which requires that any applicant for a federal license or permit for an activity which may result in a discharge to navigable waters must obtain state certification that the activity will not violate applicable water quality standards.
The Maine Comprehensive Rivers Management Plan, submitted to FERC in 1987, will ensure that during FERC relicensing proceedings the State of Maine will have a strong voice on issues regarding the development and management of its rivers. FERC officially recognized Maine's plan as a comprehensive plan in November 1988, although it was referenced as a comprehensive plan in the FERC order amending the license for the Brassua project issued July 28, 1987.
As amended by the 114th Legislature, 38 MRSA §640 now requires State agencies that review and comment on Federal licensing and relicensing procedures to allow for public participation:
• Publication. At the commencement of the consultation, review and comment process, the State agencies involved shall publish notification of this fact, informing the public of the issues anticipated to be involved in the licensing or relicensing process, the timetable for processing of the license and the opportunities the public has to comment on and participate in the process. The notice shall be designed to reach readership both statewide and in the vicinity of the hydropower project, including all persons that have contacted the agencies with an interest in this matter and all potentially interested persons.