The Maine DEP is proposing changes to its wetlands rules that clarify the definition of wetlands of special significance. Wetlands of special significance (WOSS) include coastal wetlands and great ponds, as well as other freshwater wetlands with certain qualifying attributes such as size, the presence of critical or imperiled plant communities, or location within significant wildlife habitat or a peatland. Activities within a WOSS are allowed only for limited purposes including health and safety, crossings by road, rail or utility lines, water dependent uses, certain expansions of existing facilities, mineral excavation, walkways, and restoration projects. The existing rule provides that any wetland that contains qualifying attributes is a WOSS. This has meant that even those portions of a wetland that do not contain the qualifying attributes were still treated as a WOSS. In some cases, this has meant heightened protection for lower value wetlands distant from the protected resource that resulted in the WOSS designation.
After more than a year of pre-rulemaking process including the issuance of two drafts, the Maine DEP has commenced formal rulemaking and today issued draft rules for wind energy developments in Maine. The formal draft largely tracks the most recent pre-rulemaking version issued in January 2017. The draft rules include standards for evaluating scenic impacts, limits on shadow flicker, provisions related to public safety, and requirements for demonstrating significant tangible benefits.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP” or “the Department”) recently adopted a new regulation that adds two flame retardants to the State’s “Priority Chemicals” list. The regulation requires that manufacturers and distributers who intentionally add decabromodiphenyl ether (“deca BDE”) or hexabromocylododecane to “Children’s Products” report that activity to the Department no later than August 31, 2017.
Attention distributors, manufacturers, and some retailers of children’s products sold into the State of Maine. The December 18, 2015 deadline to report the intentional use of formaldehyde and certain phthalates in children’s products sold into the State is less than a month away. The Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to bring enforcement actions against those failing to provide the required information by the deadline. More information about the reporting requirements can be found in previous posts published by this blog or by contacting the author directly at email@example.com.
The Maine DEP is proposing changes to the rules affecting permitting of Site Law projects. The changes primarily involve requirements related to demonstrating adequate financial capacity to construct and operate the development. Additional changes are proposed that affect phased financing, long-term (generally more than ten years) construction projects, and the burning and disposal of land clearing debris on-site. A public hearing is scheduled for October 15, 2015 at the Augusta Civic Center. The comment deadline is October 26, 2015. Comments can be emailed to Mark Margerum (Mark.T.Margerum@maine.gov) or mailed to Mark Margerum, Maine DEP, 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0017. For more information on the proposed rules and how they might impact your projects, contact Juliet Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org.