A judge has tossed a legal challenge of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s executive order halting wind turbine permits in parts of Maine.

Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton said in his decision Friday that he dismissed the lawsuit because environmental and renewable energy groups hadn’t proved the order will harm any current wind turbine projects. He noted that the governor has admitted that his administration is not enforcing the order.

Two groups – the Conservation Law Foundation and Maine Renewable Energy Association – had challenged the constitutionality of the order issued in January, claiming it is causing uncertainty in the wind industry.

LePage’s spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said the administration “appreciates” the dismissal, but declined further comment because of the potential for further litigation.

Conservation Law Foundation attorney Phelps Turner said the decision shows that LePage’s executive order conflicts with state wind permitting law.

“The judge dismissed the case because he found that we were not suffering any direct harm from the order, but the unconstitutional order is still subject to challenge by any wind power developer whose project application is stymied by the order,” Turner said.


Representatives of the Maine Renewable Energy Association didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

LePage’s order says no wind turbine permits are to be issued until a new wind energy advisory commission reports on the impact of wind projects. The governor claims wind turbines have a negative impact on tourism, property values and avian migratory pathways.

Lawyers for LePage said his order hasn’t blocked wind projects.

The commission is collecting public comment until Aug. 15, and court documents say its unpublicized 15 members include Governor’s Energy Office Director Steven McGrath.

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