"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
2012 October 15
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Defunct Quoddy Bay LNG Lose Again
BIA-'Approved' Lease Was Never Valid, Project Opponents Vindicated
US Department of Interior (DOI) Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) Law Judge Deborah G. Luther ruled on October 4th that a 2005 lease agreement between the Pleasant Point Tribal Government in downeast Maine and now long-defunct Quoddy Bay LNG was invalid from the start. The BIA violated its own regulations, so the lease 'never went into effect as a matter of law.'
Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance's Passamaquoddy tribal member organization Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (NN; "We Take Care of Our Land") originally took the June 2005 ground lease approval to task in Federal District Court on 2 November 2005. A number of court hearings, decisions, appeals, and court reversals followed. Eventually, it was determined that the US District Courts did not have jurisdiction until the issue had gone through the DOI IBIA "administrative appeal process." The October 4 IBIA Law Judge decision fulfills that requirement seven years after the lease was improperly "approved" by the federal government, indicating that the lease was never valid. The judge indicated that her decision also moots the current appeals to previous BIA decisions that were filed by both NN and by Quoddy Bay LNG.
The IBIA judge has asked the parties to file briefs regarding her decision that NN's and Quoddy Bay LNG's appeals are now moot.
Commenting on the Judge Luther's decision, Passamaquoddy tribal member and NN organizer Vera Frances stated, "We are pleased with this closure, and know now what we knew then, that the ground lease was always invalid. But what we need to do today is to move on and close this chapter with grace and deep appreciation for that which has always sustained us — Passamaquoddy Bay.
"In a special place like ours, there's always more work ahead. We want to express our gratitude for the exemplary work done on NN's behalf by the Vermont Law School's Environmental and Natural Resource Law Clinic. I remain committed to do what it takes to defend Passamaquoddy historic and ancestral waters," Francis concluded.