Lawsuit: Dam Operator Is Violating Endangered Species Act

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Environmental groups contend four Kennebec River dams are violating federal law by harming endangered Atlantic salmon.

Brookfield Renewable U.S. is violating the federal Endangered Species Act because an exemption spelling out limits on the death and injury of salmon expired in 2019, according to a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Atlantic Salmon Federation U.S., Conservation Law Foundation and Maine Rivers.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, asks a federal judge to find that Brookfield Renewable is operating the dams illegally and to take appropriate steps to protect the salmon. Brookfield didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The lawsuit represents the latest twist when it comes to the fate of the four dams, including the Shawmut Dam.

It has been a roller coaster ride since the Mills administration took a step toward removing the dams before backing down after Brookfield sued.

Maine environmental regulators then threatened to deny a water certification before backing down again when Sappi North American said it could lead to the dam's removal and closure of a paper mill in Skowhegan.

Brookfield has filed a new certification request, triggering another yearlong review process.

Gov. Janet Mills, meanwhile, said she will not allow the mill to close because of its economic importance.