Companies Accused of Violating ESA by Endangering Atlantic Salmon

A complaint was filed Thursday in the District of Maine by Atlantic Salmon Federation U.S., Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers, and Natural Resources Council of Maine against a host of companies running hydropower projects along the Kennebec River in Maine.

The complaint cites explicit violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which protects any fish or wildlife classified as endangered that inhabit the United States or the territorial sea from being “taken,” defined by the act as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.”

The defendants are Brookfield Renewable Partners, L.P., Merimil Limited Partnership, Hydro-Kennebec LLC, Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC, Brookfield Power US Asset Management LLC, and Brookfield.

The defendants collectively run four hydropower projects along the Kennebec River in Maine, according to the complaint. These projects are said to be taking endangered species without authorization, in direct violation of the Endangered Species Act. The plaintiffs assert that the defendants’ actions are significantly affecting the Atlantic salmon’s habitat, and therefore harming the species.

The hydropower projects, according to the filing, are taking place in the critical migration corridor for Atlantic salmon, thereby damaging the critical habitat and blocking the species’ access to spawning and rearing grounds. The habitat damage is allegedly leading to the significant impairment of “essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding or sheltering.”

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory judgement and injunctive relief. Specifically, they are requesting a declaration that Brookfield’s actions are in direct violation of the ESA, an order enjoining them from engaging in the activities in the future, as well as litigation fees and other relief deemed proper by the court. The plaintiffs are represented Wiley Rein LLP and Norman, Hanson & Detroy.