The Road Less Travelled: The Maine Energy Cost Reduction Act, Econmic Federalism, and a Modern Approach to Preemption Analysis Under the Natural Gas Act of 1938
The saying “you can’t get there from here” is as authentically Maine as blueberries or lobster. Made famous in the mid-20th century by the storytelling troupe Bert and I, the colloquial phrase typifies the quirkiness and with that one often encounters north and east of the New Hampshire border. Despite the attempt at humor, the saying is apropos when one considers Maine’s position in both New England and the country. Being at the end of the line certainly has its advantages, among them being hundreds of square miles of untamed forest, and a bevy of natural resources that provide both sustenance and stunning vistas. However, isolation is a double-edge sword. For many years, Maine has struggled to revive a once vibrant manufacturing sector and following the “Great Recession” Maine’s economic growth has been sluggish, especially when compared to the rest of New England. In this struggle, the high price of energy, especially for industrial customers, has been a cause for concern. The recent closing of Verso’s paper mill in Bucksport, and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Great Northern Paper Company in Millinocket, with both companies blaming high energy costs as a precipitating factor in their demise, highlights the ongoing problem.