By Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Decrying interference from “overzealous activists” in the regulatory process, Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday pressed a House subcommittee to move forward with proposals that would streamline the permitting process for natural gas pipelines and cross-border hydropower projects that could help lower energy costs in New England.

LePage testified Wednesday before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee considering a pair of bills aimed at reducing regulatory burdens on hydropower projects and speeding up permitting for natural gas pipelines.

He suggested that activists are using the current system to slow down projects.

“Overzealous activists have taken advantage of federal bureaucracy,” he told the House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on energy and power. “They’re blocking affordable energy for our citizens and businesses.”

LePage said that he’d like to make it easier for existing dams to become electricity generators, producing as much as 70 megawatts of affordable power for Maine. But the bigger projects call for installing transmission lines and pipelines to tap into surplus hydropower from Quebec and to bring more natural gas into the region from Pennsylvania.

He said Maine can’t wait three to five years - the amount of time he said it takes for pipelines to win permits - to get relief from high energy costs. “Congress must act,” he said.

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