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Laurence Tribe To Represent Alliance In Appeal Of Cape Wind Contract With NSTAR

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SOURCE Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound

Nation's leading expert on constitutional law sees strong reasons for reversal that could signal the end of long-stalled Cape Wind project

BOSTON, July 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Noted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe has agreed to represent the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound in its appeal of a federal court decision, which dismissed a multi-party challenge of Cape Wind's high priced contract with NSTAR.

Professor Tribe is a University Professor at Harvard and a Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School – and he is long considered one of the nation's leading authorities on the Constitution and the author of the most-cited treatise on the Constitution. He is expected to argue that the decision earlier this year in favor of Massachusetts regulators, NSTAR and Cape Wind by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns seriously misinterpreted the Constitution's Eleventh Amendment in dismissing the case by the Alliance, the Town of Barnstable and a group of local businesses and residents.

"The opinion of the district court relied on and quoted what my treatise on the Constitution had said about the Eleventh Amendment to reach a conclusion that neither I nor, much more importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court, would agree with – a conclusion that would make that relatively narrow constitutional provision a veritable engine of destruction for otherwise valid constitutional challenges to state laws, policies, and actions," said Tribe.

That decision was appealed by the Alliance and others to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston in June. The suit alleged that Massachusetts regulators had discriminated against out-of-state power companies – despite their lower costs – by pressuring NSTAR to buy power from an in-state energy company, Cape Wind.  The suit alleged that Massachusetts regulators also exceeded their authority in setting wholesale rates for this contract, an action reserved for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Any power generated by Cape Wind is guaranteed to be among the most expensive in the nation. According to estimates in the NSTAR contract, the purchase of power from the Cape Wind project would raise electricity bills for NSTAR customers by nearly $1 billion over the life of the contract.

"Our case alleges that NSTAR was coerced into signing a no-bid contract that violates federal law, discriminates against affordable green power producers from out of state, and burdens small businesses and municipalities with unnecessarily high electricity costs," said Audra Parker, President and CEO of the Alliance.  "The State's actions on the Cape Wind contract are even more disturbing given the increasing availability of alternative green energy available at a fraction of the price of Cape Wind."

Professor Tribe served as the first Senior Advisor for Access to Justice for Attorney General Holder in the Obama Administration.  The President is a former student and research assistant of the professor's.  Professor Tribe also argued the first of the two Bush v. Gore Supreme Court cases for former Vice President Al Gore in the disputed 2000 presidential election, and has argued dozens of other major cases in the Supreme Court. Professor Tribe is the author of over a hundred books and articles, the recipient of eleven honorary degrees, and counts among his many distinguished students both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan, as well as Judge Richard Stearns.   

Professor Tribe will be working on the appeal with lawyers from Massey & Gail and Jenner & Block.

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