In the latest development surrounding a contentious water rights issue in Maine, the chairman of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, Thomas L. Welch, issued a statement this week recusing himself in a case between the town of Fryeburg and Nestle Waters (owners of Poland Spring). Nestle is seeking an application approval of a long-term contract with Fryeburg Water Co.
Welch, who was facing pressure from observers to step down from the case due to a potential conflict of interest, cited "information subject to the attorney-client privilege" that he "gained while representing Nestle might have some bearing on a determination of the merits of the application."
He then wrote:
"I find I am unable to determine with certainty, in my own mind, whether I can completely separate that privileged information from consideration of the issues the resolution of which might prove decisive in this case. The information would be irrelevant to the decision under some legal theories, but I cannot rule out that my judgment could be affected by the privileged information even in evaluating what standard to apply."
The rest of the statement can be read here: