Owners of the Edwards Dam near Augusta in the US have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new hearing on the order that the dam be removed to restore 15 miles of fish run on the Kennebec River.

Last month, FERC ordered that the 160-year-old dam be demolished to help restore salmon and trout in the river and the decision was seen as a victory for environmentalists. But the dam’s owners, the City of Augusta and Edwards Manufacturing, saw it as politically-correct meddling by the agency. They said their request for rehearing “challenges all of FERC’s missteps along the way to its regrettable and erroneous dam removal decision”. They added that the FERC’s decision violates their constitutional right to property.

The Edison Electric Institute – which represents investor-owned utilities – said that the FREC had overstepped its authority in making the ruling. James Evans, manager of hydropower issues, said that declining to issue a new licence or ordering a dam’s removal are both “precedent-setting steps that Congress has not authorised under the Federal Power Act”.