March 17, 2011

The Lincoln Log: DOE EIS Hearing #3

It was standing room only at Loon Mountain in Lincoln as some 200 people packed the Hancock Room for the third Dept. of Energy hearing regarding the scope of the Environmental Impact Study that will be conducted as part of Northern Pass application for a Presidential Permit. No one spoke in favor of the proposed power line and towers that, if built, would carry electricity from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire to southern New England.

Given the location of the hearing Lincoln, a key center for tourism and recreation associated with the White Mountain National Forest, many of the comments asked the DOE to include in the EIS a study of the impact of the proposed towers on property values and the tourism economy.

Of particular importance were comments made by Ken Kimball representing the Appalachian Mountain Club. Among the points he made was the AMC's contention that the application for the Presidential Permit is incomplete and should not have proceeded to the EIS stage. He noted that any proposed mitigation for negative impacts is absent in the application.

"With zero substantive environmental or mitigation information in the Application, though it exists, the public is strongly disadvantaged in this EIS scoping process," Kimball said.

 He also urged the DOE to include in the EIS descriptions of the negative impacts the Hydro-Quebec power generation given that the applicant is relying on the purported positive benefits as a reason to go forward with the permit. Read AMC's full statement here.

More than one speaker noted that the large scale hydro facilities that would be generating the power to be transmitted via the Northern Pass towers would not be permitted in the U.S. due to their negative impacts.

The high point of the many emotional pleas for the DOE to withhold the Presidential Permit came when Katie Rose used her three minutes to sing "Live Free or Die," her 'Northern Pass opposition song,' which can be heard here.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who has made his opposition clear for several months, reiterated his strong stand against the proposal and said he would be calling on PSNH and Northeast Utilities to "fold up their tents and go home." Hear Chris Jensen's report on NHPR.

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