April 12, 2011

Forest Society Responds to Northern Pass

In response to comments submitted by Northern Pass to the Dept. of Energy today, The Forest Society is renewing its call for Northeast Utilities, PSNH, N-Star and Hydro-Quebec to withdraw their Presidential Permit application.

"These latest comments reinforce the fact that this proposal is not ready for the Permitting Process and needs to go back to the drawing board," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. "This latest filing also underlines the reality that there is little, if any, public benefit in the proposal and is designed to benefit Northeast Utilities and Hydro-Quebec."

Northern Pass acknowedged that certain of their alternative routes "are so lacking in public support that they should no longer be deemed practical alternatives," and consequently withdrew their support of those alternatives.

"Unfortunately, they seem to only be able to hear out of one ear," said Jack Savage, VP Communications. "We have maintained that their preferred route is also lacking in meaningful public support. For that reason, as well as the many other substantive problems with the proposal, Northern Pass should start over."

In its 13-page legal brief, Northern Pass maintains:

1. That its Presidential Permit is complete, and that it has no obligation to describe alternatives that do not "serve the purposes for the Project."
2. That a post-scoping public comment period, as requested by several organizations including the Forest Society,  is "unwarranted."
3. That burying the proposed transmission line is "not practical" and "would have a prohibitive cost."
4. That placing the proposed transmission line underwater is "not a reasonable alternative".
5. That using the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPEI) line because "it would not meet the Project's purpose."
6. That it only wants to consider its preferred route and no longer supports certain alternative routes because "several of the alternatives...are so lacking in public support that they should no longer be deemed practical alternatives."
7. That it supports an extension of the scoping period (as previously requested by the Sen. Shaheen, Sen. Ayotte, and Congressman Bass,) in order to "pursue the identification of different potential routing options for portions of the preferred route", particularly in the North Country.

Paula Tracy has a good follow-up on reaction in the print-only edition of the Union Leader. Kathy McCormack's AP story can be read here. Read Tara Ballenger's story based on PSNH's announcement can be read in the Concord Monitor here.

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