Boston, Mass. (January 25, 2018) – After more than eight years of steady opposition to Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission project, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) today strongly condemned the selection of Northern Pass as the winning bidder to provide Massachusetts with new sources of low-carbon energy. The selection in Massachusetts was made by a committee comprised of Eversource itself, in addition to National Grid and Unitil, and advised by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
“It is hugely disappointing that the Massachusetts committee would disregard the overwhelming opposition to this project in New Hampshire, and the negative impacts it will have on the state’s iconic landscape and natural resources,” said Susan Arnold, AMC’s vice president for conservation. “Despite other options to achieve the RFP’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, it appears that the Massachusetts selection committee is happy to export the many harmful effects of this project’s 192 miles of mostly above-ground transmission lines, including more than 1,800 towers up to 165 feet high, to New Hampshire.”
AMC, the oldest conservation and recreation organization in the country, provided strong evidence to the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) that the project as proposed will have unreasonable adverse effects on the aesthetics and natural environment of New Hampshire. The SEC decision on the Northern Pass permit application is expected by the end of February. Without SEC certification, Northern Pass cannot build the project.
“The Massachusetts selection committee’s choice suggests that Northern Pass is a buildable project within the proposed timeframe,” Arnold continued. “In reality, the project’s fate at the SEC remains uncertain, and regardless of the SEC’s decision there will be legal challenges that could delay the project even further. More than eight years have gone by since this contentious project was first proposed, largely because of Northern Pass’s failure to properly address the project’s many flaws. The fight against Northern Pass is one of the fiercest environmental battles in NH history, with the public overwhelmingly opposed to the project. It seems only common sense to expect further delay and contentiousness.”
The 192-mile transmission corridor would pass through 31 NH towns from Pittsburg to Deerfield, and all but one of these towns (Franklin, where the converter station would be located), have officially opposed the project in town meeting warrants or other official means. Twenty-two of these towns intervened in opposition to the Project at the SEC. The thousands of public comments filed in the SEC proceeding run more than 15 to 1 against the project. Of 19 intervenor post-hearing briefs submitted to the SEC, only three supported granting the project a permit.
“Massachusetts had other options on the table to reduce carbon emissions—a laudable goal– without the extreme impacts that Northern Pass would have on New Hampshire’s environment, economy, and scenic character,” Arnold concluded. “Since Eversource has just taken advantage of a process in which it sat on a committee to select itself, it’s now time for the SEC to make an unbiased decision based on New Hampshire law, and in New Hampshire’s best interest. Northern Pass, unless fully buried, should not be built.”