Today, CLF, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests filed joint comments with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) bearing a simple message: the Northern Pass project’s new “amended” application for a federal Presidential Permit once again doesn’t cut it. The application, filed in July, fails to provide the comprehensive and required information that DOE and the public need to evaluate the project. This time, project developer Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) should not get another bite at the apple.
After more than two years of self-imposed delay and thousands of good-faith comments from the public expressing concerns about the project’s impacts and offering a wide range of potential alternatives, project developer Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) has had ample opportunity to right the wrongs in its original, incomplete permit application by fully describing the practical alternatives to the project and its important environmental impacts, including at the project’s power sources in Canada. Instead, as we say in our comments, NPT’s 80-page amended application amounts to a poorly cited legal brief. It fails to include much of the detailed technical and environmental information in NPT’s possession and seeks to avoid thorough and rigorous review of the project and alternatives by dismissively branding each and every alternative to the current proposal unreasonable and impractical.
Why is what’s in NPT’s application so important? For one, the content of the application provides the crucial starting point for DOE’s review of the project and its alternatives. And the application also should provide a set of sound technical and environmental information about the project and its alternatives that the public can reference, evaluate, and hold NPT accountable for. This is especially important in the wake of a saturation public relations campaign that superficially touts the project’s supposed benefits, including a series of “open houses” where project officials control the agenda and won’t answer key questions.
CLF and its partners agree: NPT had its chance to present a revised project, an amended permit application, and a new approach that respected host communities, acknowledged the feasible alternatives to overhead transmission technology outside the original corridor, and made a credible environmental and economic case for increasing imports in the context of the region’s overall energy future and in the face of its affiliate PSNH’s stubborn insistence on continuing to operate uneconomic, dirty coal plants. With its barely changed “new route” and unwavering adversarial stance, NPT blew it.
As CLF’s President John Kassel made clear this summer, the region should pursue a robust regional discussion of the right approach to importing more power from eastern Canada. But without even the solid ground of a complete federal permit application, NPT’s proposal should stop here.
Don’t forget: next week, Show Up and Speak Out at the Final Round of Public Scoping Meetings for Northern Pass, and tomorrow is the deadline for intervening or filing specific comments on NPT’s amended Presidential Permit application.