As reported in the Concord Monitor and the Manchester Union-Leader and on WMUR, the public was out in force last night at the first of seven public scoping meetings kicking off the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) environmental review of the Northern Pass project. More than 400 attended, and about 50 people expressed their views on the project and the issues that should be addressed in DOE’s environmental impact statement (EIS). It was a testament to the value of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that federal agencies encourage and consider public input on the environmental and other effects of agency decisions and potential alternatives to those decisions. It was also clear that the proposal, as currently presented and described by the developer Northern Pass Transmission, LLC, has very little public support; dozens of speakers from up and down the proposed route expressed opposition to the current proposal.
During the formal commenting session, I made brief remarks to insist that DOE conduct a wide-ranging and rigorous NEPA process, and I also requested that DOE provide more opportunities for public input by (1) extending the period for public comments on the scope of the EIS to May 3, and (2) releasing a proposed EIS scope and outline for public review and comment, before major efforts are undertaken to draft the EIS, to ensure that DOE is considering all relevant impacts and alternatives. CLF’s press release about the meeting is here, and my prepared remarks are here. CLF will be following up my remarks at the meeting last night with written comments as well.
If you have concerns about the project, know of environmental and community impacts that you think DOE should consider, or alternatives to the project that DOE should analyze, you can participate in the scoping process by speaking at one of the remaining meetings, or by submitting written comments to DOE by the deadline (currently April 12). All the details you need are in CLF’s one-page handout on the scoping process.