New Hampshire Environmental Community Calls for Study of Underground Alternatives in Federal Review of Northern Pass

Christophe Courchesne

Earlier this week, seven leading New Hampshire environmental organizations, including CLF, sent a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) calling for a truly comprehensive and fair environmental review of the Northern Pass transmission project, including a complete analysis of underground transmission alternatives in New Hampshire and other statesYou can read the whole letter here; the signatories’ logos are below.

Yesterday’s announcement of the New England Clean Power Link project in Vermont confirms that underground alternatives are reasonable, economic, and likely to have significant advantages over a project like Northern Pass. It has never been clearer that DOE must carefully analyze these alternatives and weigh them in deciding whether the current Northern Pass proposal is consistent with the public interest. Contrary to the misleading arguments in Northern Pass’s flawed amended permit application, advanced underground transmission technology and potential underground routes warrant detailed study in DOE’s environmental impact statement.

Our other points:

  • DOE should broaden its view of the purpose and need for the project beyond the confines of Northern Pass’s permit application to allow for consideration of the many promising approaches that would also help meet New England’s energy needs.
  • The EIS must include a sound greenhouse gas emissions analysis of the project (something Northern Pass has utterly failed to provide), taking into account both reductions in pollution from the power sources that are displaced by the project and also the emissions of hydropower facilities in Canada.
  • The EIS must include a complete, independent analysis of Northern Pass’s visual impacts, especially on New Hampshire’s many scenic resources. Recent work by the Appalachian Mountain Club confirms that the project would have important and wide-ranging impacts in many viewsheds along its entire route.
  • The EIS must include a full assessment of the project’s impacts on the many conservation lands through and near which the project would run. Our organizations are especially concerned about the impacts within the White Mountain National Forest, where the developer is seeking special authorizations to construct the project.
  • DOE needs to stop making procedural mistakes (such as its tainted process for selecting the contractor team that will be writing the EIS) and conduct the environmental review of the project with meaningful openness, fairness, and impartiality. Our letter sets out some concrete steps that DOE can take now, such as preparing and releasing for public comment a report on which alternatives the EIS will study in detail, well before the draft EIS is completed.

DOE is still accepting public comments on the scope of its environmental review of Northern Pass, but the deadline for comments is next Tuesday, November 5. You can enter your comments directly on the Northern Pass EIS website here. With a comment filed in your own words, you can join New Hampshire’s environmental community in calling on DOE to conduct the rigorous review of Northern Pass and careful analysis of alternatives that New Hampshire deserves.


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Climate Change


New Hampshire


Northern Pass

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