On Wednesday, CLF received some welcome, high-profile help in its effort to ensure that the Department of Energy’s environmental review of the Northern Pass electric transmission project is unbiased, objective, and legitimate.
As noted in the Concord Monitor, Senators Shaheen and Ayotte joined CLF, its partners the Appalachian Mountain Club and Coos Community Benefits Alliance, and others, in questioning the Department of Energy’s selection of Normandeau Associates, the same consulting firm that project proponent Northern Pass Transmission, LLC has engaged to obtain other permits for the project, to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement or “EIS” for the project.
Both New Hampshire Senators sent letters to Secretary Chu (Senator Shaheen’s is here and Senator Ayotte’s should be posted here soon) demanding an explanation for Normandeau’s selection. As Senator Shaheen put it:
In order for the public and those affected by the proposed transmission project to have confidence in the DOE permitting process, it is essential that there be no conflict of interest in the approval process. While DOE, Normandeau and Northern Pass LLC have sought to address the potential conflict of interest by separating the employees and teams working on their respective aspects of the project, even the perception of a conflict is problematic given the significance of this project.
Senator Shaheen attached CLF’s and its partners’ formal objection filed with the Department of Energy to her letter. As our objection made clear, Normandeau’s conflict of interest is both clear as a matter of common sense and forbidden by the federal regulations governing the environmental review process.
The Department of Energy has not said when (or even if) it will rule on CLF’s and others’ objections to Normandeau’s selection. It is critical that it do so soon, as the EIS “scoping” process is about to kick off with a series of scheduled public meetings throughout New Hampshire in mid-March.
CLF will be an active participant throughout the environmental review process for the Northern Pass project, and an overview of the project and CLF’s concerns is here. As the process moves forward, we will be posting additional resources on the project, its impacts, and the permitting process on CLF’s website.