During the week of September 23, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has scheduled four additional public scoping meetings in different communities in New Hampshire as part of the scoping process for DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Northern Pass transmission project.
As with the well-attended meetings more than two years ago, these new meetings are a vital opportunity to explain your concerns about the project to DOE officials. These meetings are the last in-person moments to influence DOE’s decisions on the scope and content of the draft EIS, including the environmental and social impacts of the project to be considered and the alternatives to be seriously studied. Those decisions will have lasting ramifications as the federal and state permitting processes continue. Here is the schedule:
Monday, September 23, 2013, 6–9 p.m., Grappone Conference Center, Concord, NH (map)
Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 5–8 p.m, Plymouth State University, Silver Center for the Arts, Hanaway Theater, Plymouth, NH (map)
Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 5–8 p.m., Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, Presidential Room, Whitefield, NH (map)
Thursday, September 26, 2013, 5–8 p.m., Colebrook Elementary School, Colebrook, NH (map) (this meeting was moved from a smaller location in W. Stewartstown)
Each meeting will include both an “informal workshop” and a more formal session where the public will have the opportunity to make brief statements. In the 2011 meetings, speakers were limited to 3 minutes. If you want to speak, we advise that you reserve a slot in advance by emailing DOE’s Brian Mills at Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov. The formal portion of the meeting will be transcribed by a stenographer, and all public testimony will be included in the official administrative record of DOE’s review of the project.
Even if you aren’t interested in making any remarks in the formal session, please attend and bring your neighbors, friends, and family. The turnout at these meetings is important to the course of the permitting process, and many will be watching to gauge the public’s reaction to Northern Pass’s revised route. Showing up matters!
You can also weigh in with written scoping comments on DOE’s EIS website. The deadline for these comments is November 5, 2013. (The deadline to file comments with DOE on the amended application and to “intervene” remains September 18.)
What should you say or write? Any reasonable concern or question about the proposed Northern Pass project and alternatives is relevant to the scoping process and will help inform DOE’s decision-making. As a starting point, it may be helpful to review the maps of the project route prepared by Northern Pass Transmission LLC in its amended permit application; both the maps and the application are available at DOE’s EIS website. CLF’s Northern Pass site, our detailed 2011 scoping comments, and three years of our Northern Pass blog posts are also at your disposal. Consider submitting comments on the potential impacts of the project on communities, the White Mountain National Forest, the climate, wildlife, forest resources, wetlands, recreation areas, the renewable energy sector, the local economy, and natural resources in Canada. And don’t hesitate to tell DOE, once again, that its review of the project needs to be more fair, transparent, and objective than it is now. Note also that Northern Pass’s many rejections of potential alternatives to the project, including in its permit application, aren’t the final word, and DOE must conduct a rigorous review of all reasonable alternatives, including not building the project, and alternative routes and project designs that may have fewer impacts. It’s well settled that an objective and comprehensive analysis of alternatives is an ironclad legal requirement and, indeed, the heart of the federal environmental review of the project.