Thursday, June 30, 2011

"To the extent possible": Northern Pass's Conditional Environmentalism

In the abstract, Northern Pass talks with great certitude about its commitment to the environment. On the ground, it speaks with less conviction, as this sampling of conditional statements from Northern Pass's Special Use Permit application to construct an HVDC power line in the White Mountain National Forest illustrates (emphases added).

  • Along the entire length of the Northern Pass Transmission Line, Northern Pass has attempted to design the Project to minimize environmental and other impacts as much as practicable . . . (1).
  • Care would be taken to maintain vegetation along stream banks and within wetlands to the extent possible (3).
  • As much as possible, the Northern Pass will locate [temporary work areas between 2 and 5 acres] outside of the WMNF (4).
  • Routes other than those seriously considered were deemed unreasonable based on increased social or environmental impacts or excessive costs (5).
  • Northern Pass will work with the Forest Service and other interested parties to develop an approach that minimizes visual impacts to the extent practicable (10).
  • Northern Pass will design the transmission structures, temporary work areas, and temporary access roads to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands wherever possible (11).
  • Northern Pass--in order to minimize impacts to the WMNF--is seeking to the extent possible to locate the Northern Pass Transmission Line within the existing transmission corridor in the WMNF, which is 150' wide (2).
  • Where practical, trees would be felled parallel to and within the corridor to minimize the potential for off-corridor vegetation damage (3).
  • The major factors in the routing were designed to minimize impacts to the extent practicable . . . (6).

The verb "minimize," as in "to minimize environmental impacts," occurs some 24 times in 13 pages of the SUP application.

To minimize, v., a. To reduce to the smallest possible amount, extent, size, or degree.

Building the transmission line is Northern Pass's top priority. Minimizing environmental, human, and other harm is incidental -- to the extent possible and where practical.