Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Open Letter on Northern Pass to Representative Charles F. Bass

Attorney Alan Robert Baker, Columbia, responds to Representative Bass and requests that Northern Pass's Presidential Permit application be rejected as stale and incomplete.

April 28, 2012

Representative Charles F. Bass
114 North Main Street
Concord NH 03301-4946

Re: Northern Pass Transmission LLC

Dear Representative Bass:

Thank you for your April 16, 2012 letter and the position you are taking on the ill-advised Northern Pass project. As proposed, and now as newly planned, Northern Pass would destroy some of the most scenic landscapes in our state, especially in Coos and Grafton Counties—not to mention the White Mountain National Forest. Our tourism industry in Coos is highly dependent on our beautiful natural environment. Our forested mountains, farms, lakes and rivers are our most important assets—indeed they symbolize our way of life. They are a part of our heart and soul.

The threatened presence of four or five hundred steel towers carrying huge cables coursing their way through newly cleared 150 to 200 foot corridors in Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown and Dixville is a criminal concept; and I fear every day for the potential loss threatened by Northern Pass. I also fear for the disruption this would cause and is causing to the lives of people who would have to live within sight of this visible scar and its towers memorializing the worst of the urban sprawl environment that we have so carefully avoided.

It is not just northern Coos County that would suffer. In southern Coos County and Grafton County and on south to Deerfield, Northern Pass claims it would use existing rights of way where the project will ultimately boast up to a thousand steel towers in excess of 120 feet high over existing rights of way—rights of way that were acquired 60 to 80 years ago for essential transmission and distribution of power to the people of New Hampshire. The existing structures in those rights of way are 40 to 50 foot high wooden poles. The contrast will be enormous. And who paid for those transmission line rights of way? The rate payers and taxpayers of New Hampshire paid for those rights of way. Now foreign corporations are proposing to trash our landscapes and use the people’s rights of way for the private transmission of power that is not needed and which those corporations alone will control. The primary reason for the Northern Pass proposal is for the exclusive use and profit of a foreign government-owned corporation (Hydro Quebec) and for the profit ($68 million per year) of an out-of-state holding company now headquartered in the Hartford and Boston areas(Northeast Utilities). These corporations are quite simply trying to convert an asset paid for by the people of the State of New Hampshire into their own private corporate piggy bank.

The scoping hearings held last year by the DOE made it very clear where the people stood on this proposal. Indeed, over 30 towns impacted by the Northern Pass proposal have now gone on record as opposing the Northern Pass project—with virtually unanimous votes in opposition. In my opinion, you and our other congressional representatives in Washington should now be asking the following questions:

1. How can the DOE allow the Northern Pass Application for Presidential Permit to sit in limbo on its docket with no concern for the public rights to be free of such threats and intimidation?

2. Why has the DOE not addressed the timely Motions filed to dismiss the proceedings on this Application?

3. How can the DOE refuse to post the continuing public comments on its EIS website at the same time that it permits Northern Pass to post whatever it wants?

4. How can most of the people in Coos County protect their property values and make intelligent decisions regarding their property when Northern Pass continues its refusal to disclose the ultimate route that it will take through northern Coos County?

I believe that the DOE should dismiss the current Presidential Permit Application as stale and incomplete. DOE should require Northern Pass to start over if it still intends to pursue its ill advised venture. This would help restore public confidence in the process and the ability of our governmental agencies to apply its rules even-handedly. This would also send a message to utility adventurers that they cannot use federal agencies as a playground for running flags up the flagpole to see who salutes and then stall the process while they find a new flag to fly. It would also give those who decide in the future to protect their interests the right to intervene in any new Presidential Permit Application filings. As things now stand, the time limit for timely intervention in the pending Presidential Permit proceedings of Northern Pass expired 16 months ago.

Again, I want to thank you for your thoughtful and principled position on the Northern Pass project as expressed in your April 16, 2012 letter. Please let me know if you would like any further information or if I can be of assistance in the future.

Very truly yours,

Alan Robert Baker

cc: Brian Mills, DOE (via fax 202-586-8008)
Responsible Energy Action LLC