"Northern Pass expects that public process to conclude this month [January 2011]. At that point, Northern Pass will be in a position to include the preferred crossing as part of the Application, before DOE begins the NEPA scoping, public comment and review process. The U.S. public will, therefore, have a full and fair opportunity to comment on the location of the border crossing long before the DOE renders a final decision on the Application.”
It is now February 14, the EIS scoping process has ticked away three days without this crucial information being made public, and the clock is running until the March 14-19 public meetings. Email Brian Mills (address below) to demand this information now so that you may at least know a month in advance how the project will affect you. One would have expected this information to have been included in Northern Pass's initial application on October 14, 2010. Many of the 200-plus interveners and commenters protested its absence. These protests are on the public record on the DOE-Normandeau EIS site, where there is also a comment form to enter your comment. All comments and other correspondence on the EIS are made public on the site eventually.
[At 4 p.m., February 14, Northern Pass revealed the border crossing to the Pittsburg selectboard; at 6.30 p.m., to the Clarksville selectboard. Route maps are to be available on http://www.northernpass.us/ on Feb. 15.]
The Environmental Impact Statement process, conducted jointly by the DOE and Normandeau Associates, is now described here. As more information becomes available, it will be revised and updated. This page may not present full or accurate information at this time. Additions and corrections will be incorporated as this complex process is clarified to the public. You must do your own research on the process, including contacting Brian Mills of the DOE concerning your questions. His email address is below.
And, just in case you are wondering, this new set of meetings and hearings is still part of the Presidential Permit application process, which requires an EIS. Presumably, all of the concerns raised in the record number of intervener petitions and less formal comments filed in December 2010 will be rolled over into the scoping summary, which categorizes and counts the number of comments (see the sample scoping summary for CHPE just completed in December 2010, below), but we'll get try to clarification on that.
Two Basic Opportunities for Public Involvement in the EIS: Public Meetings and Public Hearings, both with written comment periods
1) the initial "public meetings" to indicate what should be scoped (studied) will be in March 2011 (specific dates below), with opportunity for written comments until April 12, 2011;
2) then, after the draft EIS has been published, there will be "public hearings" with opportunity for subsequent written comments. There are no firm public hearing dates yet but the DOE plans to issue the draft EIS in late November 2011 with public hearings and comment period to run during the next 45 days, i.e., December 2011-January 2012. (Happy holidays!)
What is the difference between the meetings in March and the hearings at the end of the year? The meetings and written comment period that ends April 12 is your last chance to register concerns before the process begins to harden into drafting the EIS report. When the draft report is published, it will have narrowed down to the one choice that DOE recommends. At the subsequent hearings, if you still have concerns, you will then be trying to convince the DOE to change its recommendation in the draft report that will have taken upwards of a year to produce. The optimal time for your input is now, in the public meeting and comment stage in March-April.
Also, an "impact" as defined in the EIS is a positive or negative effect, or both. Therefore, you can anticipate that proponents as well as opponents of Northern Pass will register their views in the public meetings and written comment period that closes April 12.
Public Scoping Meeting Dates (March 15-19) and Locations
1. Pembroke NH, Pembroke Academy cafeteria, 209 Academy Road, Monday, March 14, 6-9 p.m.;
2. Franklin NH, Franklin Opera House, 316 Central street, Tuesday, March 15, 6-9 p.m.;
3. Lincoln NH, The Mountain Club on Loon, Hancock Room, 90 Loon Mountain Road, Wednesday, March 16, 6-9 p.m.;
4. Whitefield NH, Mountain View Grand Hotel and Resort, Presidential Room, 101 Mountain View Road, Thursday, March 17, 6-9 p.m.;
5. Colebrook NH, Colebrook Elementary School, 27 Dumont Street, Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m.
Reserve Your Speaker Slot Now
If you wish to speak at one or more public scoping meetings, you may email Brian Mills and queue up in advance until March 11. There is a set amount of time, 3 hours, for public meetings. If the transcripts from the CHPE public meetings (linked below) are any guide, as much as the first hour of the meeting could be given over to PSNH to present the Northern Pass; then elected officials and others representing organizations that may be for or against Northern Pass could be given time; then the public, which will likely include proponents and opponents, gets the floor. It is unknown whether the meetings can extend beyond 3 hours or whether members of the public who have not had the opportunity to speak will be asked to send in written comments. If you want to be certain that you will get floor time, send in your request now.
Requests to speak at one or more public scoping meeting(s) should be received at the address indicated below by March 11, 2011; requests received by that date will be given priority in the speaking order. However, requests to speak also may be made at the scoping meetings.
Requests to speak at a public scoping meeting, comments on the scope of the EIS, and requests to be added to the document mailing list should be addressed to: Brian Mills, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585; by electronic mail to Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile to 202-586-8008. For general information on the DOE NEPA process contact: Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585; by electronic mail at askNEPA@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile at 202-586-7031.
More Information on Public Scoping Meetings for Northern Pass is here.
Study documents from the ongoing Champlain Hudson EIS:
Transcripts from the Public Scoping Meetings for the ongoing Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) Presidential Permit application are here. Public scoping comments are here. The Scoping Summary (December 2010) is here.