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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary Ernest Moniz, Department of Energy, and Letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture - Northern Pass Route

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In response to concerns from New Hampshire residents, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) have requested that the Secretary of Energy conduct an additional review and public comment period for the newly proposed Northern Pass route. The delegation also sought clarification form the Secretary of Agriculture regarding the terms of the Connecticut Lakes Headwater Conservation Easement Deed. Both requests were made in letters sent to the two agencies.

In their letter to Energy Secretary Moniz, the delegation also asked whether a federal environmental review process can move forward before Northern Pass demonstrates that it can legally pursue construction on the route it submitted.

"Because Northern Pass has altered the route from their original application, there needs to be a thorough and additional review of this new route by DOE, and stakeholders need to be given the same public opportunity to comment on the new route as they were given by DOE," they wrote to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "The question has also been raised to our offices whether DOE's NEPA process should commence prior to Northern Pass demonstrating that it has the legal capacity to construct the project pursuant to the preferred route that was submitted to the agency."

In a separate letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the delegation members sought clarification regarding the terms of the Connecticut Lakes Headwater Conservation Easement Deed, which conserves land in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown. In its amended route, Northern Pass proposes crossing into a portion of the easement area, which the delegation believes is prohibited under the terms of the easement deed.

"We do not believe that such a use of this land is permitted under the easement. Given that Forest Legacy Program funds were used to purchase this easement, we ask you to confirm the terms of the FLP grant and the Conservation Easement Deed prohibit the penetration of the Northern Pass project transmission liens and infrastructure into, on, or under the land protected by the easement," the delegation members wrote. "The potential use of this protected land for installation of a transmission line has evoked significant public concern in our state."

DELEGATION LETTER TO SECRETARY MONIZ:

The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585-0800

Dear Secretary Moniz:

Recently, Northern Pass Transmission, LLC filed an amendment to their application for a Presidential permit with the Department of Energy (DOE). Northern Pass is requesting the Presidential permit to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line across the U.S.-Canada border. The proposed HVDC transmission line would be capable of transmitting up to 1,200-MW of power into New England.

As part of the amended permit application, Northern Pass is proposing to bury roughly 7.5 miles of the 40 northern most miles of the proposed project. Additionally, they have altered the overhead portion of the route from their original application. Despite these revisions, our offices continue to be contacted by interested stakeholders and concerned constituents stating their objections to this project. Because Northern Pass has altered the route from their original application, there needs to be a thorough and additional review of this new route by DOE, and stakeholders need to be given the same public opportunity to comment on the new route as they were given by DOE when the original route was proposed. The question has also been raised to our offices whether DOE's NEPA process should commence prior to Northern Pass demonstrating that it has the legal capacity to construct the project pursuant to the preferred route that was submitted to the agency.

In our ongoing effort to ensure the transparency of the federal permitting process, and to ensure that the permitting process receives the full benefit of public review and input, we are requesting that you hold additional scoping hearings on all sections of the proposed routes. Additionally, we feel that any pertinent data including, but not limited to, geographic information systems (GIS) data points for the routes, wetland and wildlife impact studies, and historical, archeological and cultural heritage studies which have been relied on to determine these routes, be made available to the public prior to these scoping hearings.

Given that the revised plan includes many new elements, it is of the utmost importance to us that the public is provided an opportunity to have input on a thorough, transparent, and effective Environmental Impact Study. Therefore, we request that the DOE provide a preliminary report detailing which alternatives will be studied, and that this report be made public after the scoping hearings and prior to the EIS study. This is critical for the integrity of the project as well as the protection of our pristine landscape in northern New Hampshire.

This project has evoked significant public concern in our state and the outcome of your department's review of the amended application by Northern Pass is of great significance to the people of New Hampshire.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of these requests.

DELEGATION LETTER TO SECRETARY VILSACK:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585-0800

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We write to you in regard to the Forest Legacy Grant award and the resulting Connecticut Headwater Conservation Easement Deed which was granted to the State of New Hampshire in October of 2003. The purpose of this easement was to conserve land located in the towns of Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown. This easement was made possible through the use of Forest Legacy Program (FLP) funds, specifically an $11,548,000 FLP grant. As you know, FLP is a federal program administered by the USDA Forest Service in partnership with the States.

Recently, the Northern Pass Transmission, LLC filed an amendment to their application for a Presidential permit with the Department of Energy (DOE). Northern Pass is requesting the Presidential permit to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line across the U.S.-Canada border. The proposed HVDC transmission line would be capable of transmitting up to 1,200-MW of power into New England. The proposal for a transmission line includes an alternate route which would require that Northern Pass penetrate the Connecticut Lakes Headwater conservation easement.

We do not believe that such a use of this land is permitted under the easement. Given that FLP funds were used to purchase this easement, we ask you to confirm that the terms of the FLP grant and the Conservation Easement Deed prohibit the penetration of the Northern Pass project transmission lines and infrastructure into, on, or under the land protected by the easement.

The potential use of this protected land for installation of a transmission line has evoked significant public concern in our state. As the DOE reviews the amended application, information you provide on the restrictions imposed by the FLP grant and the resulting easement will help address some of the concerns raised by our constituents.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.


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