Another View -- Pamela Martin: Looks aren't everything for Northern Pass opponentsBy PAMELA MARTIN
August 22. 2017 12:48AM
It is absolutely pathetic that the Union Leader editorial staff cares so little about the state beyond the Manchester environs that it has written such a simplistic, misinformed editorial such as “Northern Pass: It’s all about aesthetics.” It reads as though Eversource public relations actually wrote it themselves.
If the Union Leader truly wanted to know what Northern Pass is all about, they could have attended some of the endless DOE meetings throughout the state over the past seven years. They could have attended this summer’s SEC meetings and listened to the refuted testimony of Eversource’s paid consultants and the over 28 hours of public comments to the SEC. They could have attended the public meetings in Plymouth, Concord and Nashua where members of the Pessamit Innu Band Council explained how Hydro-Quebec’s industrial hydro has devastated their homeland and the fish and wildlife of Northern Quebec. They could have read the approximately 2,000 public comments on the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee website, which are running approximately 12 to 1 against Northern Pass. They could have read in their own newspaper the countless letters to the editor by members of the public who are opposed. If they had done even a few of those things they would know that Northern Pass is not “all about aesthetics” as they framed it in their one-dimensional thinking.
More than 150 scientists, environmentalists, and faith-based organizations have condemned industrial hydroelectricity as devastating to the ecosystem. Industrial hydro releases methyl mercury, poisoning fish and the people who live off the fish. It also releases methane into the atmosphere, which is many times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
Northern Pass is about property rights. The buried portion of the line will significantly impact narrow country roads in Coos and Grafton counties, in addition to wells, ancient stone foundations, stonewalls, homeowners’ trees and landscaping. Northern Pass has been misrepresenting the width of the right-of-way and ignoring the fact that the ancient roadbeds they wish to use are simply not appropriate for cable burial. Northern Pass could single-handedly take the personality and character right out of these quiet country roads.
Northern Pass is about the towns of Plymouth, Franconia and Woodstock, which would be enormously affected as Northern Pass plans to bury their cable right through the middle of these towns, causing headaches for visitors and loss of business for Main Street merchants, not to mention Plymouth State University, the New Hampshire Music Festival, Polly’s Pancake Parlor, the Flying Monkey, The Silver Center, sporting events, school graduations, emergency vehicles, countless restaurants and other downtown activities. The Northern Pass consultant testified that, yes, these particular communities might be hurt, but the rest of the state wouldn’t suffer, so just too bad for them.
What Northern Pass is not about is saving money on our electricity bills. The Union Leader printed an article stating that an economist for the Northern Pass Project predicts the annual savings for an Eversource customer using 300 kilowatts of power per month would be $18 a year between the years 2020 and 2030. That means for 10 years, a residential customer would save a $180. Is the Union Leader seriously willing to sell New Hampshire that cheaply? Shame on you.
By the way, the aesthetics that you condescended to and dismissed in your editorial are the second highest source of income for the state. Beautiful breathtaking views are why visitors come to the Granite State, and that’s why they’ll stop coming if we despoil that beauty with giant steel transmission towers. Even the proposed towers and lines in existing Eversource rights-of-way to the south would rise far above the surrounding forest canopy, making all of these industrial structures visible to residents and tourists for miles. If you don’t think New Hampshire is worth protecting and preserving, you really should get out of Manchester more often and experience the best New Hampshire has to offer before Eversource and Northern Pass destroy it.
For a respected newspaper like the Union Leader to reduce the last seven years of debate and controversy over the Northern Pass project to basically name calling opponents “Nimbys” diminishes you and insults the intelligence of your readers.
Pamela Martin lives in Plymouth.