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May 17. 2011 8:26PM

Matt Bonner: Northern Pass would make the Old Man of the Mountain sick

I love New Hampshire. If you bump into me off the court, I’m usually wearing my “In the 603” hat and a moose T -shirt. What can I say? I’m proud of where I’m from. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after many years of traveling the world playing basketball, I’m not alone.

I bump into Granite Staters all the time: on the elevator in Phoenix, at a concert in Austin, at a sandwich shop in Sacramento. Every time this happens, the person swells up with pride and joy about our home state.

It’s what sets New Hampshire apart from anywhere else in the country. We have a tremendous sense of state pride. It’s an attitude, a sense of loyalty that binds us all. It’s an autumn sunrise on Lake Winnipesaukee with brilliant foliage as far as the eye can see. It’s skiing the White Mountains after a fresh winter snowfall. It’s building sandcastles at Rye Beach during a July heat wave.

We need to channel our state pride and band together to protect it. We must stop the Northern Pass project.

Everyone knows about the 180-mile scar of 80-foot plus power lines Hydro-Quebec wants to build through New Hampshire. We’re talking destruction of the environment, private land taken by eminent domain, and basically a hideous eyesore in the middle of our state’s most beautiful country. Nobody wants that. If you bring that to New Hampshire, the Old Man of the Mountain will roll over in his grave.

Despite the obvious cons to the project, here’s my take on the big picture: Hydro-Quebec is a HUGE corporation. I’m talking more than $60 billion in assets, and they’re backed by the Quebec government. They have money and power. How else could they get away with damming virtually every major river in the province of Quebec and flooding millions of acres of land?

Therefore, it would be naive to think it’s outside the realm of possibility for Hydro-Quebec to pay off PSNH (and any other companies and private interest groups they can buy off), put a well-funded PR machine in place to spin and sell their side of the story to the public, deploy an army of lobbyists, and use their government connections to get all of the permits required to build. Such legwork includes securing a presidential permit from the Department of Energy; a White Mountain National Forest special use permit from the Department of Agriculture; a Site Evaluation Committee certificate of approval; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approval; state legislative support; environmental impact reports; economic evaluations; and more.

My point is this: do you think Hydro-Quebec is going through all that trouble for the good of New Hampshire? Do you think they really care about us and our beautiful state? There’s no way! Sure, our state gets some tax revenue and some short-lived construction jobs, but who do you think is really going to come out on top? If this project goes through, Hydro-Quebec will be laughing all the way to the bank.

That said, the Northern Pass project is not the solution to our growing electricity demands. It’s time New Hampshire and the entire country start to think long-term and big picture when it comes to our attitude on energy. We need to dedicate more effort to energy conservation, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly renewable sources (such as solar). We have the technology and resources. Let’s put them to use so that we never again have to consider outsourcing to a company like Hydro-Quebec.

In conclusion, I just want to say that I’m all for responsible corporate business in our state. To me, Stonyfield Farm is a model company. It built a very successful multi-national corporation while sticking to its socially conscious and environmentally friendly ideals. Hydro-Quebec and the Northern Pass project? Not so much. And if you mess with New Hampshire, you mess with me. That should be everyone’s attitude.

We can’t sit idle while a giant corporation uses us for profit. This whole thing stinks of a future business ethics case study. We should dip them in maple syrup, roll them in loon feathers, and send them back to the border with a note that says, “Vivre libre ou mourir!”

Get involved! Please contact your state senators, Gov. John Lynch, and New Hampshire’s congressional delegation and let them know how you feel about the Northern Pass project!

Matt Bonner of Concord plays basketball for the San Antonio Spurs.


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