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Another View -- John Harrigan: Holding fast against Northern Pass

June 12. 2012 10:36PM

Editor's note: This column first ran as an editorial in The News and Sentinel of Colebrook. It is reprinted with permission.

The word around the countryside is that the people trying to foist the gargantuan Northern Pass project on northern New Hampshire have their targets narrowed down to a fine focus and are simply going around adding zeros to their proffered checks. They know that money talks in an ailing economy, and especially in a region that has lost almost everything but its people, their land, its beautiful scenery, and the tourism on which we now almost totally depend.

Even though New Hampshire does not need and will not get this allegedly cheap power - our state actually exports almost as much power as it uses - Hydro-Quebec and its cronies seem gallingly confident that they can use our proud state and territory as a doormat, an extension cord, a conduit, or pick your term (sewer pipe?) to make billions by funneling not-so-green power (more on that in a minute) to lucrative markets far to the south.

Well, not so fast. The game, if such a travesty can be called that, is far from over. There are holdouts - landowners who do not desperately need the money, love the land, and want to do the right thing as stewards for today and beyond - who need our support and encouragement.

Roadside signs might seem like a pathetic and insignificant weapon against a $16 million, grease-the-ways slush fund, highly paid lobbyists, fat checks for hard-pressed landowners, and empty promises (those low-paying, flash-in-the-pan jobs, for instance). But those signs get noticed, and people all over the state who come here to visit or have camps and second homes here are talking about the unprecedented grassroots, nonpartisan uprising against this not-for-need, all-for-greed proposal.

To that end, I've made up the latest batch of pathetic, insignificant signs, urging people who care about the country to hold fast against Northern Pass. They're weather-proof, and are available at the News and Sentinel's front office for free, although there's a collection box for anyone who can chip in a buck or two to help cover printing costs.

As for 'green power,' that's another big lie. What's 'green' about flooding millions of acres and billions of carbon-sequestering, oxygen-producing trees? That's what Hydro-Quebec has been doing for four decades and is still doing, right down to sacrificing the last major free-flowing river system in Qubec's North Shore St. Lawrence drainage, displacing native peoples and burying their ancestral villages, fishing places and burial sites under megatons of water.

A consortium of local and far-flung strategists has been playing a not-so-fun game of chess against these get-rich-and-never-mind-the-consequences corporations, trying to figure out where they're going next and how to get there before they do, and they think there is still a pretty good shot at checkmate. Call it hope, or tilting at windmills, but it's there.

As for what's at stake, I encourage anyone who truly does not know the enormity of this project to take a drive out along Route 145, the so-called 'back road' from Colebrook to Pittsburg, and stop at the top of Ben Young Hill. Get out, and take a look at the magnificent vista sprawling out over the countryside as far north, west and south as the eye can see. The very thought of so utterly despoiling such a great stretch of God's Country purely for private gain can break a lover of the landscape's heart, and it does.

John Harrigan is a columnist for the New Hampshire Sunday News and Publisher Emeritus of The News and Sentinel of Colebrook.

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