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Getting it right (of way): Northern Pass challenge rejected

February 03. 2017 12:51AM

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests doesn’t like the Northern Pass project. That’s fine.

It is going to clog New Hampshire’s court system with specious attempts to block the project. That’s not.

The latest challenge to the high voltage transmission line planned to bring cheap hydro power from Canada to the New England grid was a lawsuit claiming the state had no authority to bury the line along a state highway.

The proposed route includes a section of Route 3 that cuts through land now owned by the Society, which asserts that burying a power line through its land violates its property rights.

Property rights are crucially important and should be defended. Unfortunately for the Society, a prior landowner already sold off those rights in 1931.

This week, the New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected the Society’s claims with Chief Justice Linda Dalianis writing “We have long recognized that public highway easements may be used for the placement of public utilities, including electrical transmission lines.”

Citing power lines along public highways is an established and prudent practice. Giving landowners a veto over the use of a right-of-way defeats the purpose of having one, and would cause chaos in the utility siting process.

Should the state Department of Transportation decide to use the Route 3 option for Northern Pass, the Society promises another fruitless lawsuit.

Environment Politics Technology Courts Energy Editorial

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