“Stop The Madness!”

I had a lot on my mind lately . . .

I often wonder what made Hydro-Quebec and Eversource think it was a good idea (aside from profits) to build an extremely visible winding pass miles and miles and miles long of intrusive steel pylons to support high voltage transmission lines through so many towns, through and around so many homes, farms, conservation land, and businesses.

Then to find out at a recent public hearing that these high voltage transmission lines do make low level noise which increases with humidity!

And from a foreign hydropower producer that degrades the environment on a massive scale. Just one example on the Romaine River*: https://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/dam-threatens-heart-of-canada’s-wilderness-3494

Where was the responsible thinking in all this? 

I wonder about the chaos that would ensue during construction of this incredibly ambitious transmission line project. Not only would there be a broad central pass of sorts but more access roads – no?, mud, dirt, falling trees, blasting, sounds of chain saws and heavy machinery, filling in wetlands that are in the way, helicopters . . . “Hydro-Quebec’s like a bulldozer”,  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/hydro-québec-to-proceed-with-1-3b-transmission-line-project-1.3047919. Eversource do you know what type of energy producer you’re dealing with?

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Photo taken from St. Adolphe Says No to Hydro-Quebec documentary

Transmission lines are not “inevitable” in New Hampshire just because there’s a need (debatable) for electricity in other states: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Why does New Hampshire and landowners have to give up their beautiful land for other states?

Even if there’s no real need for the electricity there is an ongoing debate about the need to reduce current emissions with “clean” sources of energy. However, emissions from hydropower dams are questionable!** Hydropower is not a panacea and not clean at the source. New England may reduce emissions from its end but what about the emissions from the source in Quebec? Dams, flooded land, turbines all produce emissions.

Where’s the responsibility in dealing with such an environmentally destructive utility organization? Allowing this hydro electricity project into New England will contribute to more environmental degradation in Canada because Hydro-Quebec will need to build more dams.

Hydropower destroys the environment and wildlife habitats on a massive scale then lots of money is earmarked to mitigate the damage. I guess that part is being responsible but it’s also perverse and perplexing.

Hydropower has a negative impact on society! More dams, more flooding of land displaces people and the delivery of hydroelectricity through a high voltage transmission line project as large as the proposed Northern Pass will negatively impact so many people in New Hampshire in so many ways, serving as a daily eyesore and source of grief forever. Do people in the hydropower industry have a conscience?

The cons of hydropower are stated with the pros in everything I’ve read, even in our government’s literature. Although . . .

~ The cons are quiet pervasive and disturbing to me. Especially when the layers are peeled back to reveal that hydro power isn’t all that clean. And clearly not green. Cleaner than fossil fuels maybe but from some articles I read, not always. I guess it depends on who is writing the story.

~ The pros don’t even sound that great to me in relation to the amount of environmental destruction, impact on wildlife, degradation of landscapes and viewscapes, impact on people’s lives, reduction in property values or loss of property.

So why is New Hampshire even dealing with this hydropower energy industry? Just because it’s renewable energy doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It goes against everything that New Hampshire is.

Ahhh, the NH Forward Plan of $200 million for economic development on the heels of environmental degradation. Hydro-Quebec is the fourth largest hydropower company in the world yet they can’t afford to bury the lines. And Eversource is the largest utility company in the Northeast.

I think I’m among the majority in New Hampshire who reject the Northern Pass because of all that. But specifically because in New Hampshire many will be directly impacted by the black transmission lines and giant pylons, noisy huge transfer stations. Northern Pass will severely scar the beautiful state of New Hampshire that is revered and sought after by people around the world for its natural wealth. It will impact the environment and wildlife, will reduce property values, impact viewscapes.

And may impact tourism: who wants to escape to New Hampshire to take a respite from the stresses of urban life and see giant steel towers and high voltage transmission lines? A scene not unlike the one they have back at home.

Northern Pass has made a change to its proposed route to now bury the lines in Grafton County to minimize impacts around the White Mountain National Forest. But what about the large population of people who will still be so negatively impacted by overhead lines and steel towers? Where’s the responsibility for them?

There’s the economic argument about a handful of jobs the proposed Northern Pass would bring and boost to the economy through various programs sponsored by the Northern Pass NH Forward Fund. Although I think New Hampshire and not energy corporations should take charge of its own economic plan. Look at Littleton’s revival. It can be done.

But I don’t buy that economic argument under those conditions.

And is this equitable . . . One family looses a farm but a farm in the next town not impacted by the Northern Pass is now selling their meat and vegetables to the Balsams Resort for its farm to table menu***. Or, an inn has vacancies because no one wants to sit in a rocking chair on the porch to see steel towers during foliage season. But the utility guys installing towers right in front of the inn have jobs.

The economic benefit sell seems corrupt when you think about the major assault on the lives of so many people and on the land in comparison to the small amount of people who will benefit from jobs, many temporary at that. A temporary job is a welcome change, yes, but there would also be jobs to bury the entire Northern Pass. 

I hear that the burial costs are too high. Well I guess the New Hampshire topography has rejected the proposed Northern Pass as well! Shouldn’t that alone have sent the message from the very start to construct it elsewhere, like existing utility corridors or highways? In a straighter line. A-B. Less materials. Less cost. At the last hearing the extra cost to fully bury the Northern Pass is $1 billion – that’s not exorbitant for a mega and growing hydropower corporation. Perhaps all the money planned to sponsor the NH Forward economic plan, money spent on the Balsams, money spent buying strategic tracts of land and property from people, on advertising, and on a long drawn out campaign against the opposition could have been earmarked to bury the lines in the first place.

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Beautiful unmarred view of Franconia, Easton, and beyond from Governor Gallen Memorial (Sunset Bridge)

There should be respect for society’s reasonable pleas for responsible leadership. Just a couple of quotes from commenters . . .

“Stop the madness!”

“I’d rather go to jail than give up my land.”

And where would it stop. What looms large in my mind is the probability of expansion. If the proposed Northern Pass is approved will more and more lines be fed through New Hampshire from Canada, or directly off the pass?

There must be some ethical and moral responsibility if not for the environment then absolutely for the people of New Hampshire who are not poised to gain but will loose everything, their livelihood and heritage.

Will there be a solid enforceable promise for responsible leadership in the future?

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~ * ~

*The Romaine did get dammed for hydropower after that article published.

**Improving emissions seems to be one of the reasons for hydropower. However, with deep study the emissions from mega hydropower dams like in Canada are not as “clean” as is being publicized, especially if construction of new dams are ongoing (which is the case in Canada especially with new markets opening up in the U.S.). I’m sure it’s more complicated but would it be cleaner and greener to use existing micro dams in the U.S. or existing sources of energy that are using updated efficient methods?

Here are a couple of the many articles out there about emissions:

Environmental Impacts of Hydroelectric power: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/environmental-impacts-hydroelectric-power.html#.VvqchenbLfg

When Renewable Energy Isn’t Green: http://www.bard.edu/cep/blog/?p=7025

Even manufacturing the materials for the transmission lines isn’t a clean process. I’ll post the article link when I find it again.

~ * ~

REACH OUT or forever see towers:

We’ve come a long way but we have more work to do. Save the forests, save the state and more!

Sign the petition to bury or stop the Northern Pass. I’d rather not have the Northern Pass at all, but if it has to be then it should be fully buried and along utility corridors or highways, not through small towns: http://www.conservationmediagroup.org/bury-or-stop-northern-pass-petition

Write to New Hampshire Governor Hassan directly: http://governor.nh.gov

Send your public comment against the Northern Pass to Pamela.Monroe@sec.nh.gov

~ * ~

***The Balsams Resort has a future plan to introduce a farm to table menu.

Feature photo: is of Franconia, Easton, and beyond view from Governor Gallen Memorial Sunset Bridge.

 


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