Endowment Lands Leased to Controversial Power Line for Northern Pass Project
NEW HAVEN — On Wednesday Yale students and residents of New Hampshire challenged Yale’s environmental stewardship of woodlands by the University’s endowment at a teach-in in front of Yale University President Peter Salovey’s office. Yale is the largest landowner in Coös County New Hampshire, holding 125,000 acres of prime forestland. Yale has leased 24 miles of that land to a controversial power line project that is opposed by national and local environmental groups, and by 30 of the 31 towns that the line will pass through.
“The Northern Pass project will cut a wide path through some of the remaining pristine forest in the Eastern U.S.,” said 3rd District Coös County Commissioner Rick Samson, who traveled to New Haven to meet today with students and members of the Yale community. “Conservation groups bought land to block the Northern Pass route, while farmers in my district have refused multimillion dollar offers to for their land. Yale’s land is essential to this project, and they can help end it.”
“Yale is a world leader in science,” said Mehmet Dogan, a graduate teacher in the Physics Department. “The University should honor those values and respect the needs of the New Hampshire community.”
Northern Pass would carry power from massive hydroelectric projects built by Hydro Quebec, which has devastated the riverine environments and rights of the First Nation Pessamit Innu. Pessamit Innu Chief René Simon said in a letter that those projects “have damaged our social harmony and rendered it destitute. Our forced migration is a key part of a cultural genocide orchestrated to produce Hydro-Québec’s so-called ‘green energy.’”
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science graduate Liz Wyman said, “Our community’s been fighting this project for seven years, based the grounds that it is socially and ecologically destructive. A decision on this is imminent. Yale has the power and the obligation to stop this.”
During the event, 40-year forestry industry veteran Wayne Montgomery reviewed aerial photos demonstrating that Yale is practicing unsustainable forestry. “Yale’s manager is taking every bit of value that you can out of the forest, reducing it to a point where it will be 50 years before there’s another viable crop of timber.”
Yale College student Sophie Freeman of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition said, ”Yale has a decision to make, and it’s going to determine what this University stands for. Will Yale support trampling the rights of indigenous people and unsustainable environmental practices or will Yale act on its professed values?”
The teach-in was co-sponsored by the Yale Student Environmental Coalition and Local 33–UNITE HERE, the union of graduate teachers at Yale University.