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Northern Pass Advocates Angry Over ‘Dark Money’ In Local Fight. Well Get In Line

This weekend the Union Leader published ‘No names, please: Mystery money out to kill Northern Pass’ highlighting how Northern Pass advocates are upset over ‘Protect the Granite State‘ use of money from unknown donors to push back against Northern Pass.

“Protect the Granite State is spreading false and misleading information about the project,” said Eversource spokesman Martin Murray. “Because their funders are secret, there is no one to hold accountable. Regardless of your opinion on Northern Pass, it should be concerning that an anonymous group has invested so much money into misleading the public as it attempts to stymie a clean energy project and influence New Hampshire energy policy.”

Though Eversource may not like it, “Donald Kreis, head of New Hampshire’s Office of the Consumer Advocate, says Protect the Granite State (PTGS) is within its rights to protect the identity of its donors.”

“The organization is a 501(C)(4) whose donors choose to remain anonymous,” said Protect the Granite State spokesman Jim Merrill. And that’s about all Merrill and another PTGS operative will say. They declined to answer a list of questions submitted by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

The article also clearly differentiates union political action funds and dark money C4’s.

There is money flowing from both sides as the adjudicatory hearings before a statewide planning board for big energy projects grind on toward a 2018 conclusion. Northern Pass partners have invested in promoting the project, as have supporters like the IBEW electrical workers union, but those sources are identified.

This article highlights what many of us have been saying for years. Since the Citizens United decision there has been a significant rise in “social welfare” programs (501(C)(4)) using unknown donors to influence political decisions.

From OpenSecrets

Take for example the ongoing fight to pass Right to Work in New Hampshire.  Every year this bill is submitted and every year the people of New Hampshire speak out against it and the bill dies.  Yet every time the bill gets submitted the National Right To Work Committee (NRTWC) spends money to lobby the legislature, take out advertisements to sway the public, and dump tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers.

But who is really behind the NRTWC?  There are many theories but NRTWC has every right to disclose who funds their PAC. The NRTWC raised over $25 million dollars to push Right to Work laws across the country.

Chart created by Center for Media & Democracy

Another example is Americans For Prosperity, a 501(C)(4) that was started with seed money from the Koch Brothers, was instrumental in building and funding the Tea Party movement.  Along with the NRTWC, AFP pushes for anti-worker legislation like Right to Work and to take away workers rights to collectively bargain.

AFP spent over $13 million in nine federal elections in 2016 and all of that money was spend attacking Democratic candidates.  AFP raised and spent $122 million dollars in 2012 elections most of it going to “communications, ads, and media” attacking President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

The system has be rigged by those who are using their money to buy politicians and mislead the public for their own personal gains.  We do not need to know who is behind Protect the Granite State, we need to know who is behind all of these dark money groups. We need to know who is buying our political system.

We need to change the game and eliminate all of this outside, dark money.

New Hampshire Residents Challenge Yale: “Stop Destroying Our Forests”

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.

Wall Street Investment Firm Drives Ayotte’s Position on Northern Pass

Blackstone Group, competitor to Northern Pass, contributes more than $44,000 to Ayotte’s Campaign

Barrington – Recent political contribution reports show that the Blackstone Group, a Wall Street financial firm that is funding a competitive energy project to Northern Pass, has given upwards of $44,000 to Ayotte’s re-election campaign.  According to Open Secrets, the contributions from Blackstone’s executives and Blackstone’s political action committee make the Wall Street firm the largest energy sector contributor to Ayotte’s reelection campaign.

The Blackstone Group is described as the “lead investor” in Transmission Developers, Inc. (TDI), which has proposed several transmission projects in New England and New York.  Similar to Northern Pass, TDI has proposed a transmission project in Vermont that seeks to bring hydroelectric power from Canada, but to date has not announced an energy source for the project.

“Senator Ayotte portrays herself as protecting New Hampshire by trying to creating hurdles for energy projects in our state, but in reality she is working to tip the scales to gain an advantage for one of her largest political contributors,” said Tiler Eaton of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  “Since she has begun advocating to place costly mandates on Northern Pass, Ayotte has raked in tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Wall Street investment firm that stands to gain the most from her position.”

In addition to the Blackstone Group, Eaton said Ayotte has taken thousands in political contributions from other energy companies and power plant owners who have fought to stop any new energy supplies from entering the New England region.  Eaton said these energy companies and power plant owners benefit from the extremely high prices in the New England energy market, and work to prevent new energy supplies from entering New England that might lower prices.

Eaton said the biggest losers from Ayotte’s effort to promote the Wall Street firm’s energy projects are New Hampshire businesses, homeowners and workers. 

“At the end of the day, by letting her political contributors determine her position on energy projects, Senator Ayotte is standing in the way of lower cost electricity for New Hampshire and New England”, said Eaton. “By standing in the way of new energy supplies entering New Hampshire, Ayotte keeps electricity costs high and protects massive profits for her Wall Street political contributors.  All at the expense of New Hampshire electric consumers, our state’s economy and good jobs in the state.”

Shaheen Welcomes Announcement of Rescheduled Northern Pass Hearings

**Includes Colebrook hearing that Senator Shaheen and Governor Hassan requested, now scheduled for March 7th**

(Manchester, NH) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed the Department of Energy‘s (DOE) announcement of the time and location of rescheduled hearings on the proposed Northern Pass transmission project. Late last year, Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan urged DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz to include a public hearing in northern Coos County to better accommodate the input of citizens in the region. 

“Granite Staters must have ample opportunity to review this project and have their voices heard,” said Shaheen. “The previously announced hearings denied residents of the North Country the ability to easily express their thoughts on the project. I’m pleased that DOE has listened to concerns of New Hampshire stakeholders and will provide a forum for Coos County residents to participate in this review process.” 

The public hearings provide an opportunity for Granite Staters to comment on DOE’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, announced last summer, and the Supplement to the Draft EIS, announced in November. 

Details of the four scheduled hearings are included below:

Colebrook:       Monday March 7, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Colebrook Elementary School, 27 Dumont Street,

Colebrook, NH

 

Waterville:       Wednesday March 9, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Waterville Valley Conference and Event Center, Waterville Room,

Waterville Valley, NH

 

Concord:         Thursday March 10, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Grappone Conference Center

Granite Ballroom

70 Constitution Avenue

Concord, NH

 

Whitefield:     Friday March 11, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa

Presidential Room

101 Mountain View Road

Whitefield, NH

High Praise For Department of Energy’s Extension of Public Comment and Hearings

Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen and Rep Annie Kuster Applaud Announcement of Additional Coos County Public Hearing on Northern Pass and Extension of Public Comment Deadline

CONCORD – Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced changes to the public review process for the proposed Northern Pass Transmission project to include a hearing in Colebrook, New Hampshire, following requests from Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Governor Hassan wrote a letter and Senator Shaheen called DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, urging DOE to include a hearing in northern Coos County in its public hearings schedule to better accommodate citizens in the North Country. The public comment period on the project will also be extended to April 4, 2016, and the public hearings slated for December will be rescheduled. 

The public hearings provide an opportunity for Granite Staters to comment on DOE’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, announced this summer, and the Supplement to the Draft EIS, announced in November. 

“As we consider the siting of proposed energy projects, we must ensure a thorough and transparent review so that the most impacted communities have the opportunity to be heard,” Governor Hassan said. “I applaud the Department of Energy for heeding my and Senator Shaheen’s call to improve the public review process. I will continue to work to ensure that all Granite Staters have an opportunity to have their voices heard and to push the company and the federal government to continue to address their concerns.”

“Granite Staters must have ample opportunity to review this project and have their voices heard,” said Senator Shaheen. “A hearing in Colebrook will provide a forum for Coos County residents to participate in this review process. I’m pleased that the change Governor Hassan and I requested was quickly accommodated.”

“I commend the Department of Energy for extending the public comment period regarding the Northern Pass Transmission Line project, and for including an additional public hearing in Colebrook,” said Congresswoman Kuster.  “Ensuring that my constituents have sufficient opportunities to review and comment on this project has been a top priority of mine, and the hearing in Colebrook will provide residents in Coos County with a convenient forum to make their voices heard.”

In addition to the hearing in Colebrook, DOE will reschedule the following public hearings in New Hampshire. New dates are yet to be announced: 

•         Whitefield, Tuesday, December 15th

•         Concord, Wednesday, December 16th

•         Plymouth, Thursday, December 17th 

Letter to the Editor: Full Burial Of Northern Pass Is Not Possible

I was astonished to read Linda Upham-Bornstein’s ill-informed letter regarding the Northern Pass. As the Business Manager of IBEW Local 490, one of the unions whose workers would construct the Northern Pass, I would like to take this opportunity to correct the record.

Here’s the bottom line: it’s not possible to bury the entire Northern Pass. We can either work together to find a compromise that includes some burial and some overhead, or we can kiss the 2,000-plus jobs this project would create goodbye. Full burial might sound like a good idea, but the added cost of burying this line completely would make it too expensive to construct. The draft Environmental Impact Statement Ms. Upham-Bornstein cites actually confirms what anti-Northern Pass activists have denied for years – burial is vastly more expensive than overhead. I couldn’t tell you exactly how much additional costs the developers of this project are willing to absorb and still construct it, but I can tell you this: full burial would certainly and beyond all doubt cost too much to allow construction to move forward.

Organized labor in New Hampshire WILL NOT reexamine its position and push for full burial. To do so would kill this important project, and with it thousands of desperately needed jobs. What’s more, no Northern Pass means New Hampshire families will pay an estimated $80 million per year more in energy costs. It’s time we stopped looking at this project in black and white and start working together to find a compromise. Let’s get this project built in a balanced way that creates jobs and brings down electric rates while also respecting our state’s cultural, historic, and environmental resources we all cherish.

Denis R Beaudoin, Sr

Business Manager

IBEW LU 490

IBEW 104 Applaud Eversource Moving Forward With Northern Pass Project

STATEMENT BY BRIAN MURPHY OF IBEW LOCAL 104 ON THE FILING OF THE NORTHERN PASS PROJECT WITH THE NH SITE EVALUATION COMMITTEE

Today’s filing of the Northern Pass transmission project with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee represents a major step forward for the project and for working families of the state.  The Northern Pass project will create more than 2,000 jobs during construction, and the commitment by Eversource to employ New Hampshire residents means that many of our members will have their first opportunity to work in their home state.

The Northern Pass project also represents the best opportunity to solve our region’s greatest economic challenge – our growing energy crisis.  Our electricity costs continue to be the highest in the country and will continue to go higher with recent announcements of power plant closures and other future costs drivers, such as capacity costs.  While many elected officials continue erect barriers to energy development, our energy problem not only strangles our economy, businesses and jobs, but is hurting family budgets.

IBEW Local 104 and the entire International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers applaud Eversource for continuing to move this project forward, and we encourage the NH Site Evaluation Committee to review this project in a timely manner.  We look forward to actively participating in the process and ensuring that the voices of working families are heard.

Brian Murphy is the Business Manager of IBEW Local 104

Letter To Editor: Unions Should Push To Bury Northern Pass Lines

letters to the editor

I am puzzled by the IBEW’s and other labor unions’ support for above-ground transmission lines on the Northern Pass project. I urge labor to reconsider its positon and advocate for full burial of the transmission line because full burial is in the best interests of labor.

I have a Ph.D. in history and specialize in labor and legal history. My grandfather and father were both members of the Boston Pipefitters union, and I am currently a union member. I was also a union organizer in Boston in the 1970s. I view things from a labor perspective and care about the interests of workers.

I support full burial of the Northern Pass transmission line because, among many reasons, it is the best alternative for workers and New Hampshire. In the draft Northern Pass Transmission Project Environmental Impact Statement, the Department of Energy found that burial of the entire transmission line pursuant to Alternative 4a will create nearly twice as many annual construction jobs over three years and 65% more permanent full-time jobs, will have almost double the economic impact from construction and 61% more in total economic impacts, and will generate 97% more statewide annual property tax revenues than the proposed above-ground line under Alternative 2 (DEIS, 4-5, 4-6). The adjustments that Northern Pass has made to Alternative 2 by increasing the amount of line buried will not significantly alter the above numbers and still fall far short of the economic advantages of 4a. From a labor and economic perspective, full burial is the best option for union and non-union workers alike.

It is my hope that labor will look closely at the advantages of 4a and insist that Northern Pass bury the entire transmission line.

Linda Upham-Bornstein,
Lancaster, NH 

NH Sierra Club Opposes Northern Pass

The Burden is Too Great for NH Property Owners, Economy, and Ratepayers.

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Chapter of Sierra Club, 10,000 members and supporters, announced its opposition to the Northern Pass. The Sierra Club goal is to support a 100% fossil-free power sector for energy efficient homes, businesses, schools, and municipalities in the United States by 2030. New Hampshire Sierra Club (NHSC) endorses investment increases for grid modernization, weatherization, energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy projects, as envisioned in the NH 10 Year Energy Strategy. 

Flooding Canada for Profits:

In October, 2010, Public Service Company of New Hampshire, now Eversource, announced the Northern Pass. The project, if built, will transmit electricity generated in Canada and owned by the Province of Quebec for sale to greater New England. A Province of Quebec owned company, Hydro Quebec, has dammed waterways, flooding vast land areas. The dammed water generates the electricity using turbines. In order to market the electricity, Hydro Quebec needs a pathway to build infrastructure to sell the electricity to Massachusetts and Connecticut, and New York. The proposed pathway is though New Hampshire. 

PSNH owns rights of way it acquired around 75 years ago using rate payer money to bring necessary electricity to homes and businesses in New Hampshire from its fossil fired generating plants in Portsmouth and Bow. The electricity is transmitted along the old rights of way to substations where the voltage, usually 115 kV, is reduced for distribution to New Hampshire customers. 

PSNH, now Eversource, proposes to rent the old rights of way to Hydro Quebec to serve as a corridor to transmit the electricity to greater New England. The transmission facilities will require the construction of steel towers as high as 135 feet on massive concrete foundations. There are two distinct sections of the project. North of Franklin, NH the transmitted electricity will be high voltage direct current (DC) rated at 300+/- volts, meaning as high as 600 kV. In Franklin, a 21 acre converter station will be built to transition the DC to alternating current (AC). The second section, South of Franklin, will run alongside existing transmission and distribution lines approximately 34 miles to Deerfield. The AC transmission towers, rated 345 kV, will vary from 48 feet to 135 feet. It is worth repeating that the new towers will, in most areas, be constructed next to the existing 115 kV wires that bring electricity to New Hampshire.

NHSC opposes Northern Pass because:

“Flooding vast areas of Quebec, eradicating wildlife, displacing Native People, installing towers and wires or digging a trench across New Hampshire will be a permanent scar. That is why New Hampshire Sierra Club opposes Northern Pass,” continued Jerry Curran from Amherst. “More flooding is happening now. There is no guarantee that Hydro Quebec will stop flooding rivers and valleys. The Northern Pass can only encourage more flooding.”

“NHSC supports more investments in energy efficiency and weatherization in our homes, businesses, schools and municipal buildings, as developed in Governor Hassan’s 10 Year Energy Strategy,” stated Catherine Corkery, NHSC Chapter Director. “Studies have shown significant potential in all sectors in New Hampshire (residential, industrial and commercial) to save millions of dollars with energy efficiency and weatherization alone. Further, ISO New England has predicted annual energy demand to grow less than 1% until 2021. We need to invest in our needs and demands before approving massive projects, like Northern Pass.” 

“The burden of Northern Pass is too great for New Hampshire property owners, economy, and ratepayers. The transmission pathway wrongly assumes that the right-of-way easements allow for rent to Hydro Quebec,” continued Corkery. “The easements were purchased with rate payer money for needed transmission and distribution to New Hampshire homes, farms and businesses. Eversource, doing business as Northern Pass, has no right to rent easements to foreign governments to sell Hydro Quebec energy. The safety of burying under road ways is unknown. The transmission towers or digging a trench through the heart of New Hampshire will impact property values negatively. Buried or left above ground, this proposal is a bad deal for New Hampshire” 

“Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the summer of 2015 the hottest summer on record. With 14 out the 15 hottest years ever recorded having occurred since 2000, it’s undeniable that climate change is affecting us here and now,” stated Jim Allmendinger of Durham. “We urgently need to address carbon emissions and invest in our own communities, infrastructure, homes, and renewable energy now, not later.” 

“The Northern Pass opposition will need more volunteers to win,” stated Jerry Curran, NHSC Chapter Chair. “We are asking current rights of way easement holders under threat of Northern Pass to share your easement forms to further instruct our efforts to oppose Northern Pass. Please scan your easements and send to NHSC603@gmail.com or mail them to our office. If folks have questions or are willing to volunteer, send us a note to NHSC603@gmail.com or call our Concord office 603-224-8222.”

NH Delegation Applauds Energy Department Decision to Conduct Thorough Review of New Northern Pass Route

Energy Department Agrees to Issue Supplement to Environmental Impact Statement, Extend Public Comment Period, & Delay Public Hearings 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), along with Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2) and Frank Guinta (NH-1) applauded today’s decision by the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a more thorough review of the Northern Pass Transmission Project’s newest “preferred route” proposal.  

“We appreciate DOE’s decision to meet the request of concerned Granite Staters who want more information and more time to assess the impact of the new Northern Pass route,” the delegation members said. “We continue to believe that DOE must provide ample time for public review following the release of the supplemental to the draft Environmental Impact Statement.”

The delegation agreed with a request that several New Hampshire environmental groups made to DOE for the agency to supplement its draft Environmental Impact Statement to account for the new Northern Pass route, delay the public comment period and postpone the public hearings that were scheduled for October to allow more time for the public to review a supplement to the EIS. The delegation sent a letter to DOE in support of these sensible proposals.

Today, DOE announced that it would meet all three requests, with the comment period extended until December 31, 2015.

The original request to DOE for these provisions was made by: The Appalachian Mountain Club, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Responsible Energy Action LLC, and The Nature Conservancy – NH Chapter.

After the news was released, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

“I applaud the Department of Energy for listening to the concerns of Granite Staters and agreeing to prepare a supplement to and extend the timeline for the draft environmental impact statement for the newest Northern Pass proposal. For all proposed energy projects, we must always work to ensure a robust public process, and I will continue to encourage the federal government to continue to listen to public input about the project and for the company to continue to reach out to New Hampshire citizens and continue to work to address their concerns.”

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