NEW HAMPSHIRE DELEGATION CALLS ON DOE FOR TIMELY RELEASE OF ALTERNATIVE NORTHERN PASS ROUTES

In advance of Draft Environmental Impact Statement, lawmakers call for release of Addendum outlining preliminary alternative identified routes Delegation: Citizens need “meaningful opportunity” to participate and comment on application

April 04, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – In an ongoing effort to promote transparency by the Department of Energy (DOE) for the proposed Northern Pass project and allow for Granite State stakeholder input, New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is urging DOE to publicly release an Addendum to the Scoping Report, a document summarizing public comments received to date on the Northern Pass project, in advance of releasing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The Addendum will list preliminary identified alternative routes for the project as it moves through the approval process while the draft EIS is expected to provide alternative routes deemed reasonable for the project. The draft EIS will also include a comprehensive description of environmental impacts of the project as proposed, as well as of the reasonable alternatives.

A letter sent late yesterday to the Department of Energy by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) specifically requests the Department’s “timely issuance of the Addendum to the agency’s [recently released] Scoping Report” in order to “maximize the benefit” of the preliminary identified alternatives for the proposed project.  The DOE agreed to issue the Addendum in response to repeated calls from the New Hampshire delegation.

“As you know, it is imperative that New Hampshire citizens be provided with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the review of the proposed project through an effective, transparent and thorough National Environmental Policy Act process,” the New Hampshire delegation wrote. “New Hampshire stakeholders have a clear interest in commenting on the Northern Pass application, especially within the context of the alternatives to be studied by DOE.” 

The New Hampshire congressional delegation has led ongoing efforts to promote transparency on the proposed Northern Pass project, successfully urging the DOE to agree to publicly release a preliminary addendum report listing which alternative routes likely to be studied as part of the draft EIS currently in development. Last fall, the Administration relocated a public hearing on the project to a larger and more accessible location in response to a letter from Shaheen, Ayotte, Shea-Porter and Kuster. 

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

April 3, 2014

The Honorable Patricia Hoffman

Assistant Secretary

Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability

United States Department of Energy

1000 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20585

Dear Assistant Secretary Hoffman,

We write regarding the status of Northern Pass Transmission, LLC’s amended application with the Department of Energy (DOE) for a Presidential permit to construct and maintain an electric transmission line across the U.S.-Canada border into northern New Hampshire.  Specifically, we request the DOE’s timely issuance of the Addendum to the agency’s Scoping Report for the proposed project that was released on March 12, 2014, which will describe the preliminarily identified alternatives.

As you know, it is imperative that New Hampshire citizens be provided with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the review of the proposed project through an effective, transparent and thorough National Environmental Policy Act process.  New Hampshire stakeholders have a clear interest in commenting on the Northern Pass application, especially within the context of the alternatives to be studied by DOE.  According to the Scoping Report, New Hampshire residents submitted the vast majority of the 7,560 comments received during the scoping period.  Of these, the most common subject matter addressed dealt with alternative ways to construct the proposed transmission line, including burial. 

We were pleased that DOE agreed to our previous request that the agency release an Addendum to the Scoping Report in advance of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  This is an important step in the review process that will apprise interested parties of the preliminarily identified alternatives to the project as proposed, and prepare stakeholders for the Draft EIS that your agency anticipates to release in late 2014.

However, in order to maximize the benefit of the Addendum, it is essential that it be released sufficiently in advance of the Draft EIS in order to allow New Hampshire citizens the opportunity to thoroughly review the preliminarily identified alternatives.  Therefore, we respectfully request that DOE issue the Addendum to the public as soon as possible and provide us with the date that it will be released. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen                                                                                     Kelly Ayotte

United States Senator                                                                      United States Senator

 

Ann McLane Kuster                                                                               Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress                                                                         Member of Congress                                                                                  

 

 

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