To The Daily Sun,
Fifteen months ago, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee gave Granite Staters an important victory against Northern Pass, thoughtfully considering — and then rejecting — its application to build a 192-mile-long transmission line through the heart of our state. The SEC decision was arrived at carefully and deliberately, supported by a well-developed record of harmful impacts that would be visited upon New Hampshire, if Northern Pass were to be built.
As State Senator for Senate District 2 from 2010 to 2016, representing most of Grafton County, along with part of Belknap County, my district and constituents lay directly in the path of the gash that Northern Pass proposed to slice through our state. I was proud to stand alongside municipalities, community leaders and activists from both sides of the aisle to fight the project as proposed and demand concessions from Northern Pass that would protect our tourism economy, our small towns and our beautiful landscape. I was particularly proud to have led the effort in passing HB648 which prevented private developers from using eminent domain to take private property.
To its credit, Northern Pass did make some concessions in response to our efforts and grassroots opposition, but what they never did what they should have done from the start — agree to bury the entire transmission line. This was particularly disappointing because it was clear the companies involved in the project could have afforded to bury the lines and offered more protection for New Hampshire. They just chose not to.
And so, as presented to the SEC, Northern Pass clearly remained overly harmful and disruptive to our state, with virtually no real or lasting benefit to us for the burden of serving as an extension cord between Quebec and Massachusetts. The SEC last year made the right and reasonable decision.
As I have seen first-hand, the fight against Northern Pass has brought together an unprecedented coalition, united against the project. Republicans and Democrats, business leaders and conservationists, suburban and rural — so many stood united to speak up and oppose Northern Pass. It was humbling to see how much time and effort regular citizens took to follow the legislative process addressing Northern Pass, to turn out at site visits, to speak with me about their concerns, to show up at town meetings and ultimately to file comments with the SEC and attend its deliberative sessions in the lead-up to last year’s decision.
These countless citizen activists who took precious time away from their work and families to engage against Northern Pass are the real heroes in this story, and together, they reflect the very best of New Hampshire’s volunteer traditions. Once the SEC ruled against Northern Pass last year, it is understandable that my friends involved in this fight for so many years thought they had won and that was the end.
But it is not the end. Not yet. Northern Pass has appealed its defeat to our state Supreme Court and oral argument is scheduled on May 15. It is entirely possible that, by the end of this summer, the Court will have ruled and Northern Pass may have new life. But regardless of what the court says, after 10 years of debate, discussion and disagreement, the people of New Hampshire have very clearly spoken: New Hampshire does not need or want Northern Pass.
One of my political mentors, Ray Burton, was the very first elected official to oppose Northern Pass, but countless others from both parties followed him. Virtually every municipality along the proposed route has opposed the project. Dozens of businesses, large and small, have opposed the project. Thousands of Granite Staters from every political stripe and walk of life have opposed the project.
As I said years ago, this is about New Hampshire — not a company — choosing New Hampshire’s future. The people of our great state have chosen, loudly, clearly and wisely. Enough time, money and talk have been spent on Northern Pass. It is long past time to move on.