Citizens, get involved
To the Editor:
This is a critical time in our area and state; it requires citizen participation now!
The regular citizen is no longer on the forefront of many of our legislators' minds. Lobbyists and big corporations are usurping any power we have remaining. Unfortunately, if we fail to make our concerns and our knowledge on an issue known to our legislators, they will believe the ever present lobbyists and attorneys. The Northern Pass is a prime example of this play for power.
As the then head of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Thomas Getz, a current attorney for PSNH, was heard saying at the inception of the NP project, "It's a done deal". Oh really? Why would the head of the PUC make such a statement? In the past three and a half years, I have seen the influence peddling, nowhere more evident than in the recent Senate Bill 99 working groups for the new, pre-rulemaking process for the Site Evaluation Committee (the committee that grants the permits for large energy projects, such as the Northern Pass). What should have been working groups with public participation had an almost equal number of energy (mainly PSNH) attorneys and lobbyists... attorneys and lobbyists writing the rules by which their projects will abide. Attorneys and lobbyists who say private views shouldn't be accorded any importance. Attorneys and lobbyists who say property values will not be affected by the installation of towers that could be twice the height of a pine tree. Attorneys and lobbyists who didn't want their names and affiliations printed on the committee reports.
One of the reasons for new rules for the Site Evaluation Committee was to have public input. I strongly requested an equal number of public participants as industry on the decision making body. That would provide a way for the residents to be heard, the same residents who would have to pay the consequences of these projects. According to the Senate SB 99 bill, only two slots were included for the public. Two! Not enough to give the citizens and residents any viable input. To make matters even worse for us and better for industry, Governor Hassan announced she was naming one of the members of the "public," retiring senator Bob Odell... the same Bob Odell who sat on the Senate Science, Technology, and Energy Committee that turned down almost every bill the anti-NP and anti-wind people pursued. A representative for the public? This is the same type of public participation as on the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) working groups! Furthermore, the governor promoted the PUC's current and seemingly fair chairperson, Amy Ignatius, to a judicial position, leaving Governor Hassan the opportunity to name the new head of the PUC, who sits on the SEC. It sure appears the stage is being set for passage of the Northern Pass through the SEC! Governor Hassan also, early in her tenure, appointed Jeffrey Rose, a self-avowed NP supporter, to head the Department of Resources and Economic Development, the same head who will also sit on the Site Evaluation Committee. When Governor Hassan selects the second "public" member of the SEC, she will have personally selected four of the seven members needed for a quorum (nine members on the committee). I should also mention Governor Hassan accepted $25,000 from the IBEW, strong supporters of the NP project, although she did have to return $24,000.
The residents need to get involved, now! Write the Governor, the Executive Council members, your Representatives and your Senator. Despite the protestations being made that this is a partisan issue, nothing could be further from the truth. This is an issue for the good of NH and its people! Accept nothing less than full attention and support from your elected officials!
Sugar Hill, N.H.