Forest Society Presses Eversource on Environmental Benefits of Burying Northern Pass
CONCORD — Northern Pass’ environmental impacts will take center stage again Tuesday and Friday as the adjudicative hearings continue in front of the state Site Evaluation Committee that will decide whether to approve or deny the project’s application by the end of September.
Attorney Amy Manzelli pressed the project’s environmental panel on Friday about the benefits if the 192-mile transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield were completely buried. Sixty miles are buried in the final design of the controversial high-voltage transmission line that would bring electricity from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire to the New England grid.
Manzelli, representing the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, insisted the negative impacts on wetlands would be ten times worse with the plan as proposed than if the line were to be completely buried.
And attorney Doreen Connor, representing the Counsel for the Public, questioned the panel about how endangered species will be protected especially during construction.
“You would agree with me this project would have an adverse impact on wetlands, right?” Manzelli asked Lee Carbonneau, one of Northern Pass’ experts and senior principal scientist with Normandeau Associates, the company hired by the project.
Carbonneau: “Yes the project has some impacts to wetlands and I would consider them to be adverse.”
Manzelli: “The question would be whether the adverse impacts would be reasonable or unreasonable and your opinion is that the adverse impacts would be reasonable. Is that a fair statement?”
Manzelli asked Carbonneau if she did any wetlands assessment on any alternatives that would have completely buried the transmission line. Carbonneau said she had not.
She did say she looked at two representative portions of I-93 right of way, one of which was in Canterbury and the other farther north.
Manzelli pointed out that the total amount of wetlands impact was more than 6 million square feet and said there are laydown areas, places where construction equipment can be stored, to consider. One in Clarksville is about five acres and two in Millsfield – one of which is an acre and the other an acre and a half.
According to previous testimony from the construction panel, 10 to 20 more laydown areas are needed, Manzelli said.
Click below to read the full story by Nancy West at InDepthNH.org