The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will hear from a panel of five experts this week covering a wide range of topics related to Northern Pass and the environment.
Members of the panel include Robert Varney, president of Normandeau Associates and former commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES); Jake Tinus, project manager in the Environmental Studies and Permitting Global Practice for Burns & McDonnell Engineering, who has assessed the potential impact of Northern Pass on surface water and groundwater quality; Lee Carbonneau, senior principal scientist in the Wetlands/Terrestrial Group and assistant project manager for Normandeau Associates, who also serves as the permitting lead for Northern Pass; Dennis McGee, vice president at Normandeau Associates and senior consultant on special projects, who conducted analysis on the potential impacts Northern Pass could have on rare plants and rare or unusual natural communities; and Dr. Sarah Barnum, senior wildlife ecologist at Normandeau Associates and the author of the report Northern Pass Transmission Project Wildlife Report and Impact Assessment October 2015.
Topics that are likely to be discussed include:
- Northern Pass will improve air quality, public health and the environment, and help address climate change by reducing pollutants such as NOx, SO2, and CO2 emissions that affect New Hampshire and the New England region, consistent with national, regional, and state air quality and climate change goals
- More than 83 percent of the proposed route will be along existing transmission corridors or will be buried under public roadways, resulting in reduced potential environmental and visual effects
- Northern Pass has planned, routed, designed, and engineered the project to protect water quality by carefully avoiding resource impacts, and minimizing impacts where total avoidance is not possible. The project will follow NHDES and EPA requirements regarding water quality, and employ best management practices
- Avoidance and minimization of impacts to wetlands, streams, vernal pools, and other natural and cultural resources was an essential element of route selection, project design, and developing the construction management plan
- Northern Pass has been focused on avoiding and minimizing potential impacts to wildlife throughout the course of route selection, siting, and design. The project has developed extensive wildlife impact avoidance and minimization measures and will comply with any additional permit conditions. These conditions will be included in the project plans and construction management plans, and environmental monitors will be responsible for ensuring that construction contractors abide by these measures and conditions
- Unavoidable impacts to habitat resources will be mitigated through habitat restoration, conservation, and protection, including proposing to place parcels with wildlife habitat value under conservation easements, and other methods detailed in a mitigation plan submitted to the NHDES
- Northern Pass has dedicated 1627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation – exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet
- Northern Pass further supports conservation efforts through a $3 million grant to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which has issued grants to groups that are working to restore wildlife habitat and fish passage in NH