A letter this week from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding potential impacts along the northernmost area of the proposed Northern Pass route contains no new information and Eversource has confirmed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) that the letter will not affect the decision regarding a required ACOE wetlands permit. It is also important to note that Northern Pass does not require a permit from the U.S. EPA. The agency’s letter this week was directed to the ACOE, which is expected to issue a required wetlands permit to Northern Pass before the end of the year. EPA’s comments were a repeat of what the agency said last year. Northern Pass responded to the EPA in an October, 2016 letter, noting that “our proposed route is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative…” Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy last month issued the project a Final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that the proposed Northern Pass route is the “preferred alternative,” that the project provides substantial benefits, and will result in only minimal impacts.
The N.H. Department of Environmental Services issued a state wetlands permit to Northern Pass in March, 2017, following a comprehensive review, including a study of the issues originally raised by the EPA last year and Northern Pass’ wetlands mitigation plan. The project’s wetlands mitigation plan includes a $3 million payment to the N.H. Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund (ARM) and the dedication of 1,627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation – exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet. The mitigation package also includes eight conservation sites which are valued for having numerous wetlands, floodplains, streams, vernal pools, or are connected to other conservation lands.