Letter: A bogus claim from Northern Pass

Last modified: 3/24/2014 12:01:02 PM
In her plea for a debate based on facts (“We need the power Northern Pass would bring,” Monitor Forum, March 20), Lauren Collins (speaking for Northern Pass developer Northeast Utilities and its subsidiary PSNH) should have followed her own advice. Her claim that the project will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 5 million tons per year is no fact – it’s false.

The claim comes from a 2010 report erroneously assuming that hydropower has no emissions. Again and again, the Conservation Law Foundation has pointed out the error, yet Northern Pass insists on repeating the bogus figure at every opportunity.

In fact, big hydropower has substantial net greenhouse gas emissions. The vast forests submerged behind dams no longer absorb carbon and then slowly decompose underwater, releasing carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. According to Hydro-Quebec’s own science, new dams that would feed Northern Pass have short-term emissions comparable to the natural gas power Northern Pass intends to displace. In other words, Northern Pass may do little to reduce carbon pollution for years after it goes online.

Over the longer term, big hydro projects emit more on a lifecycle basis than renewable technologies like wind and solar, not to mention our cleanest and cheapest resource, energy efficiency.

Collins is right: We need decisions based on facts, whether the issue is the environmental merits of hydropower, underground transmission alternatives, community and ratepayer impacts, or imported power’s role in our energy future. Her column is the latest indication that New Hampshire won’t be getting the facts from Northern Pass.



(The writer is staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation.)

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