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My Turn: Site Evaluation Committee bill was no victory

Last modified: 6/16/2014 9:41:01 AM
Rep. David Borden’s self-congratulatory op-ed (Sunday Monitor, June 8) about Senate Bill 245, the Site Evaluation Committee bill, demands comment.

The Site Evaluation Committee is the one-stop entity that has the sole authority to permit large energy projects, like big transmission projects such as the Northern Pass, and wind and pipeline projects.

The Site Evaluation Committee authority pre-empts town planning and zoning boards, regional planning boards, any local controls. All environmental permit processes, such as wetlands and water permits, air permits and alteration of terrain permits, are rolled into the purview of the Site Evaluation Committee. The projects before the committee are not adding a room to your house or building a deck, these are multi-million-dollar projects, and in the case of the Northern Pass, a billion-dollar-plus project. These are projects that are promoted by well-heeled businesses; projects that will have adverse impacts on towns and property owners.

Borden argues that the bill provides a “path to permanent staffing and funding” for the Site Evaluation Committee. Here is Borden’s “path”: The committee will be given a one-time $500,000 grant from the Renewable Energy Fund, a funding source for renewable energy projects, money that may fund the Site Evaluation Committee for maybe a year. Instead of requiring that energy project developers pay a significant application fee and enacting a proper revenue appropriation, the money necessary to fund the Site Evaluation Committee in support of its immense responsibilities to New Hampshire (which the energy project promoters can well afford), Borden punts the ball down the road, subject to the political whims of future legislatures.

(Arthur B. Cunningham lives in Hopkinton.)


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