AMC FILES VISUAL IMPACT STUDY ON NORTHERN PASS

by Christian Mower on October 1, 2012

THE OLDEST OUTDOOR RECREATION AND CONSERVATION GROUP IN THE U.S. SAYS THE PROPOSED NORTHERN PASS ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINE PROJECT WOULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT – AND NEGATIVE IMPACT – IN AND AROUND THE WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST.

THAT’S THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY THE BOSTON-BASED APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB IN A VISUAL IMPACT ANALYSIS IT FORWARDED TO THE U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY IN LATE SEPTEMBER, 2012.

THE CLUB’S ANALYSIS SAYS VISUAL IMPACTS CAUSED BY THE TRANSMISSION INFRASTRUCTURE “COULD SEVERELY IMPACT THE NORTH COUNTRY’S MOST VALUABLE ASSET – ITS SCENERY – AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN DRAWING TOURISTS TO THE REGION. TOURISM SPENDING IS A CRITICAL ECONOMIC DRIVER IN THE REGION.”

SPECIFICALLY, THE AMC CONTINUES, “THE WIDENING OF AN EXISTING 120 MILE TRANSMISSION CORRIDOR UP TO 410 FEET, AND CONSTRUCTION OF ADDITIONAL TOWERS UP TO 135 FEET, COULD VISUALLY IMPACT 95,000 ACRES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, INCLUDING 3,000 ACRES IN THE WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST AND SIX SCENIC OUTLOOKS AND A TRAIL CROSSING ALONG THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.”

LONGTIME AMC DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH DR. KEN KIMBALL – WHO HOLDS A P.H.D. IN AQUATIC SCIENCES AND ECOLOGY – SAYS THE ANALYSIS TOOK MOST OF THE SUMMER TO COMPLETE.

THE AMC HAD PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED ITS OPPOSITION TO NORTHERN PASS.

NORTHEAST UTILITIES, THE PARENT COMPANY OF PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE – IS ONE OF THE COMPANIES PROPOSING NORTHERN PASS.

PSNH SPOKESMAN MARTIN MURRAY SAYS WHAT THE AMC CALLS ITS “VISUAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT” IS IN FACT A DEEPLY FLAWED DOCUMENT WRITTEN BY CLUB STAFF WITH NO APPARENT QUALIFICATIONS OR EXPERIENCE CONDUCTING A PROFESSIONAL VISUAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT.

MARTIN CONTINUES “UNFORTUNATELY, IN AN ATTEMPT TO STOP A CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT THAT WILL BRING MUCH NEEDED JOBS AND LOW COST POWER TO NEW HAMPSHIRE, THE CLUB HAS CHOSEN TO MISREPRESENT THE ACTUAL PROCESS FOR EVALUATING POTENTIAL VIEW IMPACTS.

THE AMC SAYS IT LOOKED AT AREAS OF LIKELY SCENIC IMPACT AND FOLLOWED U.S. FOREST SERVICE PRINCIPLES.

NORTHERN PASS HAS NOT YET PROPOSED AN ACTUAL ROUTE IN THE NORTH COUNTRY FOR THE LINE – MURRAY SAYS HE EXPECTS THE NEW ROUTE WHERE THERE IS NO EXISTING TRANSMISSION RIGHT OF WAY – WILL BE ANNOUNCED LATE IN 2012 AND THE APPLICATION WILL BE AMENDED. MURRAY SAYS DUE TO THE EXTENSIVE PUBLIC PERMITTING PROCESS INVOLVED, HE EXPECTS THE PROJECT TO BE COMPLETED BY LATE 2016 OR EARLY 2017.

FOR INFORMATION ON NORTHERN PASS, SEE THE WEBSITES AT www.northernpass.us and www.outdoors.org.

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