Introducing Scenic and Historic Places of New Hampshire National Treasure

October 5, 2015 by Rebecca Harris

While we are just announcing Scenic Landscapes of New Hampshire as a National Treasure today, members of the project team have been busy working toward our goal of advocating for New Hampshire’s special places in the face of the proposed Northern Pass transmission line for more than a year.In fact, the Boston Field Office and the Law Department has been involved since 2011, when we were made aware of Northern Pass through our partner, the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance.At that time, the Department of Energy was soliciting comments for its scoping document as part of its review process for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).The National Trust provided comments, emphasizing the need for careful consideration of historic and archaeological resources, landscapes, and scenic areas.In the intervening years, we signed on as consulting parties in the Section 106 review of the National Historic Preservation Act and continued to participate in the NEPA process.

This year, we teamed up with the Preservation Alliance to bring five advocacy workshops to communities throughout the state that are in the path of the proposed power line.The grassroots movement against the current proposal for the power line is extremely strong and led by passionate advocates.The workshops were organized to learn from the grassroots network and to add preservation-based tools to their advocacy tool kits.

In the last two months, three key regulatory steps were made by the project proponent, Northern Pass Transmission, LLC, and the Department of Energy.In late July, the Department of Energy released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and is currently soliciting input from the public.In August, the company proposing the Northern Pass project, Northern Pass Transmission LLC (“Northern Pass”), made public a revised plan, which includes burying an additional 52.3 miles.Then in early September, Northern Pass held a series of public meetings to fulfill a requirement of its application to the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state agency that is charged with reviewing and permitting all proposed energy projects in New Hampshire.As a result, the National Trust, the Preservation Alliance, environmental organizations, and advocates have been reading and preparing comments on the DEIS, analyzing the new route, and preparing for the anticipated project application to the SEC in October.In addition, the Section 106 review slowly continues. We are encouraging everyone who cares about New Hampshire’s historic sites and scenic landscapes to participate in the DEIS process by submitting comments and participating in the public meetings if they are able.

At the moment, it is not the National Trust’s position to say that the Northern Pass project is not needed; rather, we want to ensure that throughout the planning process and the various state and federal reviews, New Hampshire’s citizens and communities are given a voice and that the state’s historic places and landscapes are treated fairly.If the transmission line is built, it should not be at the expense of the character and spirit of the Granite State’s special places.We live in an age of technology and innovation.By making use of this technology, surely a solution can be found that puts place before power lines.

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