The National Trust For Historic Preservation: Northern Pass Would Cut 'Destructive Path'

Oct 7, 2015

At a public hearing last month in Whitefield Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan heard dozens of speakers opposing the project despite plans to bury an additional 52 miles.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared the landscape along the 192-mile route Northern Pass wants to use for its transmission lines to be a “national treasure" and says the project threatens “New Hampshire’s historic character.”

In a statement Wednesday, the organization said the Northern Pass route would cut a “destructive path” through some of the state’s most scenic and historic areas.

However, Jessica Pumphrey, a spokeswoman for the trust, said supporting documents were for internal use.

"There are tons of factors that we weigh when deciding if we are going to use our resources to save a place," she wrote in an email.

The Trust, however, is urging the U.S. Department of Energy to pay a lot more attention to the impact scenic and historic places as it studies the project, saying the federal agency's effort so far has been inadequate.

“The existing documentation is fairly thin and non-specific," says Rebecca Harris, who is with the trust’s Boston office.

The law requires the DOE to consider whether the project will adversely affect any of the state’s historical sites including its vistas.

New Hampshire officials have already criticized the DOE’s evaluation in that area as lacking depth.

It is also likely the state’s Site Evaluation Committee will consider the trust’s position as it decides whether to approve the project.

Both the DOE and Site Evaluation Committee must approve the project before it can go forward.

In response, Northern Pass said it also treasures the state’s landscape and consequently modified the route to include 52 additional miles of buried lines, bringing the total to 60 miles.

However, those additional 52 miles are around and through The White Mountain National Forest, where Northern Pass was seen as facing a serious challenge getting approval from forest officials to erect towers.

Opponents have urged the entire line be buried.

Northern Pass officials have said that would be so expensive it would kill the project.

Congress established The National Trust in 1949 but is now a non-profit and does not receive any federal funds.