It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) continues to mislead the public on the Northern Pass project. The project has previously responded to CLF’s delaying tactics and its flawed study questioning the environmental benefits of hydro power.
Continuing on its mission to obstruct, delay, and mislead on Northern Pass, CLF has now attacked the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the process used to select its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) contractor. CLF complained last week that the Northern Pass project influenced the selection of the DOE contractor.
In reality, CLF’s claim is a baseless attempt to distort the truth and mislead the public. In a letter filed today with DOE, Northern Pass sets the record straight on the process used to select the contractor, and exposes CLF’s flawed claims. The letter makes clear the following:
- The contractor search process for Northern Pass was entirely proper. In fact, the contractor selection process for this project went well above and beyond normal NEPA requirements by requiring the selected contractors have no current or past relationship with Northern Pass, Northeast Utilities, or any of its affiliates.
- It is routine for DOE and other federal agencies to ask applicants for projects requiring NEPA review to bear the burden of the search process for a NEPA contractor. The integrity of the process is assured by the conflict of interest standards in the NEPA regulations, the agency’s role as final decision-maker on the contractor selection and DOE’s supervision of the work of the contractor. In this case, DOE imposed more stringent standards than the regulations require and played a very active role in the search process, including suggesting some candidates and ruling out others.
- The final decision of which contractors to hire for Northern Pass belonged solely to the DOE. DOE and Northern Pass followed the established and accepted process for selecting contractors. It was no different for any other project seeking permit approval from DOE under the NEPA, and Northern Pass followed DOE’s instructions to ensure its criteria were met.
- Northern Pass did not structure DOE’s relationship with these contractors. In fact, the record shows nothing of the sort. The project closely followed DOE’s instructions at each step in the process; ultimately, the Memorandum of Understanding under which the contractor will work was finalized by the DOE and included provisions underscoring DOE’s control and direction over the contractor.
In support of these points, the Northern Pass letter to DOE relies on the same documents (exhibits) cited by CLF in its complaint. Upon review, it is clear that CLF selectively quoted from a skewed choice of documents in an attempt to support its goal of discrediting the DOE process.
A review of the facts clearly shows that there is absolutely no merit to CLF’s “complaint.” We are pleased to see that DOE has responded to CLF’s outrageous claims and has set the record straight.
The Northern Pass project remains committed to delivering significant energy, environmental, and economic benefits to the New Hampshire and the region and we will continue to work with regulators, policymakers, communities, and other responsible stakeholders as the project moves forward.