Despite Revised Proposal, Shaheen Still Concerned About Northern Pass

Aug 25, 2015

Jeanne Shaheen
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen called the most Northern Pass recent proposal an important step forward, but says she’s not yet ready to endorse the project.

Speaking with NHPR’s Morning Edition, Shaheen says while she’s pleased more of the project’s power lines would be buried, she still has concerns about its impact.

"We’ve heard loud and clear from folks who say this is going to have an impact on my property, on tourism in the North Country, so I think it’s important they be responsive to that," she said. "I think it’s important that there be a benefit to people in New Hampshire as a result of what they’re proposing."

In a revised proposal released last week, Eversource says it will bury 60 miles of power lines along the 192-mile route, 52 of which run through the White Mountains.

The company also says it will set aside $200 million to go toward tourism and economic development in the state.

Four public meetings are scheduled for early next month where people can weigh in on the project.

The first meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 2 in Concord.

You can read the entire transcript of Sen. Shaheen's interview here:

Eversource last week released its revised proposal for the Northern Pass project. The new proposal would bury 60 miles of power lines, including 52 miles through the White Mountains.

Is this new proposal enough to win your support?

I think it’s an important step forward and as they say in the ads that they’re running now, they’ve tried to listen to the voters of New Hampshire and they want to continue to do that. They have some hearings set up around the state in the coming months to listen more to listen to New Hampshire citizens about their concerns. I think we need to let that process play out.

What will it take for you to support the project? Is it simply more buried lines, or is there something else you’re looking for?

I’m concerned about the impact on the environment and the impact on the citizens in the communities where those lines are going through. We’ve heard loud and clear from folks who say this is going to have an impact on my property, on tourism in the North Country, so I think it’s important they be responsive to that. I think it’s important that there be a benefit to people in New Hampshire as a result of what they’re proposing.

Let’s move to the nuclear deal with Iran. Since you came out in support of the deal, some prominent Senators in your own party say they’ll vote against it.

In opposing the deal, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez called the agreement aspirational and based on hope and said the United States would be forfeiting its leverage.

How do you respond to this kind of criticism from your own party?

We’ve heard two Democrats who have come out against it. I think there are many more who say they support the deal as I do. I disagree with Sen. Menendez. This deal is not about aspiration; it’s about holding Iran accountable and making sure that they comply. That’s why the inspections are there and will be the most intrusive inspections we’ve ever seen in this kind of a negotiated settlement. 

This deal is not about aspiration; it's about holding Iran accountable and making sure that they comply. That's why the inspections are there and will be the most intrusive inspections we've ever seen in this kind of a negotiated settlement.

  I think if we’re looking to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon – that’s my goal – the best way to do it is this negotiated deal.

You were in Ossipee last week to visit the Ossipee Pine Barrens, where you called for Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That funding is due to expire next month as some Republicans are calling for reform of the program.

What’s at stake here for New Hampshire?

New Hampshire gets a significant amount of money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Through our forest legacy program, it helps preserve forests like the Pine Barrens in Ossipee, which are a really unique habitat.

One of the things that the LWCF does is it takes funding from off-shore leases and the money from those leases costs are supposed to go into the fund. Unfortunately, for most of the time since that legislation passed in the 1960s, Congress has stolen the money from that fund and left only a small amount of the $900 million that’s supposed to go into the LWCF. I think this is something we need to support. We not only need to reauthorize it, but we need to fund it.

What are some of the reforms that are being called for? Some Republicans have said this is a states’ rights issue.

One of the things that have been discussed is trying to provide some funding to states that have leases off their shores. Coastal states, like New Hampshire, would get a percentage of that funding because much of the infrastructure from those leases is housed in the adjoining coastal state. That’s an option I’m willing to look at, assuming it means we’re going to actually provide more funding for LWCF. If it’s a way to take funding away from the fund, then I don’t support that.