North Country
2:29 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

DOE Collecting Info Without A Complete Northern Pass Route Not Unusual, Says Law Prof

Some North Country landowners are surprised that Department of Energy contractors are gathering environmental information on the Northern Pass project even though the route isn’t complete.

But Patrick Parenteau, a lawyer professor and expert in environmental law at the Vermont Law School, is not surprised.

“But it is not at all unusual, even during a scoping process, for the applicant to get out there with a consultant on the ground and start doing inventories of what exactly is going to be affected by the project,” he says.

Contractors are required to get information from all seasons so gathering information when there is snow on the ground is important, he says.

Earlier this month Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte asked DOE whether it was appropriate for such work to be underway when the entire route isn’t finished.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy told NHPR such work is allowed under the so-called scoping period which is still underway.

But Christophe Courchesne, a lawyer with the Conservation Law Foundation, says this is another example of why DOE should be more transparent, posting a notice announcing its work plan.

Shaheen and Ayotte also questioned whether PSNH can give the DOE contractors permission to go on private property. Some landowners have argued the utility doesn't have that right.

Meanwhile, Northern Pass has said it will announce the long awaited new route through the North Country by the end of this month.

Previously it predicted a new route by the end of December.