Northern Pass - Issue Summary

Should utilities be allowed to build a Northern Pass?

Issue Facts

By: LFDA Editor

Northern Pass is a proposed 180-mile transmission line which would bring electricity from Hydro-Quebec, a provincial government-owned utility which generates most of its power from hydroelectric dams, from the NH-Quebec border to a substation in Deerfield, where it would connect to the existing power grid.

Developers tout the project as providing "clean," renewable electricity, but landowners in the area and conservationists object to the project's possible deleterious impact on property values and the environment.

Project Details

The project is a partnership between Hydro-Quebec, Northeast Utilities, and NSTAR. The latter two companies are privately-owned utilities which provide electricity and natural gas to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire through the Northeast Utilities subsidiary Public Service of New Hampshire.

Proponents say that the project would benefit the state and the region on several levels.  The "clean" electricity, they say, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise result from coal-generated electricity.  The influx of new power would lower electricity prices overall.  The power would not be subject to the shortages and price spikes of the fossil fuel market. The partnership also says the project would benefit the state with 1,200 jobs per year over the three-year construction phase, and add new property taxes to state and local budgets.

But opponents say that these benefits are far outweighed by the negatives.

While much of the line would follow existing transmission lines, the Northern Pass towers would be taller than many existing power lines.  The upper 40 miles would also require new rights of way to be cut through forests and other undeveloped land, much of it privately owned.  Many of the landowners and nearby residents say that building the line would destroy the region's natural beauty, and would negatively impact both the quality of life and the economic benefits derived from tourism and agriculture.  In summer 2013 Northern Pass officials announced they were changing the route to bury eight miles of transmission lines underground.  However, many Northern Pass opponents argue that all of the lines should be buried.

At one point residents also feared that the Northern Pass Project would use eminent domain to seize private land.  That fear was allayed when the 2012 legislature passed a bill preventing the Northern Pass from using eminent domain, at least in the near future.  To learn more, visit our Eminent Domain page.

Currently, the Northern Pass project is facing opposition at all levels of government, from the grassroots on up to U.S. Sens. Ayotte and Shaheen, both of whom have voiced concerns about how the project is being moved forward.

 

2014 Legislation

Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) sponsored SB 245, which requires applicants to the Site Evaluation Committee "to present alternatives, including but not limited to the burial of energy transmission facilities in publicly-owned transportation rights of way."  The bill also allows the Site Evaluation Committee to charge an application fee. The Senate and House amended the passed the measure and it was signed by Gov. Hassan.

Rep. Laurence Rappaport (R-Colebrok) sponsored HB 569, a carryover from the 2013 session that requires the Site Evaluation Committee to give preferential treatment to transmission line plans that bury the lines within the state’s transportation corridors.  HB 569 passed the House and went to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where it was laid on the table and effectively killed.

Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashu) sponsored HB 1456, a 2014 bill which would have required the Site Evaluation Committee to consider municipal and regional concerns, and adverse effects before issuing a certificate for an energy facility.  The House killed the bill in March.

2013 Legislation

Nine pieces of legislation filed in the 2013 Legislature had a potential impact on projects such as the Northern Pass:

HB 166 required that transmission lines for future energy projects be buried if they are not needed for the “public good.” The bill does not define public good.  The House killed HB 166 in January 2014.

HB 568 required the transmission lines of all “elective” projects be buried. Northern Pass is considered an elective project.  The House killed HB 568 in January 2014.

HB 586 placed a moratorium on new energy projects for one year.  The House killed HB 586 in January 2014.

HB 580 placed a moratorium on all wind and energy projects until the state develops a “comprehensive energy plan.”  The House killed HB 580 in January 2014.

HB 449 called for an economic impact analysis for future energy projects to determine what they will mean for jobs and incomes in the local communities. The bill would also require the state to consider the input of local communities before approving an energy project.  The House killed HB 449 in January 2014.

HB 484 required an energy project to receive public approval anywhere the project’s structures are visible. Any town that could see a structure would register its approval or disapproval by a town vote.  The House killed HB 484 in January 2014.

SB 99 increased the public’s representation in hearings before the state board that issues permits for energy projects. It also sets additional standards for these projects, including an analysis of how views and property values would be affected by a project.  SB 99 passed the Senate in March, was approved by the House on June 5 and signed by the governor June 27.

SB 191 created a state energy plan for evaluating future energy projects.  SB 191 was signed by the governor in the summer of 2013.

HB 306 sought to create a commission to develop an energy strategy for the state.  HB 306 was signed by the governor in the summer of 2013.

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Sign a petition

Click here to sign a petition in favor of burying or blocking the Northern Pass, or click here to sign a petition expressing support for the Northern Pass.

Contact an advocacy organization

The "Learn More" links to the left include several organizations that are actively campaigning for or against the Northern Pass. Contact their leaders to get involved on the ground.


Comment online

Add a post above or post your thoughts directly on our Facebook page.  The LFDA regularly summarizes our fans' Facebook comments and reports to lawmakers. Click here to read the LFDA comment report on the Northern Pass.

Contact your representatives

Use the LFDA website to find the contact information for your state Representatives, Senators, and Governor, then write an e-mail, snail-mail a letter, or make a phone call to let them know where you stand. Not sure what to say?  Visit our Take Action page for a script.

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Issue Status

On June 27, 2013, Northern Pass officials said they intend to reroute the path of the high tension lines in order to put about eight miles of lines underground.  However, opposition to the Northern Pass continues.

See the Issue Summary for details on Northern Pass-related measures considered by the 2014 Legislature.

News

Nov. 24, 2014
NHPR: Northern Pass opponents' lawsuit thrown out by judge
Union Leader: Judge rejects reconsideration of lawsuit against Northern Pass
Nov. 19, 2014
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass officials willing to bury more transmission lines, but how much more?
Nov. 13, 2014
Union Leader: Called a 'casualty' of Northern Pass, Campton's Owl's Nest Resort sold for $2 million in foreclosure
Oct. 17, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Power line through Vermont, similar to Northern Pass but underwater or buried, moves ahead
Oct. 2, 2014
Concord Monitor: Hassan delays vote to confirm Odell, Merrill to energy siting committee
Sept. 26, 2014
Concord Monitor: New Hampshire Wind Watch raises opposition to Odell’s nomination to energy siting committee
Sept. 24, 2014
Union Leader: Wind foes decry Odell nomination to site committee
Sept. 18, 2014
Concord Monitor: Hassan names Odell, Merrill to committee that permits Northern Pass, wind projects
Sept. 16, 2014
NHPR: PUC asked to clarify rules on relationship between Northern Pass and PSNH
Sept. 3, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Nashua Chunky’s Cinema to hold free screening of anti-Northern Pass movie
Aug. 29, 2014
Union Leader: Ayotte says Northern Pass lines should be buried beneath roads
Aug. 28, 2014
Seacoast Online: Ayotte to go hiking, learn more about Northern Pass 
Aug. 27, 2014
WMUR: NH delegation: More transparency needed in Northern Pass federal permitting process
Aug. 14, 2014
Concord Monitor: Republican U.S. Senate candidates weigh on in climate change, energy policy and Northern Pass
Aug. 9, 2014
NHPR: Federal report: Significant advantages to burying Northern Pass type power lines
Aug. 3, 2014
Concord Monitor: Videos emerge that drive petitions against Northern Pass
July 31, 2014
NHPR: 2nd Congressional District GOP contenders: What they say about Northern Pass
July 18, 2014
Union Leader: Dueling Hassan Northern Pass pictures draw attention
July 17, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Republicans question Hassan accepting $25K from pro-Northern Pass electrical union
July 11, 2014
Union Leader: AMC asking N.E. governors to stop Northern Pass lines
Concord Monitor: DOE surveying Concord roadways along Northern Pass route
June 29, 2014
Union Leader: To gain support throughout NH, Northern Pass focusing on aesthetics
Union Leader: Northern Pass won't count on regional help in New England
June 23, 2014
Union Leader: Boost for Northern Pass partners?
June 10, 2014
Union Leader: PSNH, forest society executives continue to seek Northern Pass deal
May 16, 2014
Union Leader: 16-8 Senate vote effectively kills bill to bury Northern Pass lines
May 7, 2014
NHPR: Vt. governor weighs in on Northern Pass burial
May 4, 2014
Union Leader: Feds to study about two dozen possible Northern Pass routes
May 3, 2014
NHPR: Federal energy dept. releases list of Northern Pass alternatives
Foster's Daily Democrat: DOE releases Northern Pass alternative routes
Concord Monitor: U.S. Department of Energy releases list of alternate routes for Northern Pass project
April 24, 2014
Keene Sentinel: PSNH president talks Northern Pass, alternative energy
April 15, 2014

Union Leader: Poll: More than 25% haven't heard of Northern Pass; mixed attitudes for others
April 6, 2014
Union Leader: NH officials again request options for Northern Pass path
March 25, 2014
Seacoast Online: NH chamber poll: Support for casino, Northern Pass
Eagle Tribune: Survey shows support for Northern Pass
March 20, 2014
Concord Monitor: Senate holds hearing on buried lines bill
March 15, 2014
NHPR: DOE releases summary of comments on Northern Pass
Concord Monitor: Thousands submit comments on Northern Pass
March 13, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: New Hampshire Senate to vote on buried power lines
Feb. 20, 2014
NHPR: Latest Northern Pass burial bill would send revenue to highway fund
Union Leader: Advertising campaign pushes for underground Northern Pass
Feb. 6, 2014
Union Leader: DOE to release Northern Pass route report
Seacoast Online: U.S. DOE to reveal alternate Northern Pass routes
NHPR: DOE says it will reveal alternate Northern Pass routes
Concord Monitor: U.S. Department of Energy to reveal alternate Northern Pass routes
Feb. 4, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Fed DOE mum on alternate routes for Northern Pass
Feb. 1, 2014
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass to Department of Energy: Reveal alternative routes
Jan. 30, 2014
Union Leader: Moratorium fails for wind, other projects in NH House
Seacoast Online: NH House kills moratorium on new energy projects
NHPR: House kills proposed moratorium on wind farms, transmission line projects
Eagle Tribune: NH House nixes moratorium on new energy projects
Jan. 29, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH House mulls moratorium on new energy projects
Jan. 27, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: House voting on moratorium on new energy projects
Union Leader: Bill calling for energy plan moratorium up for a vote
Jan. 23, 2014
Union Leader: NH House backs burial of Northern Pass, other future transmission lines
Concord Monitor: House backs bill targeting Northern Pass, approves in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants
WMUR: NH House passes bill targeting Northern Pass
Jan. 22, 2014
NHPR: NH House to take up wind, transmission moratorium
Jan. 17, 2014
NHPR: Beyond Northern Pass: Where New England will get its power remains uncertain
Jan. 16, 2014
NHPR: Power push: Learning from NH's first HVDC power line
NHPR: A shifting baseline: Should we 'get used' to Northern Pass?
Jan. 15, 2014
NHPR: Northern Pass, first in a three-part series
Jan. 12, 2014
Seacoast Online: 'Northern Trespass' follows controversial power project
Jan. 6, 2014
Concord Monitor: 2014 an important year for Northern Pass plan
Jan. 2, 2014
Concord Monitor: NH bill targets Northern Pass, wind projects
Jan. 1, 2014
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass line clears regulatory hurdle
NHPR: ISO-NE approves Northern Pass interconnectivity
Dec. 26, 2013

NHPR: When siting utility projects those who want local control admire Colorado where a town can say "No!"
Dec. 19, 2013
Union Leader: Plymouth hosts hearing on bill for tougher scrutiny of power projects such as Northern Pass
Nov. 13, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH House panel endorses bill encouraging Northern Pass to go underground
Oct. 30, 2013
Concord Monitor: Appalachian Mountain Club counters Northern Pass with new route video
Oct. 28, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Northern Pass won’t pay to bury lines in push for Quebec electricity, official says 
Union Leader: AMC videos project Northern Pass route's visual impact
Oct. 24, 2013
NHPR: Ayotte says Northern Pass should pay to have lines buried
Oct. 22, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass: North Country resort's claims 'wrong'
Oct. 18, 2013
Concord Monitor: Resort-versus-Northern Pass lawsuit heats up
Oct. 10, 2013
NHPR: Resort sues Northern Pass over right-of-way
Oct. 9, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Northern Pass opponents bring ‘bury the lines’ argument to Telegraph
Oct. 6, 2013
Union Leader: Golf course's suit targets Northern Pass accord
Oct. 4, 2013
NHBR: Facing foreclosure, White Mts. resort sues Northern Pass
Sept. 27, 2013
Union Leader: Colebrook shows up wearing orange against Northern Pass
WMUR: Final Dept. of Energy hearing held on Northern Pass project
Sept. 26, 2013
WMUR: North Country residents weigh in on Northern Pass
Sept. 25, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass, federal agency criticized at hearing in Plymouth
Union Leader: Tensions high at latest Northern Pass hearing in Plymouth
Sept. 24, 2013
Union Leader: DOE hosts packed forum on hotly debated Northern Pass project
Concord Monitor: Hundreds of friends, foes of Northern Pass turn out at public forum in Concord
Sept. 23, 2013
Concord Monitor: Federal officials to gather Northern Pass input at ‘scoping meetings’ this week
WMUR: U.S. Energy Dept. to hold Northern Pass project hearings this week
Sept. 21, 2013
Concord Monitor: Hassan appears to take harder line on Northern Pass, saying it offers “all costs and few, if any, savings” for NH
Sept. 19, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass application 'incomplete'
Sept. 17, 2013
Citizen of Laconia: Opponents of Northern Pass speak out
Sept. 15, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass foes urge more research into burying lines
Sept. 14, 2013
WMUR: Northern Pass to host upcoming open houses
Sept. 11, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass hearing moved to Colebrook
Sept. 10, 2013
Union Leader: DOE gears up for hearings on Northern Pass project
Concord Monitor: Concord could become consulting party in Northern Pass project
NHPR: Congressional delegation seeks change for Northern Pass hearing
Sept. 6, 2013
NHPR: 'Scoping' hearings start on Northern Pass this month
Sept. 5, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass hosts open house in Concord
WMUR: Northern Pass makes its case to Concord area
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass open house held for Concord, Canterbury residents
NHPR: Many opponents attend southernmost Northern Pass open house
Sept. 1, 2013
Concord Monitor: Find out where Northern Pass would cross Concord, Canterbury
August 21, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass $7.5M jobs initiative blasted by foes, lauded by supporters
WMUR: Lawmakers ask for more rigorous review of Northern Pass proposal
August 20, 2013
WMUR: Northern Pass announces job creation fund
Union Leader: Northern Pass pledges $7.5 million for North Country jobs
Seacoast Online: Northern Pass announces $7.5M job fund for locals
NHPR: Northern Pass promises $7.5 million jobs program - if project gets okay
NHPR: NH congressional delegation questions DOE about Northern Pass route
August 19, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass comment period opens, DOE moves closer to hearings
August 17, 2013

Union Leader: Northern Pass touts jobs creation fund
August 14, 2013
Union Leader: Forest Society predicts Northern Pass land dispute will end up in court
August 9, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass says state could overrule Forest Society land claims
August 7, 2013
NHPR: House committee takes up tabled Northern Pass bills
NHPR: Northern Pass holds first town meeting on new route
Union Leader: Northern Pass dominates legislative panel's talk
Concord Monitor: N.H. House panel taking a second look at bills targeting Northern Pass-style transmission lines
August 6, 2013
WMUR: Northern Pass holds meetings to address concerns
Union Leader: Northern Pass project hosts first open house in Millsfield
August 5, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH panel takes up bills inspired by Northern Pass
August 1, 2013
Union Leader: Forest society tells Northern Pass: Hey, we own land under Route 3
July 31, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass predicts approval in two years
July 26, 2013

Concord Monitor: ‘Northern Trespass’ film takes one side, draws sell-out crowd to Red River Theaters
Union Leader: 'Northern Trespass' talk at film hosted by NBA player Matt Bonner 
July 24, 2013
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass chief Gary Long say support for project increasing
July 23, 2013
WMUR: Matt Bonner pitches anti-Northern Pass documentary
Union Leader: Matt Bonner to emcee movie Q&A about Northern Pass
July 19, 2013
Union Leader: Franklin mayor says Northern Pass would solve problems
July 16, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass blankets state with brochure touting new route
July 13, 2013
Union Leader: PSNH chief steps down to focus on Northern Pass project
Seacoast Online: PSNH chief takes top Northern Pass role
NHPR: PSNH president to change role; will focus on Northern Pass
Concord Monitor: PSNH President Gary Long shifting role to focus on Northern Pass
July 5, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass submits route plan to feds
July 1, 2013
Seacoast Online: Northern Pass to submit revised route plan to feds
June 29, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass route unveiled with underground stretch pushing cost to $1.4B
Union Leader: Northern Pass proposal gets a cool, cautious reception
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass opponents redirecting their fight
June 28, 2013
Concord Monitor: New Northern Pass route includes 8 miles underground
Citizen of Laconia: Northern Pass announcement gets mixed review from local officials
NHPR: PSNH announces new route for Northern Pass
NHPR: New Northern Pass route leaves PSNH with thousands of extra acres
Union Leader: New Northern Pass route unveiled
WMUR: Northern Pass unveils new plan for power lines
June 27, 2013
WMUR: Northern Pass to propose underground lines
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass to announce new proposed route
NHPR: Hassan signs bill to study site evaluation committee
June 20, 2013
Union Leader: Gov. Hassan doubts Northern Pass easement effort
June 19, 2013
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass eyes underground crossing of protected land
Union Leader: Shaheen, Gregg voice opposition to Northern Pass electricity lines
June 18, 2013
NHPR: As Northern Pass opponents worry, no hint from Hassan on whether she'll sign Senate Bill 99
June 13, 2013
Union Leader: Governor to get bill to study changes to way Northern Pass, wind farms are sited
June 4, 2013
Union Leader: Power line study buoys Northern Pass foes
June 3, 2013

Union Leader: Power line study buoys Northern Pass foes
May 18, 2013
Union Leader: Lawyer says Northern Pass in 'a corner'
NHPR: For Northern Pass, crossing conservation land would mean a long and rocky legal road
May 16, 2013
Seacoast Online: Documentary film explores Northern Pass project
May 9, 2013
Union Leader: Hassan rips Conn. bill as benefitting Northern Pass
Concord Monitor: Hassan to Connecticut: Curb your Northern Pass bill
NHPR: Northern Pass foes worry a huge conservation tract in being eyed
May 8, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass money dividing North Country opinions
May 3, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass faces another delay
NHPR: Northern Pass says it is still seeking consensus
Foster's Daily Democrat: Utility chief says NH's Northern Pass will be built
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass official: 'This line will be built'
May 1, 2013
NHPR: Dept. of Energy responds to Shaheen and Ayotte's Northern Pass concerns
April 20, 2013
WMUR: NH photographer to produce Northern Pass film
April 16, 2013

NHPR: A new battle: review of historical impact on Northern Pass begins
April 2, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass vs. the unregulated
March 30, 2013
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass misses another route deadline
March 29, 2013
NHPR: Senate opts for study on Northern Pass and wind farms
Concord Monitor: Senate rejects moratorium on wind farms and Northern Pass
March 27, 2013
Union Leader: Legislation gives Northern Pass project a pass, foes insist
March 13, 2013
NHPR: Shaheen, Ayotte query feds on Nothern Pass trespassing question
Union Leader: DOE hears from Sens. Shaheen, Ayotte on Northern Pass project
March 6, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass told in White Mountains: Get off our land
Concord Monitor: Bills aimed at wind turbines, Northern Pass retained by NH House committee
March 1, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass to head to Vermont?
Feb. 28, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH panel delays vote on five Northern Pass-related bills
Feb. 22, 2013
Union Leader: Northeast Utilities anticipates higher cost, later date for Northern Pass completion
Union Leader: DRED commissioner nominee questioned about Northern Pass
Feb. 20, 2013
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass official: Project not harmed by recent conservation easements
Feb. 13, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Bills restricting Northern Pass opposed
Union Leader: Northern Pass seen as focus of five bills
WMUR: Business leaders oppose efforts to hinder Northern Pass
Feb. 11, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH House hearing bills inspired by Northern Pass
Feb. 8, 2013
Union Leader: Northern Pass to cross Route 3?
Feb. 7, 2013
Concord Monitor: Is Northern Pass looking at state land?
Concord Monitor: 10 bills target projects like Northern Pass
Feb. 3, 2013
Concord Monitor: Deerfield residents oppose Northern Pass
Jan. 23, 2013
Union Leader: More dueling land deals along proposed Northern Pass route
Jan. 21, 2013
Union Leader: Not all in Franklin favor Northern Pass project
Jan. 10, 2013
NHPR: With $4.2M wrapped up in Northern Pass, city of Franklin to hire lobbyist this session
Jan. 9, 2013
Concord Monitor: Franklin to hire lobbyists on Northern Pass issues
Jan. 3, 2013
WMUR: Opponents question new Northern Pass route
Jan. 2, 2013
WMUR: Utilities say they have new route for Norther Pass
Jan. 1, 2013
NHPR: Northern Pass misses one deadline, announces new path
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass misses deadline to unveil new route
Union Leader: Northern Pass developers say they have new route
Dec. 27, 2013
Union Leader: Deadline looms for Northern Pass route
Dec. 16, 2012
NHPR: Ayotte: North Country should have 'the voice' in Northern Pass
Concord Monitor: Gauging support for Northern Pass isn't easy
Dec. 15, 2012
Concord Monitor: Forest Society unveils new blocks to Northern Pass
Dec. 14, 2012
NHPR: DOE to Shaheen: No problem with Northern Pass contractor
Dec. 4, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Nashua Chamber board unanimously supports Northern Pass power project
Dec. 2, 2012
Union Leader: Northern Pass power line route in 'final stages'
Nov. 23, 2012
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass official under fire over assessment of project's support
Union Leader: Northern Pass gains another 20 miles of right-of-way for towers
Nov. 22, 2012
NHPR: Northern Pass leases Coos land linked to Yale
Nov. 21, 2012
NHPR: Exec's statements on Northern Pass challenged
June 13, 2012
WMUR: Study questions Norther Pass revenues
Concord Monitor: Northern Pass isn't best option, rival study says
June 10, 2012
Union Leader: Northern Pass buys key land
April 18, 2012

Seacoast Online: Panel to discuss Northern Pass
March 15, 2012
NHPR: Two of three North Country towns okay ordinances to fight corporate power - and Northern Pass
March 12, 2012

Union Leader: Northern Pass shows up on a dozen ballots
March 6, 2012
Concord Monitor: Eminent domain is restricted: Northern Pass can't use it
March 4, 2012

Concord Monitor: New push in Northern Pass fight
February 15, 2012

NHPR: Hiking for the cause: Northern Pass
February 10, 2012

Keene Sentinel: Eminent domain protection
NHPR: Northern Pass Foes Eye New Tactic: Attacking Corporate Power
February 12, 2012
Union Leader: Land-taking ban headed to governor's desk
January 23, 2012
Union Leader: Number of Northern Pass Jobs Questioned
Union Leader: Northern Pass: taking land for greed, not need
January 16, 2012
Union Leader: Protecting property: Northern Pass and the law