LTE: Richard Aishton: A formal comment on a recent letter

Daily Bulldog

I am writing this letter to more formally comment on a recent letter to the Daily Bulldog, authored by Lynn St. Laurent of Hydro Quebec. Her letter was in direct response to a piece in the Daily Bulldog ‘penned’ by J. Nichols.

Let us not forget, right from the start, that HQ stands to make ~$500 million PER YEAR from the NECEC. No sense in beating around the bush to showcase HQ’s motivation for putting a large amount of lipstick on this NECEC pig.

It amuses me that large corporations have certain ways of presenting information that is either false or neglects to provide critical information – sort of ‘it’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you don’t say’ philosophy.

I keep seeing proponents refer to this hydropower as ‘clean energy’. It really isn’t. Here is a view into scientific research that began over 40 years ago:

Primary Harmful Physical Changes Caused by Hydro Dams
* Heat pollution of the atmosphere and river water
* Extreme regional climate change and coastal waters warming
* Reduction of flow energy required to deliver nutrients to coastal waters and ocean currents
* Stagnation of ocean currents that control global weather

Major Ramifications of the Physical Changes Wrought by Hydro Dams
* Loss of Arctic sea ice
* Sea Level Rise
* Destruction of the marine fisheries ecosystem
* Fragmentation of river related ecosystems
* Melting of the permafrost and methane releases
* Increased intensity of flooding and storms
* Cultural genocide
* Threatening United States national security due to climate change and destabilizing the world economy
* Mercury polluted water poisoning people and animals who consume fish

[ – visited 07/11/2020]

I went to the links that Ms. HQ provided as part of her critique of Mr. Nichols’ distrust of HQ’s approach to sustainability. I found one link took me to “Corporate Knights, A Voice for Clean Capitalism”. The opening line about HQ was as follows: “One sure sign Hydro-Québec is doing something right by its stakeholders is the growing number of requests the public utility says it has been getting to sponsor local sports teams across the province. More employees also appear to be wearing clothing with the company’s logo around the office and out in the community.” Certainly an endorsement that warms the heart of even the most ardent opponents of the NECEC, hey?

The constant cacophony of displacing carbon disguises the true nature of the problems created by dams worldwide. If we are truly going to be honest about HQ then let’s just acknowledge that building the dam means clearing land, pouring tons and tons of cement (from clean sources??? – ha) and then flooding thousands of acres of land, often woodlands that haven’t even been harvested. All of this creates large amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 20-30 times more harmful than CO2, that takes 5-10 years to dissipate. After this initial period emissions continue from these shallow lakes but at more manageable levels. But ‘clean energy’ no, perhaps cleaner energy could be used, but not ‘clean’.

As for methyl mercury – try this link for information:

It is laughable that Ms. HQ states that “no biodiversity is lost”. How would they know? Does HQ do a baseline EIS and then monitor changes over time at discreet intervals? Measuring biodiversity loss/change is a huge task and making a blanket statement as she does is disingenuous at best.

The Maine DEP may have carried out a review but, to date, there has never been an Environmental Impact Statement started on the NECEC. The results of the DEP’s “rigorous two-year review” is dubious at best without the information gathered through an EIS. Just one example: Do I want an HVDC line snaking through forested land on overhead poles when industry standards call for burying the line?

There has never been a direct and honest dialogue and exchange of scientifically-derived information between opponents and proponents of the NECEC. The deception employed by HQ, CMP, and Avangrid is inspiring as are the gigantic sums of money spent to convince us that this pig is good for Maine. HQ lost its chance for credibility when it failed to turn up for DEP hearings to make their case under oath.

What Maine wants is for foreign companies to stop trying influence Maine people and government solely for making a financial killing for a project that isn’t even needed because there are already existing routes from HQ to the New England grid.

Richard Aishton

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