WITH PUBLIC KEPT IN DARK, FirstLight schedules secret endgame negotiations on Northfield’s deadly river vacuuming with federal and state fisheries agencies this December 2nd.

Many people have asked when the critical secret talks are happening—finally I can offer news…

PLEASE READ TO THE BOTTOM and find out how you can meet the PLAYERS–the agencies and agents CHARGED WITH representing the interests OF THE RIVER and US!

Here is a section of FirstLight’s latest license “extension request” filing, sent electronically to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday, November 12.

In the last three months, FirstLight and the other parties have made substantial progress in negotiating relicensing solutions. The settlement parties have exchanged proposals on fish passage, flows, and recreation. FirstLight is currently holding discussions on fish passage and flows with federal and state resource agencies. FirstLight and the agencies held fish passage and flow meetings on September 24, October 14, and November 10, 2021 and have established an additional meeting on December 2.

The critical next backroom session, scheduled for December 2, 2021, includes the following named agencies responsible for the fate of a living Connecticut River ecosystem for the decades into the future. This from FirstLight’s FERC extension filing at its conclusion:

“The following settlement parties have affirmatively indicated that they support this timeline: the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and American Whitewater Association. Therefore, FirstLight requests that the Commission continue to defer the issuance of the Notice of Acceptance and Ready for Environmental Analysis until after January 31, 2022.”

The US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries are the public agencies charged with “conditioning authority” to protect the Connecticut and its migratory fish at the grim and deadly ecosystem bottleneck, Northfield Mountain. Also, charged and responsible here in the Bay State as well—are the MA Division of Fish & Wildlife and Division of Environmental Protection. These are the guardians and enforcers of US and state environmental laws and protections. They are the public trustees of our river and fish. This is the public’s river.

juvenile Connecticut River shad, dead

Northfield Mountain’s miserable suction literally kills hundreds of millions of eggs, larvae and juvenile migratory and resident fish annually. Will these agencies fail the river once again—and for all, by letting Northfield reverse-suck the life out of our legally mandated fish runs? Or will they put their money where their responsibility lies, and shut its mouth to killing juvenile fish?

That is what’s at stake here. FirstLight is playing for keeps with the future of our children’s ecosystem, for a net-power-loss, deadly energy wasting contraption with profits heading first to Delaware and thence to Canada and its parent owner, PSP Investments.

There is nothing responsible or democratic about a private company and federal and state officials deciding an ecosystem’s fate in the dark… People want to know who the leaders are that are responsible–and how they can engage with them.

Given the late date, and with time being so critical I can offer this suggestion. On Wednesday, November 17, at 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. there will be a Technical Committee meeting of something called the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission, or CRASC. AND, on December 1, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., there will be a meeting of the full (CRASC) Commission. CRASC is comprised of the federal/state fisheries leaders from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries, and the state fisheries leaders from VT, MA, NH, and CT. These are top fisheries agency leaders, and CRASC is the Congressionally-authorized agency that has been responsible for managing the Connecticut River and it migratory fish runs since 1967. IT IS A PUBLIC AGENCY, though their meetings are not widely publicized, and the CRASC stopped posting the minutes to their meetings in 2017. In other words, it operates quietly outside the public eye—regardless of its critical public mandate.

The key thing to know here is that the fisheries agencies on the CRASC are literally the same ones who will be sitting down at the secret table with FirstLight on December 2, right after that meeting of CRASC leaders the day before.

So, SINCE LIVING RIVERS FLOW DOWNSTREAM, and NO RIVER SHOULD DIE IN THE DARK, as a journalist and stakeholder I’d like you to know that YOU CAN ATTEND THESE MEETINGS. It is your right. They will be held on-line, but you must pre-register to get the “teams” registration application #, and/or a phone call-in number from Ken Sprankle, the USFWS Connecticut River Coordinator and CRASC Secretary. Ken is very helpful, and this is easy to do.

Simply email Ken at: ken_sprankle@fws.gov and tell him you want to be added to the CRASC public meeting list, and that you want to attend the CRASC meeting on November 17, and also December 1. Ken will get you signed up, and send you an on-line or telephone link, and an agenda. With all the secrecy, at least here you get to see some of the agencies and players who are responsible for our public trust. REST assured, FirstLight’s representatives are always in attendance, keeping an eye on things. That’s why you should think about putting in the time. There will be considerable tech-talk at this November meeting, but here you can get to know the agents and players. AND, there is a time at set aside for the public to ask questions. If you care about a living river, get signed up to attend these on-line public meetings.

BTW, each CT River state on the CRASC has what’s called a “public sector” representative. Here, representing our fisheries protections at Northfield that representative is Dr. Andrew Fisk, who is also director of the Connecticut River Conservancy. So, if you have questions or concerns about fish kills, fish futures and Northfield operations, your CRASC public sector rep can be reached at:afisk@ctriver.org He represents you!