It’s like an old joke: HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU SELL A DEAD RIVER? In the case of the Connecticut River and the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project the answer is: Twice a Day for Fifty Years!

And the new answer to that old joke–if our federal and state leaders fail to step up again for this ecosystem: TWICE A DAY FOR 100 YEARS AND COUNTING!

Participants in a 2016 program at the fragile Rock Dam spawning habitat of the shortnose sturgeon that I did with Boyd Kynard.

Please, if you missed it in the Daily Hampshire Gazette or The Recorder, read BELOW the terrific op ed by Will Ryan, a UMass graduate and Northfield Mountain investigator, along with his colleagues. Will attended one of my river programs at the fragile Rock Dam spawning habitat of the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon. It sunk in–what a failed and unprotected ecosystem exists in Massachusetts, and that there really has never been a watchdog here to force the corporations or the agencies to comply with established law. It’s seen as merely a cash cow, run amok.

https://www.masslive.com/opinion/2022/03/firstlight-is-greenwashing-effects-on-health-of-connecticut-river-viewpoint.html

Joyriders descend on the fragile Rock Dam habitat, an ancient, starved and embattled place that many of us consider sacrosanct for its biological and cultural significance.

In a time when the very fabric of the Earth is rapidly fraying, it would be criminal of public officials to turn their back on the chance to revive the key living artery of our ecosystem. The US Fish & Wildlife Service, MA Dept. of Environmental Protection, MA Fisheries & Wildlife and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries must step up now. The ugly scale of this antiquated scheme is to relicense the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station to literally continue sucking away the life of the river for the next half century–re-marketing its deadened flow as twice-produced, net-loss megawatts to places as far away as New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

Right now leaders of those agencies are getting a second chance to do what’s morally and ethically required to assure there’s a Connecticut River legacy to pass on to future generations. Will they stand up, or will they bow to a short-sighted, long-term corporate cash scheme that trades an ecosystem for a net-loss, mega-scale power export configuration?

Predecessors of those four agencies failed disastrously 50 years ago by agreeing to allow that uninvestigated, brutal and lethally-disruptive machine to be installed on the Connecticut River. Today, that deadly contraption is being cleverly rebranded as clean, renewable and Earth-friendly–pedaled as the single best idea to accomplish energy storage for future generations here. In fact, its brutality has been unparalleled in this river’s natural history.

River-killing pumped storage is a 20th century crime, put forward in place of any number of energy storage and delivery configurations that should already be in place by 2022. It’s as if the only way to keep the lights on is to kill the very thing that has literally fed and sustained life in this Valley for millennia.

If you are lucky, you literally get one second-chance a century to conserve, protect and enforce the environmental protections left endlessly unattended on New England’s Great River. Like so many people in the Connecticut River Valley, I would never be the person who would turn their back on restoring this region’s critical ecosystem artery after a half century. That wholesale slaughter has come entirely at the hands of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project.

The Connecticut is a river without a bona fide protector, one with not even an NGO who can say they employ a single staff lawyer after 70 years of watershed council/conservancy window dressing. That’s what has left this ecosystem in tatters for generations. The corporations and the environmental agencies have never had a single thing to fear as the half century disaster rolled along….

Right now, the Connecticut River’s survival as this ecosystem’s most vital organ rests in their hands. It’s way past time our public trust agency leaders actually walked the talk. It’s time for them to stand up for the River’s life, and for those who come later. Here are their names. Use them, publicly. No river should die in the dark. They are being mentioned in Letters to the Editor, and No License to Kill filings with FERC:
Wendi Weber, Director Region 5 US Fish & Wildlife Service, wendi_weber@fws.gov; Martin Suuberg, Commissioner of MA Dept. of Environmental Protection; Mark Tisa, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, mark.tisa@state.ma.us; Julie Crocker, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries ecosystems and energy branch chief, julie.crocker@noaa.gov,

And, finally, and once more–time is short in this relicensing process. FirstLight is again making claims they will have the fed/state agencies bought and sold in their secret, backroom license negotiations by March 15th. However unlikely, it is still time to keep up the pressure NOW! If you haven’t, or know someone who can, get them to take public action with FERC and the leaders noted above.

Again, here’s the NO License to Kill filing process for FERC–please share it, get someone to write, write a new letter yourself, NOW!

Go to: www.ferc.gov; then to “Documents and Filings”; then click on the “Quick Links” tab for FERC Online on the right; and then to “eComment” on the page that opens. Follow directions for “Hydroelectric License/Re-license Proceedings (P – Project Number),” and BE SURE TO use Northfield’s FERC project number, P-2485, to enter your comments.

And thanks to all, or almost all–because this is hardly a complete list of those who have written FERC or op eds, or letters, or shown up on bridges and made signs. We’re still in the game! Think, if you can, of doing something NOW, a letter, asking a friend. Something that pushes this River’s life out of the backroom shadows and into the light. There is only NOW! RIGHT NOW!

Joseph W Stubblefield, Sanjay Arwade, Jonathan S Shefftz, Jamie Rowen, Michael Giles, William H. Pete, Nicholas Reich, James Lowenthal, Katharine Sims, William Daniels, Paige Wilder, Karl Meyer, Shayla G Freeland, Mary J Metzger, Robert Arbib, C Grecsek, Malcolm G Everett, Mike Cournyn, Robert Catlin, Don Ogden, William N. Ryan, Elizabeth Whitcomb, Judith Nietsche, Celt Grant, Susan Olmsted, David B. Keith, Glen Ayers, Virginia Hastings, Annie Chappell, James Seretta, Ron Barto, Robert Dickerman, Pamela Scott, Tanya Dragan, Lin Respess, Rebecca Tippens, Sigurd Nilsen, Peggy Matthews-Nilsen, Amy Rose, Steven Wilkinson, Stephen Kerr, Nancy Obertz, Dorothy McIver, Robert Sweener, Seth Wilpan, Norma Roche, Fergus Marshall, Louise P. Doud, Vicki Citron, John Nelson Jr., Jon Burgess, Robert F Porzio, Garrett D Connelly, Dave Dersham, Betsy Corner, Graham Hayward, Sid Siff, Paul Richmond, Betsy Browning, Rebecca Robbins, James Smethurst, Laura Doughty, Mary Hall, Laura Kaye, Frank Ribeiro, Andrew Hutchison, Mark Russo, Judith Phillips, Priscilla Lynch, Molly Freeland, John Hoffman, Roberta Murphy, Dodi Melnicoff, Ethel S. White.