NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator

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Connecticut River secret licensing talks: CITIZENS GOING ON THE RECORD FOR A RAVAGED ECOSYSTEM’S FUTURE

Posted by on 13 Dec 2021 | Tagged as: Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, E-Comments, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, FERC licensing process, FirstLight, FirstLight Power, Greenfield Recorder, Julie Crocker, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts DEP, Mr. Jesse Leddick, Mr. Mark S. Tisa, National Marine Fisheries Service, net-loss power, NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, Relicensing, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Steven Mattocks, US Fish & Wildlife Service, USFWS, Wendi Weber

CONNECTICUT RIVER FINAL SECRET RELICENSING MEETINGS:CITIZENS GOING ON THE RECORD FOR A RAVAGED ECOSYSTEM’S FUTURE

Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

As the closed-door “final” bargaining between FirstLight and government agencies continues this month, more people are going on the record against a new half century of massive annual fish kills, gluttonous power consumption, and rampant ecosystem disruption at the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. Read further below for new citizen FERC filings and Letters to the Editor highlighting their opposition to issuing a new license for this deadly cash cow.

MA Fish & Wildlife:

HAPPY to manufacture hatchery fish; WRETCHED at protecting the Connecticut River’s ancient migratory fish runs. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

THERE IS STILL TIME TO GO ON THE RECORD with others who are standing up for a living river!!!

Do you have children, or grandchildren? Or maybe you just understand that licensing a foreign-owned venture capital firm to have virtual control over 23 miles of the Connecticut River for the next 50 years closes off any hint of a participatory democracy for the future generations that will rely on this ecosystem to sustain them. They are looking to us for protection…

The secret dealings with our participating public trust agencies including MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the MA Department of Environmental Protection are yet to be signed or sanctioned. The agencies will be passing proposals and juicy cash baits incentives back and forth through the end of the month… What’s your price for an ecosystem?

Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

Sending message to FERC, and the media, and your public representatives and agency leaders is the participatory democracy antidote to all the darkness. It takes just a few paragraphs and sends the critical message to leaders: you don’t get to sell off our River’s future. Stand up, stand out, and be heard. HERE’S HOW:

Simply write your remarks in a short document, and include the key FERC project number for Northfield Mountain: P-2485. You can send that letter to your representatives, agency leaders, the media—and lastly, importantly, to FERC to be entered into the public record. 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 go to eComment on the page that opens. Follow the directions for Hydroelectric License/Re-license Proceedings (P – Project Number), use P-2485, and you are part of the public record.

Below are two recent on-the-record entries, to FERC, and the Greenfield Recorder.

Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

Document Accession #: 20211213-5000 Filed Date: 12/13/2021

David B. Keith, Deerfield, MA.
Our local newspaper, The Greenfield Recorder, reported (12/8/21) that a company had agreed to a $1.5 million settlement for a chemical spill leading to the deaths of more than 270,000 fish in a tributary to the Deerfield River, itself a tributary to the Connecticut River.

I am encouraged to see a value put on the fish in the tributary. I cannot, however, understand why one company is (quite rightly) being punished for killing fish in a tributary while another, FirstLight Utilities through its Northfield Mountain Pumped Hydro Storage facility, stands to be very handsomely rewarded for knowingly and persistently grinding up countless fish, including rare species, from the much larger Connecticut River. Please do not grant FirstLight Hydro Generating Company a fifty-year license to deprive us daily of a resource that was just valued at $1.5 million per incident.

And this:

I strongly urge rejection of the application by FirstLight MA Hydro LLC to operate Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The pumping station causes an untold number of deaths to aquatic life in the river and extreme disruption of the the river’s natural flow. The natural flows necessary for the life cycles of vertebrates and invertebrates are utterly disrupted, fish and other life forms are shredded going up through the pumps, the flow of the river is reversed during pumping and shallow areas and banks are washed out and eroded as water is later released. No realistic way of preventing this death and disruption exists, even if FirstLight intended to attempt such safeguards.

Firstlight has proven to be a bad neighbor with regard to these abuses and has a record for making false statements with regard to their operation. Furthermore, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage uses more energy than it creates with its turbines, something that makes no sense in this time of Climate Crisis when energy must be both conserved and non harmful. FirstLight’s license for further operation must be rejected.

Don Ogden
The Envirom Show
WXOJ/WMCB/WMNB
140 Pine Street
Florence, MA 01062

NOAA has once-in-a-lifetime Recovery Plan opportunity for sturgeon

Posted by on 17 Jan 2017 | Tagged as: Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon, Dr. Boyd Kynard, endangerd shortnose sturgeon, ESA, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federally-endangered Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon, Jack Buckley, MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Mr. John Bullard, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator, Regional Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Rock Dam, US Fish & Wildlife Service, USFWS, Wendi Weber

KM-Rock Dam program 4-23-16
(Above:crowd attending shortnose sturgeon program at the Rock Dam spawning site, April 2016. Presenters were Dr. Boyd Kynard and me. CLICK and click again to ENLARGE.)

Below is a letter to Regional NOAA Fisheries Director John Bullard requesting immediate action to gather small funds to take advantage of a unique Recovery Plan Step that has literally been waiting in the wings for 167 years. Small Recovery Plan funds are needed to monitor newly-returning endangered shortnose sturgeon as they regain upstream access to their natural spawning reach in the Connecticut River for the FIRST TIME SINCE 1849! Recovery Plan opportunities and low-cost, critical federal science in the public interest come around but once in a Blue Moon.

Please feel free to copy the text of this letter, paste in your own information noting your concerns, and forward to Mr. Bullard and the two other fisheries directors cc’d here. Help these newly-arriving federally endangered Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon successfully SPAWN on their ancient home grounds for the first time in over a century and a half!

Karl Meyer
Greenfield, MA
413-773-0006

Mr. John K. Bullard, NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator January 16, 2017
Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office
55 Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930
john.bullard@noaa.gov

Dear Mr. Bullard,

I’m one of many New Englanders anxious to see the Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon begin its long-belated recovery here by finally having a chance to regain its documented natural spawning habitat in Turners Falls–and experiencing conditions where it can successfully reproduce. Nine years late license agreements at Holyoke Dam have finally been met allowing SNS to pass upstream in significant numbers. This is literally the first progress made in this species’ name here since it was placed on the original federal Endangered Species List in 1967. And this is the first time since 1849 that these fish will have a real chance at increasing their genetic diversity, as well as their numbers. This is their chance at recovery.

It’s come to my attention that a unique opportunity exists to track SNS in the By Pass Reach of the Connecticut River in Turners Falls this spring. The USGS Conte Lab has proposed a straightforward, acceptable, and verifiable study plan. Apparently all that is needed for this simple study to go forward is $20,000. This is an extremely modest expenditure for your agency. This unique opportunity to collect information in the first season in 167 years that SNS have been able to return upstream to this site will never come around again. This study will document whether these fish are successfully arriving and accessing their chosen age-old spawning habitats. Critical, baseline information.

NOAA’s own banner states it provides science based conservation and management for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, marine mammals, endangered species, and their habitats. There is no better belated-opportunity to fulfill that mandate vis-à-vis the Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon than to provide the small funding this study requires. Members of your endangered species team are aware of this, and have expressed enthusiasm for this study to go forward. Further, your fisheries colleagues from other federal and state agencies share a common mandate and concern for the SNS’s protection and recovery. This modest study will help to further that end, particularly given that in just 15 months a new federal license will be signed with the new Canadian owners of these hydro installation and facilities whose operation will directly impact the recovery and spawning success of SNS.

This time-sensitive request for small funding can demonstrate due diligence by NOAA in its migratory fisheries and habitat protections mandate here. Please make us proud of NOAA’s shortnose sturgeon Recovery Plan efforts and make these funds available immediately so that this key spring work can go forward. Your colleagues, state and regional directors at USFWS and MA Division of Fish & Wildlife may be able contribute as well as both Ms. Weber and Mr. Buckley have hands-on experience with endangered SNS research. They are being cc’d here. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Karl Meyer
Cc: Wendi_Weber@fws.gov; jack.buckley@state.ma.us

(BELOW: the Rock Dam and its adjacent pool to the left–the sole documented natural spawning site for shortnose sturgeon on the Connecticut River. USGS Conte Fish Lab is a few hundred yards southeast of this site. CLICK to enlarge; then click again.)
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