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FirstLight Power AGAIN GREEN-WASHED in Greenfield Public Schools

Posted by on 20 Jun 2022 | Tagged as: Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, Extinction Rebellion, FERC license, FirstLight Power, Greening Greenfield, Massachusetts DEP, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, Nolumbeka, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, public trust, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, The Greenfield Recorder, US Fish & Wildlife Service

FirstLight Power is again being green-washed in the Greenfield Public School system

Extinction Rebellion activists calling for the immediate shutdown of FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, June 1, 2022. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

THE FOLLOWING was a rather unfortunate and transparent attempt to entice truth-tellers away from the facts about sponsoring the deadliness of FirstLight’s grim venture capital cash cow–the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station and its monstrous impacts on the strangled Connecticut River here in Franklin County for the last half century. They were seeking to shunt away any controversy and gloss over FirstLight’s unending carnage–in a corporate-funded, green-washed sponsorship ploy, set to take place in a Greenfield public school. Apparently embarrassed, they sought to co-opt and pull others under FirstLight’s sullied public relations blanket…

“June 2, 2022 June 23rd, Robin Kimmerer

hi Karl and _____,
Last night Greening Greenfield agreed to partner with Nolembeka Project in hosting Robin at Greenfield High School. Discussion included possible protests because the event is being financed by a grant of $50,000 (!) from First Light. So we talked about offering your groups (river flow and preserving forests – is that yours ____ or is it someone else?) the option to have tables at the event in the hall outside the auditorium. If you are interested, get in touch with Diane Dix with Nolumbeka (If i can find her email i’ll forward it).
Sandra Boston”

You might see why I found it’s subtle trickery inappropriate and unworthy of a response. I don’t really know Sandra Boston. We’ve never corresponded. I didn’t reply.

It had arrived on the morning of June 2, 2022, the day after my blog post describing the actions of over half a dozen Extinction Rebellion Activists challenging the unconscionable, deadly, daily extinguishment of the Connecticut River’s life and ecosystem functions by FirstLight’s 50 year old Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, It was also addressed to one other person, and others are mentioned whose names I’ve left off to respect their privacy.

What seems readily apparent is these sponsorships seek to keep the company’s grim ecosystem record and carnage quiet, they don’t want their relationship with the company and it’s death machine revealed while accepting the fruits of it’s poisoned tree.

At center it concerns the “free,” “public” program to be presented at the Greenfield High School this Thursday, June 23rd, sponsored by–and made possible via a big chunka-change (note the $50K!!) from FirstLight Power(now-Delaware tax-sheltered and parent-owned by Canadian global venture capital giant Public Sector Pension Investments), gifted to the Nolumbeka Project, and now–by extension, Greening Greenfield. As someone who has spent two decades writing about Northfield Mountain’s abject river brutality, it was a most unwelcome and insulting ploy. Here is the last piece I wrote on the subject in The Recorder, just a month prior:

https://www.recorder.com/my-turn-Meyer-Don-t-Take-FirstLight-for-Granted-46104531

What also seems quite likely is that the distinguished and celebrated author coming to present at Greenfield High School has little understanding of FirstLight’s grim plans for river-killing and profiteering out of the very soul of the Connecticut River for the coming half century. There was much misdirection apparent here. Any of the leaders of these entities could have reached out to me directly.

A week later–carrying water and working in the shadows for the program’s presenting sponsors, Nolumbeka and Greening Greenfield, there came this follow-up email from Ms.Boston:

“June 7, 2022, Robin Wall Kimmerer June 23

hi _____ and Karl
I told Diane Dix I had contacted you about a table at the event at GHS on the 23rd and she called me today wanting to know if I had heard from you. If you are interested could you please contact Diane at nolumbekaproject@gmail.com and let her know? thanks.and _____, would you mention this to _____ in case the _____ committee would like to have a table at the event? they would be welcome too. Greening Greenfield is going to have a table too.
thanks
sandra
ps let me know if you are not interested by replying to this email and i’ll let diane know.

The Auditorium entrance of Greenfield High School. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

After giving it a bit more thought, I decided I wanted to be clear that I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with this sorry bit of green-washing–particularly at the grim time when the future of a living Connecticut River ecosystem is at stake.

The following, line-by-line, is my reply. I hope they’ve now noted I will ALWAYS stand with the River and its People:

“I do not have a “group,” but find your solicitation rather creepy.

I can’t figure out exactly on who’s behalf you are “green washing”: venture capital giant PSP Investments and FirstLight, or Nolumbeka, or Greening Greenfield?

Anyway, as a journalist, citizen and stakeholder I’m always ready to offer my voice and knowledge on behalf of a living Connecticut River and a life-sustaining ecosystem. But not under the aegis of a sponsor capitalizing on killing them.

FirstLight’s monstrous machine is a continuing assault on both, and being asked to collaborate under their money-tent is particularly insulting.

Conversely, would’ve loved to explain river-crushing pumped storage from the stage!

Hey, perhaps its time to reconsider that creepy sponsorship?

I do hope the author fully understands whose tent she’ll be speaking under…

Karl”

A river without a watchdog:The Connecticut River on Juneteenth/Father’s Day, water-starved and failing in Franklin County for 50 years due to the monstrous suck-and-surge appetite of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. FirstLight’s FERC license to operate Northfield expired on April 30, 2018, yet FERC and the responsible agencies let the killing continue. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer.

FirstLight deserves no honor; and certainly no place in our Public Schools. They have starved the river for profit, and taken their profits to Delaware. Attempts to quash facts and public engagement and protests are not honorable stances in a democratic society. The public has a right to know, but sitting under a FirstLight banner at a Greenfield public school sits in direct opposition to honoring the facts and democratic values.

These are things I believe Robin Kimmerer would agree with. I hope they’ve been honest with her regarding the facts of her sponsored appearance…

CONNECTICUT RIVER CASUAL TRAGIC HISTORY HIKE: Sat., May 14th

Posted by on 06 May 2022 | Tagged as: America's best landscaped sewer, Andrew Fisk, Connecticut River, Connecticut River Day of Mourning, Connecticut River ecosystem, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Federal Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center, federally-endangered Connecticut River shortnose sturgeion, Great Falls, Jesse Leddick, Julie Crocker, Landmark Supreme Court Decision 1872, Mark Tisa, Martin Suuberg, migratory fish, Nation's best landscaped sewer, National Marine Fisheries Service, net-loss power, no license to kill, NOAA, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, public trust, Rock Dam, shad, shortnose sturgeon, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, The Recorder, Turners Falls dam, Turners Falls power canal, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey's Conte Fish Lab, USFWS, Wendi Weber

THE CONNECTICUT RIVER CASUAL TRAGIC HISTORY HIKE:
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m..

The April 2, 2022, Connecticut River Day of Mourning. Photo courtesy of John Bos.

Trip meets 9:30 in the courtyard of the Great Falls Discovery Center and continues onto the Rail Trail. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

I hope some folks are able join this long and casual history walk. * * Please be aware that it will be close to 5 miles–with the return to Great Falls to be done on your own. As noted, a bike or even a 2nd car-pool, relay-car can be left near the walk’s end and return point. Bikes can be locked near Conte Lab–also, relay cars could be parked in the public lot at the end of G-Street, where “Migratory Way” continues along the canal heading the last 1/2 mile to Rock Dam. (I’ll be on my bike.)

The April 2nd Connecticut River Day of Mourning. Photo courtesy of John Bos.

The Connecticut River casual, tragic history hike
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Meet: Great Falls Discovery Center courtyard, Avenue A, Turners Falls
Free. No pre-registration required. * * Rain cancels.

Join journalist Karl Meyer for this 2-1/2 mile (one-way) unnatural history walk, starting at the Great Falls Discovery Center and Turners Falls dam’s failed salmon ladder. This casual hike partly follows the Rail Trail’s 200 year old transportation and power canal. We’ll cross it on a one-way bridge, pass a 1906 generating station; then head to G Street and down “Migratory Way” to unprotected sturgeon habitat at the river’s Rock Dam near the USGS Conte Fish Lab. We end above the failed fish ladder adjacent to Cabot hydro station. NOTE: * * Participants responsible for returning to Great Falls on their own (total: 5-mile round trip). It’s possible to pre-stash a locked bike near Conte Lab along Migratory Way, then cycle back via the Rail Trail.

DEAD American shad at the Rock Dam, May 2021: a public trust migratory fish guaranteed safe passage to VT and NH waters by the US Supreme Court back in 1872. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

*** OH, and here are a few LINKS, the first two comprising defense of an undefended river by citizens; the last three are where foreign vultures are spending the ill-gotten spoils from our massively broken river–far from our Valley ecosystem:

https://www.recorder.com/my-turn-Meyer-Don-t-Take-FirstLight-for-Granted-46104531

https://www.recorder.com/ltr-Ogden-FirstLight-s-Lack-of-Urgency-Threatening-Shortnose-Sturgeon-46144862

https://energycentral.com/news/invenergy-and-energyre-secure-offshore-wind-lease-award-and-announce-formation-investor

https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2022/05/02/hydro-electric-firstlight-allegheny-8-9.html

https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-new-york-pennsylvania-ca11a3273cfb45eeb0e7181075ebe2df

CONNECTICUT RIVER UPDATE: STAY THE COURSE; KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

Posted by on 20 Jan 2022 | Tagged as: Anadromous Fish Conservation Act, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Connecticut River, Connecticut River blog, Connecticut River ecosystem, conservancy, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, critical habitat, E-Comments, ecosystem, EPA, ESA, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal trust fish, FERC, FERC Comments, FERC license, FirstLight, Holyoke Co. v Lyman, Landmark Supreme Court Decision 1872, MA Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts DEP, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, migratory fish, National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, NOAA, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, public trust, right-to-know, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, US Fish & Wildlife Service

A Connecticut River deluge of citizens “no License to kill” defense pours into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

READ THOSE DEFENDERS NAMES in the list below…

STAY THE COURSE; KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

* * Also: On Sunday, January 23 at 10:00 AM, on Occupy the Airwaves, I join Paki Wieland, Bob Gardner and Emikan Sudan, to speak about these critical weeks for the future of the Connecticut River as FirstLight Power tries to nail down secret negotiations to relicense the devastation of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station for another half century: https://www.facebook.com/VFROccupytheAirwaves/ I hope you can listen and TAKE ACTION! * *

Occupy the Airwaves can be heard every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM on Valley Free Radio, WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM, in Northampton, MA. Shows are re-broadcast every Friday at 3:00 PM, and can be streamed at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

HERE IS THE LIST OF THE LATEST CITIZEN HEROES of Connecticut River DEFENSE. NOTE: Update continues further below:

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.

These folks have gone on the record with FERC in recent weeks and months, stating no new license should be issued for the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. They are from up and down the Connecticut Valley, from the Bay State’s border with Connecticut, up to Putney VT. I hope I haven’t skipped any of these people who understand ecosystems and have had the courage to defend ours for those who come along after. Many have also made their defense stronger by posting it in the public press. Thank you all, and stay the course!

These River’s defenders have staved off FirstLight’s secret license-to-kill negotiated plans with US Fish & Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries, MA DEP and MA Fisheries & Wildlife. THEY ARE SUCCEEDING: * NO SECRET AGREEMENT has yet been signed!! *

Don’t get sidetracked: STAY THE COURSE; KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

OF CRITICAL NOTE:

I’ve been forwarded some posts recently. They appear to be some watershed rhetoric claiming to have discovered a last-minute, secret mechanism that can change the trajectory of this federal process at the state-level–AFTER a negotiated deal has been signed by the big-dog players and forwarded to FERC for approval.

That Cinderella idea seems to be just more window dressing from those who’ve failed to engage openly with the public in this 10 year fight. There have been decades–and numerous opportunities for any bona fide watchdog to file lawsuits on any number of flow, critical habitat and wetlands infractions and flagrant ecosystem damage across half a century.

New England’s River has been left on life-support here in Massachusetts—reversed, comatose and massively-deadly at Northfield for the last half century. There have been no lawsuits; there have been no challenges—under the Clean Water Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, Endangered Species Act, the 1872 Supreme Court ruling in Holyoke Company v. Lyman. None stood up as responsible public trust agencies for decade upon decade as the river was left in ruins as the Nation’s best landscaped deadly sewer in the Commonwealth.

We’ve just never had a real watchdog here. If there had been one it would have sued federal and state agencies and taken on a power company long ago. Defenseless for 50 years… YOU DON’T STAND BY WATCHING THE HORSE LEAVE THE BARN!

At this time, in this top-down federal process where big-time forever decisions are being made beyond the public eye, the key place to put the pressure on the agencies charged with protecting our public trust is straight to the top: GOING ON THE RECORD WITH THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION. Every FERC entry these defenders made has also been seen and registered in the licensing files by MA DEP, US Fish & Wildlife, MA Fisheries and Wildlife, and National Marine Fisheries. These folks are getting a constituent earful.

wendi_weber@fws.gov, Director Region 5 US Fish & Wildlife Service; andrew.tittler@sol.doi.gov, lead council at the table for USFWS; melissa_grader@fws.gov, at the table for our migratory fish; julie.crocker@noaa.gov, National Marine Fisheries Service Endangered Fish Recovery Branch Chief (endangered sturgeon); william.mcdavitt@noaa.gov, at the table for our migratory fish; mark.tisa@state.ma.us, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, jesse.leddick@state.ma.us, Chief of Regulatory Review MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Forward them your Letter; then maybe forward it to the MEDIA for broadening the public record!

It is pure fantasy that it will be possible to “save the river” and make key changes to a top-down negotiated federal deal AFTER these key agencies have signed some giant ecosystem compromise with venture capital FirstLight for the next 50 years. It’s pure fantasy, bravado, and soft-pedaling of the critical juncture we are at right NOW.

The only sensible, just and moral position to take with the future of an ecosystem that must be revived to support coming generations is simply: NO LICENSE TO KILL. That’s what’s at stake right now—telling our public agents there can be no deal sanctioning a half century of massive fish kills and river reversals here in Massachusetts, in the heart of the S.O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish & Wildlife Refuge. ONCE it’s signed, there will be little if anything left to re-bargain over. The time is NOW.

There is no sugarcoating what’s at stake RIGHT NOW in secret Connecticut River federal relicensing negotiations occurring behind closed doors between FirstLight and fed/state agencies. It’s no less than the future of a living Connecticut River ecosystem. Critically, what takes place and gets secretly-signed in that backroom closet between FirstLight’s venture capital lawyers, and federal and state environmental trust entities is likely to seal the life-or-death fate of a broken ecosystem here for what ‘s essentially its last chance at revival. There are many examples of terrific testimony and river defense in the other blog posts on this site.

AGAIN, if you haven’t yet submitted testimony–or know of others who want to defend our River’s right to survive as a living system, here’s the FERC formula to share:

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.

This is THE PUBLIC’S RIVER!

The wave of Connecticut River public testimony against Northfield Mountain continues to build

Posted by on 27 Dec 2021 | Tagged as: American shad, Connecticut River ecosystem, Connecticut River Refuge, conservancy, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, FERC Comments, FERC licensing process, FirstLight, Landmark Supreme Court Decision 1872, MA Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts DEP, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, public trust, shad, shad larvae, shortnose sturgeon, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, State of Delaware, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Supreme Court, USFWS

THE WAVE of Connecticut River public FERC testimony against Northfield Mountain continues building…

AMID the time when secret “final” settlement negotiations– initiated by FirstLight, are taking place out of sight with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, MA Fish & Wildlife, MA DEP, National Marine Fisheries, and others, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC are the ones standing up for a living future for the River and this four-state New England ecosystem.

They are not waiting for scripted guidelines from councils and conservancies that have failed to take on this profligate devastation for the last half century. They are going ON-THE-RECORD now–shining a light for the Connecticut River BEFORE any grim compromises get inked.

PLEASE READ DOWN to see the LATEST 8 entries into the public record. Though the “date of entry” is recorded as 12/27/2021, six of these eight testimonies were filed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day(the day after Christmas).

NOW IS THE TIME to enter on-the-record testimony into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s public licensing process.

HERE’S HOW:

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.

THE LASTEST PUBLIC TESTIMONY STARTS HERE:

Document Accession #: 20211227-5019 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Jon Burgess, Northfield, MA.

Northfield pump storage project constructed as direct adjunct to Vernon nuke power plant, to utilize what would be ‘wasted’ energy, as nuke plants can’t shut down easily. Vernon nuke plant is now dead. No more wasted energy to utilize.

The environmental damage done by the hydro storage plant far exceeds any ’emergency backup power’ justification. Their motive is simple & straightforward: Buy low, sell high, make profit.

I enjoy the tidbit benefits (boat ramp….) First Light offers. But it still can’t offset fish death, bank erosion, & other damages.

On a side note, it was a struggle to navigate the maze to get this message to you. I wish there were an easier way for the rest of Northfield to chime in on this issue, as there would be no doubt about the sentiment here. Thank you, JB

Document Accession #: 20211227-5009 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
John Nelson Jr., Plainfield, MA.

Regarding FirstLight Relicensing of the Northfield, MA, Pump Storage Facility:

This facility should not be relicensed; it is not a renewable energy source for peak electricity demand because pumping water uphill generates greenhouse gas. It has been also documented that the biota of the Connecticut River are harmed in the process. If, and despite these concerns, relicensing is to proceed, an environmental impact statement should be required. A solar installation with battery storage on top of the mountain would be a
much more suitable source of energy.
John Nelson

Document Accession #: 20211227-5008 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Vicki Citron, Colrain, MA.

I am a concerned Massachusetts individual who lives near the Connecticut river. I drive over it every day on my way to work. It is appalling to me how low the river is and how high the adjacent canal is. FirstLight drains the river of all possibility of the river being a healthy and supportive environment for the fish and other wildlife that inhabit it.

To add insult to injury, FirstLight’s parent-owner, Canada’s PSP Investments, registered their Nothfield Mountain and Turners Falls hydro units into Delaware tax shelters. In addition to depriving aquatic life of its natural benefits, FirstLight is depriving Massachusetts of its due in tax revenue.

They are literally sucking river and the residents of Massachusetts dry.
Please do the right thing and deny a license renewal to FirstLight.

Thank you.

Document Accession #: 20211227-5007 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Louise P. Doud, Warwick, MA.

The Northfield Mountain Pumping Storage Station has got to go. It does not make sense in this day and age. It needs to be closed forthwith. To expend electricity generated by fossil fuels from the regional electrical grid to pump water uphill just so the electricity generated from dropping tons of water back downhill into the river is made available for peak demand times is wasteful and foolish. Then there is the issue of its deadly effect on the
wildlife in the Connecticut River and erosion of its riverbanks over a span of 23 miles. Over the years of the Pumping Storage Station’s operation, the sucking up of tons of water, fish, aquatic animals and plant life has resulted in killing millions, and then their dead bodies get dumped back into the river. This is devastating to the ecology of the great Connecticut River.

On top of all this, First Light, the relatively new for-profit owner of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, secretly moved its corporate assets for the station and their Turners Falls hydroelectric facility to Delaware – to dodge Massachusetts taxes. There is no excuse for this. FirstLight’s attempts to keep the public from understanding their abandonment of supporting local school and government infrastructures by spreading around donations here and there and garnering publicity from doing so is nothing
short of a betrayal. Whitewashing the truth. Greenwashing its corporate greed.Because, this is all about money. Not about our communities, not about caring for our regional natural environment, not about local charity. You have plenty of reasons to cite First Light’s behavior and the pumped storage station itself as deleterious to the state and the region and violating its agreements with the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife and the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Stop this madness and deny the re-licensing of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station.Now. Please. Do the Right Thing.

Document Accession #: 20211227-5006 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Fergus Marshall, Chicopee, MA.

Dear members of the FERC e comment board,
My name is Fergus Marshall a lifelong resident of Chicopee Massachusetts. I have long enjoyed and respected the immense beauty of the river that my river, the Chicopee, flows into, the Connecticut.

I have been made aware just recently about a little known fact that has me very concerned. For many years I have been known of the project at Northfield Mountain, the pumped storage project which takes water from the river pumps it uphill to a reservoir during offpeak demand for electricity,stores it until there is peak load on the grid, then releases it to generate electricity, thereby creatingprofit an reliability.

This appears to have been successful for many decades but the terrible toll on aquatic life has been enormous. This facility actually causes the river to flow backwards, and in the process sucks the aquatic organisms through pumps and then through turbines killing everything. The Supreme Court ruling of 1872 mandates the safe passage for migratory fish so how is it that this is allowed?

I understand that this has, in the past, been a successful method of energy storage, however now its become an antiquated method that only makes profit for a foreign corporation, First Light of Canada.

This is almost the year 2022, are we not capable of a much better solution. Worldwide, innovators have been putting in place real solutions such as battery storage.

I am very concerned that First Lights profit making schemes are siphoning much needed money that could be used for real energy solutions for the twenty-first century.

Respectfully,
Fergus Marshall
55 Gaylord St
Chicopee Ma
01013

Document Accession #: 20211227-5005 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Norma Roche, Northampton, MA.

I am writing to urge you to consider the health of the Connecticut River ecosystem and fishery before all else as you consider the conditions for relicensing of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. I’ve been reading Karl Meyer’s columns on the state of the river in the Daily Hampshire Gazette with growing alarm, particulary his latest one (12/22/21) about the licensing process, as well the column of 6/2/21 about the operations of the pumping station leaving hatchling sturgeon high and dry.

I have little technical knowledge of fisheries or river regulations, but I would ask, as Mr. Meyer does, why those responsible for negotiationg the conditions of First Light’s license aren’t bound by the 1972 US Supreme Court mandate that all migratory fish have safe passage up and down all rivers. If the pumping station is sucking up and killing shortnose sturgeon (already endangered), shad (whose populations are plummeting), and other fish and aquatic animals, that’s far too high a price to pay for electricity. It sounds like the shad, in particular, have nourished people not only in our region’s past, but right up to this summer. They’re popular with fishermen, and those who catch them eat them. Such a supplemental food source, in these times of economic and and climate uncertainty, isn’tsomething we can afford to lose.

I understand that the pumping station is used for peak power generation. Given the problems associated with that practice, I’m trying to do my part. I have solar panels on my roof, and I’ve signed up with a Shave the Peak program, which alerts me when high power consumption is anticipated so that I can turn off things in my house. I’d much rather do that than contribute to fish kills. Can’t we “shave the peak” on a larger scale and do without the pumping station? Many federal agencies, as well as state governments in our region, are working hard to develop new sources of electricity. None of these will be free of problems, of course. But given that the relicensing period is 50 years, I have trouble imagining that we will need the pumping station for anything like that long.

I’m also an avid whitewater kayaker and member of American Whitewater, and I’ve sent you comments in the past urging you to incorporate water releases into dam relicensing agreements. I sincerely appreciate those releases, as I do the improvements First Light and its predecessors have made to boating access spots and other recreational facilities. But I hope, and believe, that
my comments have always added, as long as it doesn’t hurt the fish.
Of course fish die in the course of many recreational activities such as fishing!but never at the scale at which we’re losing them to the pumping station. My entertainment is certainly not worth these losses.

I hope you will insist that if the pumping station is to continue its operations, it must no longer kill fish. I’m sure that modifications to keep the fish safe could be costly, but it’s not economical to make them,then the station should not be operating.
Thanks very much,

Document Accession #: 20211227-5004 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Seth Wilpan, FLORENCE, MA.

I am writing to urge you to NOT re-license the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project. In the words of Karl Meyer, participating stakeholder and intervener in these Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing proceedings since 2012, this project is “the grimmest electric appliance ever installed on our river. Just like an electric toilet, Northfield squanders massive amounts of grid electricity to literally pull a river backward and uphill” flushing it and all its fish back out, dead, while reselling the secondhand juice as twice-produced watts to distant markets at peak prices.”

The stated goals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service include the
restoration of safe passage of a number of fish species and to protect the river for future generations, which is in response to and in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court mandate. The agency has failed utterly to live up to this mission. At the same time, the Canadian company PSP Investments, which is the parent company of FirstLight which current owns and operates the project, has set itself up to evade local taxes. They are making millions destroying our river.

The only impact of refusing to renew the license will be decreased profits for the companies that run it. Can you in good conscience authorize the continued destruction of this vital and irreplaceable facet of the natural world?

Document Accession #: 20211227-5003 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Robert Sweener, Westhampton, MA.

Regarding the re-licensing of FirstLIght Hydro on the Connecticut River, I unequivocally say NO to this proceeding. Local communities and wildlife will not profit from this project. No amount of mega-profits justify this environmental degradation. We’ve seen enough damage from what they can do.
Thank you,
Bob Sweener
Westhampton Massachusetts

Public rejecting new Connecticut River license bid for Northfield Mtn: 49 years of ecosystem predation and waste is enough.

Posted by on 24 Dec 2021 | Tagged as: Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, E-Comments, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, FirstLight, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts DEP, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, NOAA, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, public trust, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, US Fish & Wildlife Service, USFWS

Public rejecting new Connecticut River license bid for Northfield Mtn: 49 years of ecosystem predation and waste is enough.

Even at the holiday break a belatedly-informed citizenry is going on the record, while secret talks between FirstLight and US Fish & Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, MA Fish & Wildlife and MA DEP loom in a shadowy background. Below are the latest citizen filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. All state that no license should be issued for Northfield Mountain. It is time the devastation ceased.

These were all accepted into the FERC public record on Christmas Eve, people taking a stand for the river that is the lifeblood and soul of this New England ecosystem. SEE BELOW:

(* * NOTE:if you would like to add your voice into the public record concerning the Connecticut River and relicensing, you’ll find simple instructions at the end of this post.)

Document Accession #: 20211227-5000 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Stephen Kerr, Greenfield, MA.

To whom it ma concern, I am looking to voice my disapproval of thee FirstLight power plant’s usage of the Connecticut river. I believe the damage it causes the river ecosystem (and by extension, the local ocean ecosystem which uses the river as a breeding ground) is not worth the electrical power it’s converted into.

I hope that my concern is taken seriously, as it is also representative of many people I know. Please contact me if you’re able to put this concern into action, or if you know of any further action I can take to help make a change in this system.

Thanks and happy holidays,
Stephen

Nancy Obertz, Westhampton, MA.

Please refuse to relicense this company as they are using my river for their gain. Millions of species are dying from the intense pull of their turbines and they do not help the environment. They dodge tax responsibilities (sheltering in Delaware) and hand out pittance amounts to locals in the guise of “good community partners”. STOP this now. We are not going to sacrifice our beautiful Connecticut river for many more decades of their unchecked degradation.

I have grown up on this river (Ox-Bow in Easthampton) and am sickened by what First Light is doing. I have watched the shad and herring disappear. Yet, this company touts all the good they do for the local fish. This is your chance to have a very long-lasting impact. PLEASE refuse to re-license First Light! History will tell our children of your impact here. Please make that impact a positive one.

Thank you!
Nancy Obertz
Westhampton Mass.

Document Accession #: 20211227-5002 Filed Date: 12/27/2021
Dorothy McIver, Greenfield, MA, MA.

I am writing to voice my opposition to the re-licensing of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Facility. It is not needed to generate electricity with all the new advances in technology and it has had a devastating effect on the fish and other aquatic life who are killed when it is in operation. The river needs to be allowed to heal, and continuing this harmful operation for another 50 years is an affront to all of us who want this shut down, and
a benefit only to those who profit from their own greed and lack of concern for this delicate ecosystem and are in denial of the harm they have done for the past 50 years. Please do the right thing and set our river free to flow where it it will with a revitalization of the life it is meant to sustain.
Dorothy McIver

* * HERE’S HOW TO MAKE YOU VOICE HEARD: 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 use Northfield’s FERC project number, P-2485, to enter your comments.

CONSENSUS BUILDS AGAINST RELICENSING NORTHFIELD MTN: YOU CAN STILL BE HEARD!!!

Posted by on 06 Dec 2021 | Tagged as: Andrew Tittler, Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, Connecticut River migratory fisheries restoration, E-Comments, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal trust fish, FERC, FERC Secretary Kimberly D. Bose, FirstLight Power, Greenfield Recorder, Julie Crocker, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts DEP, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, Mr. Jesse Leddick, Mr. Mark S. Tisa, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, PSP Investments, public trust, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Wendi Weber


GREENFIELD MA. November 30, 5:58 am: River protector Dave Dersham of Northampton MA sets out on a 20 mile hike from Greenfield to deliver a “No License to Kill” message to the US Fish & Wildlife Service at their Hadley HQ. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

YOU CAN STILL BE HEARD!!!!!

*BE PART OF THE “SAVE OUR RIVER” HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN: READ BELOW!*

Public demonstrations, public comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and opinion pieces in the media all point to a gelling opposition to any FERC relicensing of FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. The coalescing opinions cite Northfield’s lethal impact on fish, it’s massive river-reversing ecosystem destruction–plus the profit motives of its Canadian venture capital owners. (* *See the 3 new public comment letters posted by FERC today, 12/06/2021, at the end of this message.)

Last Thursday, December 2, FirstLight gathered behind closed doors with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, MA Department of Environmental Protection and American Whitewater in what the Canadian-owned company termed “final” settlement negotiations. There was no daylight for the public to bear witness, and no way to know how far they reached toward a final signing agreement on relicensing this disaster or ending heart-stopping ecosystem flow reversals and inhalation of 100s of millions of fish.


RECEPTION at USFWS HQ, Hadley MA, November 30, 4 pm. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

What’s certain is the big horse-trading was on the table–with our public trust agencies holding our cards in the form of standing up for long-established environmental law and the ecosystem defense that future generations are counting on. Our River, our Refuge, OUR FISH!

Well it ain’t over till it’s over folks! Certainly there are issues not yet fully vetted, emails being exchanged, and last minute changes in the works from the agencies and FirstLight/PSP Investments’ big lawyers.

IN SHORT, nothing has been signed yet!

There remains time to get your comments in to the media, your public trust federal/state agency representatives (emails below), to FERC (address below), and cc’ed to your representatives—all of which are impactful.

HERE IS WHY: in FirstLight’s own words & schedule, filed with FERC November 12, 2021.

“FirstLight MA Hydro LLC submits request for FERC to delay issuance of Ready for Environmental Assessment Notice under P-1889, et al.”

AND, word-for-word, FirstLight’s Timeline to FERC:

“December 2021/January 2022 – parties schedule meeting or meetings of combined groups (fish/flows and recreation/cultural) to discuss overlapping issues. Parties provide status update to the Commission no later than December 31, 2021.

January 2022 – parties work toward achieving a conceptual agreement that can be filed with the Commission on or about January 31, 2022.”


At US Fish & Wildlife HQ, Hadley MA. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

WHICH is to note FirstLight’s sending the settlement outline “to the Commission no later than DECEMBER 31, 2021.”

THUS, if you make your public statement NOW–ahead of when everyone heads home for the holiday break, you can impact this secret, looming train wreck and help make a difference for future generations. Northfield Mountain has been a half century long disaster. You have the information. Short, concise comments—-to the media, cc’ed to your public trust agency officials, and sent as comments to FERC is what matters NOW. There are 3 new public comments shared below.

Directly below are the federal and state department heads and the public trust officials with long-term seats at the negotiating table:

wendi_weber@fws.gov, Director Region 5 US Fish & Wildlife Service; andrew.tittler@sol.doi.gov, lead council at the table for USFWS; melissa_grader@fws.gov, at the table for our migratory fish; julie.crocker@noaa.gov, National Marine Fisheries Service Endangered Fish Recovery Branch Chief (endangered sturgeon); william.mcdavitt@noaa.gov, at the table for our migratory fish; mark.tisa@state.ma.us, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, jesse.leddick@state.ma.us, Chief of Regulatory Review MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.

SEND them your Letter; forward it to the MEDIA for the public record—and…

THEN, file it with FERC for the OFFICIAL LICENSE RECORD.
Here’s the final step: TO FERC:

Go to www.ferc.gov . Go to Documents and Filings, or simply find the “file E-Comment” link if you see it. Once there, make sure you have this official number for Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, and USE IT. “P-2485.” In E-Comment you are filing comments under Hydro, in the Washington DC office, c/o FERC Secretary Kimberly D. Boles–and that FERC Project number, again is P-2485. Write in your comments and then hit send. DONE!

THIS ONE IS NEW TODAY! Followed by the 3 filed over the weekend:

Document Accession #: 20211207-5027 Filed Date: 12/07/2021

Mike Cournyn, Sudbury, MA.
Please reject the application for this license. It is hard to express how wrong this system is on so many levels. It is even harder to try and justify usefulness. More power is USED than is CREATED. The death and disruption of the ecosystem for a few dollars profit. I am amazed it was even allowed inthe first place. Please do the right thing.

Document Accession #: 20211206-5059 Filed Date: 12/06/2021

Malcolm G Everett, NORTHAMPTON, MA.
I am writing to express my deep concern about the impact of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Facility on the ecosystem of the Connecticut River. I believe the damage this system causes to species native to the river justifies the non-renewal of its license to operate. I understand it is viewed as a way to meet peak electricity demand, but I think there are better
ways being developed to solve this problem without causing damage to the life forms in the river. The owner of this facility has no right to cause such damage to the delicate systems of life that have evolved long before the facility existed. Thank you for considering my concern.

Document Accession #: 20211206-5009 Filed Date: 12/06/2021

C Grecsek, SUNDERLAND, MA.
I am writing to express my opposition to the re-licensing of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage facility. The system costs in energy, and especially in ecological damage, are too high.

The Connecticut River flows backward when the pumps are engaged, an unnatural and harmful process. In addition, the turbines kill countless fish and other river dwellers. The generation of electricity should not need to use so much energy to operate nor should it result in such senseless destruction of an ecosystem.

We have made great strides in the improvement of the Connecticut River from when it was essentially an open sewer, but there is more work to do to repair the harm we have caused, including the cessation of this damaging system.

Thank you

Document Accession #: 20211206-5008 Filed Date: 12/06/2021

robert arbib, cummington, MA.
Please reject the application of Firstlight to operate Northfield Mt.for another 50 years.This pumping station causes terrible disruption of the natural flow of the Connecticut River.I know as I canoe on this section of the river. Natural flows necessary for the life cycles of various vertebrates and invertebrates are disrupted, fish and other animals are shredded going up
through the pumps,the flow of the river is reversed during pumping and shallow areas are washed out and eroded as water is released.Firstlight will say they are addressing these concerns but they will promise anything to get a renewal. Please don’t believe their B.S,

Their model is to use massive amounts of power to pump water up. only to profit through ‘generation’ when rates are higher, It is not worth the damage to the river to generate not really new power but only profits for this Canadian company.

Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

WITH PUBLIC KEPT IN DARK, FirstLight schedules secret endgame license negotiations for December 2

Posted by on 14 Nov 2021 | Tagged as: Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, CRASC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal trust fish, FERC, FirstLight, MA Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts DEP, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, public trust, right-to-know, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, USFWS

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!

Connecticut River blog: portage parade a quagmire of mixed motives

Posted by on 15 Jul 2021 | Tagged as: Andrew Fisk, Bellows Falls VT, Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission, Connecticut River Conservancy, Connecticut River ecosystem, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, CRASC, CRC, Dead Reach, Deerfield River, Eversource, FirstLight, FirstLight Power, Landmark Supreme Court Decision 1872, New Hampshire, Northeast Utilities, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, NU/WMECO, portage parade, PSP Investments, public trust, Rock Dam, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, State of Delaware, Turners Falls, United State Supreme Court, Vermont

Connecticut River blog: portage parade a quagmire of mixed motives.

Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer


It was a little four-boat affair at Turners Falls on July 10, 2021. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

On Saturday, July 10, 2021, Dr. Andy Fisk, Chair of the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission (CRASC), stood alongside a lawyer on the banks of the Connecticut River in the Village of Turners Falls in Montague MA. That lawyer was not an employee of the Connecticut River Conservancy, which Fisk also directs (that 69 year old organization has never had a staff lawyer), and this was not a gathering about salmon (the last natural run of salmon occurred on the Connecticut in 1809), or any of the endangered or federal trust fish in this tiny, embattled ecosystem reach they were here to highlight. The Connecticut River Watershed Council (today d.b.a. The Connecticut River Conservancy) had brought along Bob Nasdor of American Whitewater. That recreation organization’s crash-helmet-attired attorney and legal advocate was here as part of a CRC press conference and their touted public “portage parade.”

This, just upstream of the Turners Falls Dam, was an event aimed at getting scheduled flow releases from Canada-own FirstLight, and more water, plus an easy access path past the dam for joy-riding paddlers and rafters seeking a chance to dive into the most impoverished, endangered, historic and biologically sensitive 2-1/2 miles in the entire Connecticut River ecosystem.

As parades go, it hardly made a splash. Ultimately around two dozen people assembled, though fully half were CRC staff, family members, and CRC’s handful of invited speakers. The other speakers included Walter Ramsey, planner and conservation agent for the Town of Montague, as well as representatives of the Appalachian Mountain Club, American Whitewater and All Out Adventures. Three CRC staff were recording the event for further promotion. In reality about a dozen members of the public showed up to the “parade”, plus two journalists.


Revving up the “crowd” at Turners. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

Funny thing–to prioritize commerce and recreation at a site that has been a half century without healing water, one that represents the epitome of historically fragile and endangered habitat. Strange bedfellows, these. Montague’s conservation agent was one more case in point. He noted that the town gets 20% of its tax revenue from Canada-owned, Delaware-registered FirstLight Power, so he wouldn’t want to see more water being returned to the impoverished Connecticut because that would mean less water diverted down the Turners Falls power canal–and less returned tax cash from their Delaware tax-sheltered, FirstLight LLC corporate absentee landlords/neighbors.

On the other hand, Ramsey noted, he is desirous of the economic bump a tourist town gets by drawing-in traffic for water sports. Those big, partying, river-running crowds so often filling the channels and pull-offs on the Deerfield mean big tourist dollars. What could be better?

In that vein though, there was no mixed message or hesitation at all on the part of the paddle-packing Bob Nasdor. He told those assembled that he sees access to this short river stretch that features one single, tiny rapid (incidentally it’s at precisely the shortnose sturgeon’s fragile and crumbling habitat and nursery) as a “tremendous opportunity”–naming the big commercial rafting outfits over on the Deerfield as well as people arriving for “tubing” as parties that have an eager interest in accessing the river here. This despite expert commentary from shortnose sturgeon biologist Dr. Boyd Kynard already in the FERC record stating that watercraft pose a danger to spawning and developing sturgeon here at their Rock Dam habitat.

As a journalist I thought this publicized press event would be a real opportunity to ask about why CRC had taken no action concerning the clearly dissolving Connecticut riverbanks just downstream in the critical and sole documented natural spawning site of the shortnose sturgeon. Its fragile nursery environs are at a tiny place in the river called the Rock Dam. Those failing Connecticut River banks are owned by FirstLight Power, and adjacent to their power canal.

So it seemed a good question to get an answer to with the public present: was it because CRC has no lawyer?–or because they accept money from the MA Department of Environmental Protection?—that they’ve wholly avoided the site and taken no action, never sought an injunction or tested water or intervened as members of the Connecticut River Streambank Erosion Committee?


Here are the dissolving, slumping–sink-hole deepening Connecticut River banks at the Rock Dam site on the day of the “portage parade,” July 10, 2021. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

Ironically, this line of questioning was in nearly the exact same vein as the questions I’d put to Andy Fisk a half decade ago. That was when they decided to hold a discussion in Brattleboro, Vermont about river recreation access–including the all-but-asphyxiated Dead Reach of this Rock Dam river section, where shortnose sturgeon have been annually crippled in successful spawning in their ancient, critical habitat and fragile nursery site for a half century. My questions were not welcome back then either.

This day Director Fisk simply claimed that CRC was taking action. He clearly did not wish to go into any particulars answering in front of the handful of public paraders. He seemed quite rushed, all of a sudden. When I pressed him on several areas of exactly where that action was, and a long timeline where no action whatsoever has been taken, he ended my queries and put the mike down. Unbeknownst to me, a live-feed was being streamed by CRC and it was abruptly shut down when I began my questioning. I heard about this later.

Once the crowd moved away he walked up to reengage–but my questions remained the same, and his responses revealed no on-the-ground action at this critical site. Actually, CRC has filmed and promoted themselves everywhere in this little 2-1/2 mile reach BUT at the dissolving riverbanks and dewatered critical sturgeon habitat on this river. There are videos of a sea lamprey cookout and a swimming hole celebration nearby—plus a big celebration of baby lamprey rescues in the power canal. Now there’s some low hanging fruit protecting a fish that will likely survive Armageddon. But never have they ever brought a parade of people down to that fragile Rock Dam site and filmed them with a backdrop of dissolving Connecticut River banks and baking cobbles where young-of-the-year endangered shortnose sturgeon should be developing.

It’s not hard to find CRC OPINIONS delivered to federal and state entities on a whole host of river issues. They send in all sorts of formal comments. But please, don’t call them a watchdog. Watchdogs inspire fear in companies and public agencies when they break laws or fail to enforce them. They take action. They have hungry, day-to-day staff lawyers–and their missions state clearly: we investigate, we enforce; we go to court–we sue corporations.

CRC gets lots of grant funding from the very agencies they should be forcing to do their jobs. So, don’t look for action there. And, of course, they have an endless legacy going back to their beginnings as close friends and recipients of monies from WMECO/Northeast Utilities, (d.b.a. Eversource) who built the crippling facilities that today dominate this miserable stretch of river. Join the annually major-sponsored Eversource-to-sea clean-up…!

Eversource remains massively—commercially, wired into today’s FirstLight river-crippling facilities at both Northfield and Turners Falls, both parent-owned by PSP Investments of Canada. These facilities trample the key ecosystem functions of New England’s Great River in the heart of the Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish & Wildlife Refuge all the way from Greenfield and Turners Falls MA to Bellows Falls VT and Walpole NH. Both facilities remain in violation of the landmark environmental 1872 decision of the US Supreme Court—based just downstream on this river in Holyoke Company v. Lyman. It ruled that migratory fish must be provided safe upstream and downstream passage on this and all US rivers. Here, that means all the way up to central Vermont and New Hampshire–and back.

Canadian venture capital outfit PSP/FirstLight Power is playing for keeps. They arrived here to run the giant river and energy-sucking, net-power-loss operations at Northfield Mountain and the smaller Turners Falls ops for long-term cash a full 144 years after the Supreme Court made those critical protections the law of this land . But, judging by priorities here, it seems those foreign venture capitalists have come to the right US river system…

This was an extremely small parade.

Living rivers come first.

Be careful what you wish for…

CONNECTICUT RIVER ALERT: FERC deadline looms

Posted by on 24 Jan 2019 | Tagged as: Canada, Connecticut River ecosystem, Connecticut River Refuge, Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon, Conservation Law Foundation, Endangere Species Act, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Recovery Plan, federal trust fish, FERC, FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, FERC licensing process, First Light Hydro Generating Company, FirstLight, Greenfield Community Television, ISO New England, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, Maura Healey, Natalie Blais, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, Paul Mark, Public Comment period, public trust, Rock Dam, shad, Treasury Board of Canada, Turners Falls dam, USFWS, Vermont, Vermont Yankee, Yankee Rowe Nuclear Plant

While federal fisheries stakeholders from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are shut out of the FERC relicensing process by the government shutdown, Canada-owned FirstLight Hydro Generating Company has maneuvered to split its assets on the Connecticut River. This is a slick move, and a punch in the gut to all that have been working in good faith on the understanding throughout–since 2012,that these long-co-run plants were to be covered by a single new license: per the power company’s standing, 5 year-old request.

Copy and paste link directly below to see a half hour on this suspect 12th hour maneuver, filmed for later airing on Greenfield Community Television.

NOTE: FERC has extended the COMMENT, PROTEST, and INTERVENTION deadline for Stakeholder to file Motions with them until February 8, 2019. Go back to www.karlmeyerwriting.com/blog and see second blog post following this on this one on how to submit at FERC.gov on Ecomments.

DON’T SHORT-SELL NEW ENGLAND’S GREAT RIVER

Posted by on 17 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: Alex Haro, American Whitewater, Andrew Fisk, Bob Nasdor, Caleb Slater, Connecticut River ecosystem, Connecticut River migratory fisheries restoration, Connecticut River Watershed Council, CRWC, Dr. Boyd Kynard, ecosystem, Endangered Species Act, ESA, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federally-endangered Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon, federally-endangered shortnose sturgeon, FERC, FERC licensing process, FirstLight, Holyoke Gas & Electric, John Warner, MA Division of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, NOAA, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, PSP Investments, public trust, Relicensing, Sean McDermott, Society of Environmental Journalists, The Nature Conservancy, Turners Falls, Turners Falls dam, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey

(Note: the following piece appeared in The Recorder, www.recorder.com, on March 11, 2017 under the heading: “Who will protect Connecticut River?”)

DON’T SHORT-SELL NEW ENGLAND’S GREAT RIVER

Copyright © 2017 by Karl Meyer

Canadian investors are looking to purchase the Connecticut River for a few decades, cheap and quick. Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board bought up the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station and Turners Falls hydro complex last year as part of PSP Investments. Their New England power play comes in the middle of the 5-year relicensing process for both facilities. That Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process will decide future conditions impacting this four-state ecosystem for decades.

The long-failed Cabot Station Fish Ladder on the Connecticut and competing flows flushing down the Turners Falls Power Canal’s Emergency Spillway. (Note:CLICK, THEN CLICK AGAIN TO ENLARGE.)

Thus, PSP may soon hold sway over what’s long been the most desolate 10-mile stretch of the entire Connecticut. It includes 2.1 miles of riverbed sitting empty for months at a time below Turners Falls Dam. It also includes the reach where, nearly 20 years back, federal fisheries expert Dr. Boyd Kynard found his boat being yanked backward—the Connecticut pulled into reverse by the suction of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station while he was drifting for bass a mile downstream near the French King Bridge. Looked at fully, it encompasses the entire reach where a 50 year federal migratory fisheries restoration program has long foundered.

On March 7th, after four years of meetings, thousands of pages of reports–and with volumes of study information incomplete and disputed, owners of these FirstLight-branded facilities are hoping select interests agree to take licensing talks underground. They’ll be fishing for backroom deals at a Boston area hotel well before this process has had a full public vetting. FL wants to take this little party private, fast. They’re asking invitees to agree to an embargo on public information about settlement talks, positions and decisions.

The key phrase in their invitation reads: “Because this meeting is intended to initiate confidential settlement discussions, it will not be open to the press or general public.” That’s FirstLight’s Director of Massachusetts Hydro Gus Bakas. His selected invitees include the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration(Sean McDermott), US Fish & Wildlife Service(John Warner), US Geological Survey(Alex Haro), MA Fish & Wildlife(Caleb Slater), towns including Erving, Gill, Northfield, Montague, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, The Nature Conservancy(Katie Kennedy), the Connecticut River Watershed Council(Andrew Fisk), and American Whitewater(Bob Nasdor).

That FirstLight stipulation is part of the quick-bait to get stakeholders thinking the time is right to cut deals. Sign-up, shut up; then we’ll talk. Cash out with what you can get for your agency, town, non-profit; or your fun-time rafting interests. Promises from this venture capitalist firm–in what’s become an ownership merry-go-round for these facilities, will surely all come true.

Ironically, many of these invitees descend directly from those who failed to step in and step up for the decimated river here decades back. They’re agencies and so-called watchdogs who failed to enforce laws and conditions negotiated when they were signatories to settlement talks for NMPS and Turners Falls nearly 40 years back–and for the 1999 FERC license negotiated for Holyoke Dam as well. At that site, Holyoke Gas & Electric just finally completed required improvements for endangered shortnose sturgeon last spring. Their license had mandated they be completed in 2008. Eight years, nine–no suits, no injunctions; no action.

Maybe that’s because the Watershed Council’s board chair works for HG & E, or because a significant number of board members are retirees from the region’s legacy power companies. Or, might it be because CRWC receives grant monies from National Marine Fisheries, US Fish & Wildlife, and MA Division of Fisheries, that these agencies were never taken to court for the withering spawning conditions and crippling flows experienced by federal trust American shad and federally endangered sturgeon in the reaches from Turners Falls to Northfield?

So who can our river look to for environmental protections under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act in the future?

Fourteen months remain in this relicensing. Key reports won’t be available until April, while other critical study information won’t be out until July. Some studies may need repeating. The best future for New England’s River will not be well served by quick-and-dirty agreements made in the shadows. Remember, Dear Stakeholders, it’s your names that will be forever associated with the conditions on a future Connecticut River—the river your grandchildren will be relying on. This is no time to sell the Connecticut short. What’s your price for a river’s soul?

Karl Meyer of Greenfield is on the Fish and Aquatics Study Team in the FERC relicensing for the Northfield Mountain and Turners Falls hydro facilities. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

(Note: Bob Nasdor is former director of the Massachusetts Commission on Open Government.)

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