John Harrigan: Volunteer rescuers, inside and out, and a pass on the Northern Pass

JOHN HARRIGAN September 28. 2013 1:47AM

ATTENTION alert readers: I've adopted a new e-mail address ( As always, it'll be at the end of everything I write, including this column and North Country Notebook, an entirely different piece I write for the dozen or so weekly papers in the Meredith-based Salmon Press group.

I continue to get letters without the basics - address and telephone number and town. This lack of information makes it difficult for me to get back to readers. I have no time for sleuthing. I have a whole bunch of letters on hand that might serve as topics for this column, but they are useless without basic contact information. As always, I'll never publish contact information without the sender's permission.

And please, how about a salutation, such as "Hello John," or even "Hey Harrigan, you moron"? I get a ton of mail and have long vowed to do my best to answer each and every letter, but I'm often tempted to toss a letter lacking the basic niceties straight into the wastebasket.

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Hearings on the Northern Pass proposal drew jam-packed crowds in Concord, Plymouth, Whitefield and Colebrook.

Evidently people all over the state, especially down bellow the notches, are waking up to the dire implications of this project, and the fact that New Hampshire does not need the power (we export around 75 percent as much electricity as we use), we don't want the power line, and we won't get the power, which will mainly benefit the Hartford-New York City markets. We are nothing but a doormat.

Hydro-Quebec's investors are getting impatient and it is desperate to reach heavily populated markets to the south to sell its power on the cheap. New Hampshire will get rapidly diminishing property taxes (see "depreciation") and flash-in-the-pan jobs. We'll mostly get the low-paying jobs - waving flags, folding bed sheets, flipping burgers.

The highest-paying jobs will go to workers from all over the country who are expert at building gigantic power lines, just as happened with the pipeline and wind-tower projects. This only makes sense, but why can't people see it?

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How to bury the power line? The utilities pushing Northern Pass have claimed all along that it would be too expensive to bury it, even as similar major projects in Maine and New York are doing just that.

Several speakers at the Colebrook hearing said they really don't care whether the power line is overhead or buried - a scar on the landscape is still a scar - and not for any demonstrable public need but for corporate greed. They just want the boosters and hustlers to fold up their tents and go home.

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None of the speakers said anything about Northern Pass claims of its hydro energy being "clean and green," so I'll say it (again) here.

Let's see, basic high school biology 101. Trees sequester carbon and give off oxygen. Hydro-Quebec has flooded hundreds of thousands of acres in the far north, drowning billions of standing trees and other vegetation, which are now decomposing and emitting carbon, not to mention mercury.

"Clean and green?" Find Northern Pass a clown-suit for claiming this with a straight face, and if we buy it - hayseed hicks with straw sticking out of our ears and all - hand us a dunce cap.

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A recent Union Leader editorial rightly commended trained rescuers and citizen volunteers who are always at the ready to spring forth when an incredibly taxing mountain rescue is needed, often under the most severe conditions. The editorial mentioned several stellar examples of this professional-citizen symbiotic relationship, to me the epitome of the New Hampshire way.

This was manifested during the Colebrook hearing on Northern Pass when a woman in the audience with an unknown, but apparent medical condition fell to the floor.

People seated nearby immediately rushed to her aid, while emergency and medical personnel, many of whom were in the crowd, helped stabilize her for transport to Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital.

It was an undertaking that was accomplished, by my rough measurement, in under 20 minutes.

The crowd, the speakers and the U.S. Department of Energy officials at the head table gave the woman a standing ovation - meant equally for those who rushed to help - as EMT personnel wheeled her out to the ambulance.

John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook, NH 03576, or

John Harrigan

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