Fighting a multi-million dollar corporation, the cards are mostly stacked in their favor and it’s a lot of work separating fact from fiction. There may or may not be untruths involved, but there’s certainly a lot of clouding of issues, strategic framing of reality, and a reliance on the fact that most people don’t have the time nor inclination to understand the ins and outs of the utility siting process. Certain questions from the Protect Sudbury community reappear on a regular basis, so here’s some sorting fact from fiction. Please share widely with your Sudbury friends and neighbors so we all know what’s what with regards to the Eversource project. And come to the Board of Selectman’s community meeting with Eversource on October 26th at the high school.
Myth: The Town Can Vote Down the Project
There’s no vote
This is not akin to a developer applying for planning permission to the Town. Eversource proposes to build its transmission lines on land owned by the MBTA. Although the MBTA corridor runs right up to people’s properties and through some of our most beautiful conservation land, it’s not ours to manage. If we and the Town don’t work to stop Eversource, the project will most likely go forward.
Myth: They Can’t Do This, Can They?
Yes, they can
The Energy Facilities Siting Board has power under its enabling statute to override any permitting process or conditions if they unduly interfere with a public energy project. There are ways to fight this, but if we do nothing, they absolutely can do it. That’s why Protect Sudbury has hired one of the best law firms with experience in utility ligation, Burns and Levinson. But without challenging the premise of the project, yes, the utility can do it. That’s why it’s so vital that we stay in this fight and challenge everything all the way.
Myth: The Town’s Lawyer Should Be Enough
But it isn’t
The reality is that our best chance at stopping Eversource includes both our grass roots group of private citizens, funding our own independent lawyer and the Town of Sudbury’s official opposition. The town’s lawyer works closely with Protect Sudbury’s legal counsel, sharing information and coordinating legal strategy. Having both efforts has been more effective in leveraging every possible angle to oppose the project. Protect Sudbury and the Town of Sudbury act as separate intervenors in the siting board process so we can represent a broader range of interests. In addition, in pursuing every avenue of investigation and influence, some are more conducive to a private group and some to a municipality, so the efforts are cooperative and complimentary.
Myth: I Live In North Sudbury, This Doesn’t Affect Me
It does. And here’s why
This project will fundamentally change the look and feel of the town, industrializing our business district and neighborhoods. This affects everyone in town as the associated drop in property values degrades the tax base as a whole. If the project goes ahead as planned, we’ll see a downturn in services and school budgets, making Sudbury less desirable as a community and further degrading house values, townwide.
And you might want to think about your drinking water. Eversource’s vegetation management plan includes regular spraying of herbicides that include glyphosate, classified by the WHO’s cancer agency as a probable carcinogen. Some of this spraying is uncomfortably close to our gravel pack wells, which has alarmed the Superintendent of our water district. Our water system is ultimately all pumped into tanks that intermingle, there’s no “us and them” with regards to whose well it is. If you live in Sudbury, it’s all the same water.
Myth: Won’t We Get A Bike Path?
Nope. Listen up to the video below
It’s the voice of Bev Schultz, Eversource’s Sudbury – Hudson Transmission Line Project Manager speaking at the Stow Board of Selectmen meeting in February 2016. It confirms what we know – Eversource is completely disingenuous when it comes to the bike path issue. They are building an access road for their very large construction and maintenance vehicles. If there’s ever going to be any sort of recreation in the area (which there already is, without any power lines, thank you very much), once Eversource comes in, it will be in the presence of 115kv of high voltage lines either overhead or underground. Let’s not let Eversource bamboozle us with false promises – because they’re not promising it and it’s not a bike path.
Here’s the transcript, just in case you can’t believe your ears:
We are not proposing a bike path. We’re proposing an access road that can be utilized. I would like to point out that, I was mentioning that there are some existing bridges. We do not plan to make use of those bridges. We don’t really know the condition of those bridges nor their ability to support our very large construction and maintenance vehicles. So we will come from either direction from roads when we need to get to any part of the right of way. There are a number of roads that cross over the right of way.