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Environmental Organization Criticizes NE Governors, Makes Public Records Requests

March 25, 2014

The Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston-based environmental group, contends that New England governors have carried out energy policy privately. The organization has put forth public records requests in the hopes that such documents will help do away with the so-called tight-lipped dealings and provide more transparency (which, in the CLF’s mind, would result in more environmentally friendly projects and lower costs) for energy policy in the six states.

Some assert that openness has been more prevalent since the New England governors all signed a December 5, 2013 statement pledging to construct hundreds of miles of new transmission lines and pipelines to help lower electricity and natural gas prices. The idea behind the statement is that ISO-NE, the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), and the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) could help governors to collectively create a long-term solution to ensure that enough supply of natural gas for power generation and enough new transmission to import electricity to areas of high demand. Supporters of the governors also note that the governors did publish a request to ISO-NE for assistance in a region that is overly dependent on natural gas and one that experienced a steep increase in electric and natural gas prices this past winter. The surge in prices this winter is certainly reason to improve efficiency and lower costs where available.

The region’s overreliance of natural gas is a point of criticism for the governors. While natural gas is less expensive than heating oil, but environmentalists, including the CLF, have criticized the method of extracting it, fracking. The group thinks the governors’ behavior implies they assume a new pipeline is necessary and must be paid for by customers. The CLF disagrees with this supposed assumption and at the very least wants it tested in public.