My Turn: A climate emergency and government failure 

  • mactrunk mactrunk

Published: 8/4/2022 4:59:00 PM

We are in a climate emergency compounded by ongoing and increasing governmental failure. There are no other words to use other than emergency and failure. Every day we hear and see more and more how dire the climate situation is. Every day we hear and see more and more how our governments are failing the planet and people.

FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station is a fossil fuel operation. It burns natural gas in order to force the Connecticut River backward for five miles or more, suctioning the water up the mountain for later release at peak prices. This requires one third more energy (gas) than is generated, however holding the water until peak need allows the company to profit from its release. In addition, 20 miles of the river are impacted by the river suction, killing hundreds of millions of young fish, eggs and larvae in river sucking turbines. This has been going on for more than 50 years. It is a travesty that the ecosystem of the great Connecticut River is allowed to suffer, while using fossil fuel to create profit for a private entity. This is totally nonsensical and absurd. It is a false solution and in fact contributes to the climate emergency. We are killing a river in order to kill ourselves.

FirstLight, a Canadian venture capital investment giant, purchased the Northfield Mountain facility in 2016 at a price far below what the previous operator paid in that same decade. Within months of the expiration of its license in 2018, FirstLight reregistered the facility into a limited liability tax shelter in Delaware. In 2019 FirstLight reported $158 million in sales in Northfield alone and paid only $100,000 in state taxes. FirstLight’s profit motivations over their responsibilities to the ecological health of the river and the best interests of the people are disgusting and unacceptable.

Our state and federal governments are complicit in FirstLight’s actions. Their support for the relicensing of Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station is contrary to the needs of the planet and its people. They are not acting in the best interests of the river and betray the public trust. There is nothing in the operation of Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station that benefits the people, the environment or the climate. It is all misuse for private profit.

These emergencies and failures are why activists breached the fence onto the intake area of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station on June 1, 2022. We all should be standing steadfast in defense of the Connecticut River Ecosystem and opposed to FirstLight’s license to operate the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. We all should be calling out the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife (Mark Tisa, director), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (Wendi Weber, regional director), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Martin Suuberg, commissioner) and the NOAA Fisheries’ National Marine Fisheries Service (Michael Pentony, director) for their ongoing support of the station and their recent agreement for relicensure.

A more just, productive and healing use of Northfield Mountain would be for FirstLight to return the land to Indigenous peoples. Indigenous stewardship of the land rooted in reciprocity and mutuality would certainly assure a much healthier and safer environment for all. It would free the mountain and river from the extractive exploitation they are now hostage to and remove them from the grips of the governmental agencies who refuse to protect them.

On behalf of the June 1, 2022 Extinction Rebellion activists, the planet and all its living things,

We demand: immediate shutdown of FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station; restoration of the Connecticut River; our public servants be just that and remove themselves from their entaglement with FirstLight; our land back.

Trish Gallagher, Dorchester

Ellen Graves, W. Springfield

Patricia Greene, Greenfield

Laura Kaye, Northfield

Priscilla Lynch, Conway

Fergus Marshall, Chicopee

Don Ogden, Florence

Laura Simon, Wilder, Vermont

Terisa Turner, Lake Pleasant

Paki Wieland, Greenfield

Cate Woolner, Northfield


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