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CT River Delegation posts final FERC comments

Massachusetts Senators and Representatives who represent cities and towns along the Connecticut River and its tributaries have posted their comments to the FERC on May 1, 2024.  This is an excellent summary of outstanding issues with the FERC license, requesting balancing the needs of the communities and the river.

Documents to & from MassDEP

The State Process for Water Quality Certificate (WQC) or “401”:

FirstLight’s application for Water Quality Certification was accepted as “administratively complete” on 04/22/24.  MassDEP has until 04/22/25 to issue or deny a WQC.  The MassDEP’s website will be the best place to follow this process, including seeing when there are opportunities for public comment, now, on the application, and later on a draft WQC.

Get on MassDEP’s email list to be notified of hearing dates and changes to the website.

Application for 401 Water Quality Certification (04/22/24)  [This 226 page document is the application itself that we all may comment on for 35 days.]

ORGANIZATIONS, ABBREVIATIONS, INITIALIZATIONS & LINKS

CAPV: Community Action Pioneer Valley
CHAMP: Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Programs (but best to start with HRA)
CHAPA: Citizens Housing and Planning Association
CHIP: Community Health Improvement Plan Network – a program of FRCOG
CNI: Complete Neighborhoods Initiative – a program of MHP
COC: Continuum of Care, Three County – a program of CAPV
Community Builders, The
Community Legal Aid: anti-housing-discrimination, eviction services and more
CSO: Clinical & Support Options
DHCD: MA Department of Housing and Community Development (but best to start with HRA)
FCCLT: Franklin County Community Land Trust
FCCPR: Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution
Franklin County Regional Housing Authority – see HRA
FRCOG: Franklin County Regional Council of Governments
GG: Greening Greenfield – convenor of Housing Greenfield, and more
Green Fields Market: Franklin Community Co-op
Greenfield Community and Economic Development
Greenfield Housing Authority
HomeShare – a program of Lifepath
HRA: Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority
IH2: Improving Housing to Improve Health – a program of FRCOG & others
Interfaith Council of Franklin County Massachusetts Housing Assistance
LifePath
 runs Homeshare Program
Mass Fair Housing provides free legal advice to those who have experienced housing discrimination
MHC: Massachusetts Housing Coalition
MHP: Massachusetts Housing Partnership
Opioid Task Force and its Housing and Workforce Development Committee
RAFT: Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (but best to start with HRA)
RDI: Rural Development, Inc.
Regional Housing Authority – see HRA
Small Town Housing Workgroup an IH2 project
Three County COC – see COC
TOPA: Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act

Life Sustains the Planet

A beautiful documentary film offering fascinating insights into the role of water and plants in nurturing and
balancing our climate and life on earth.  Learn new pathways to restore biodiversity and our climate.

Working with Nature to Restore our Climate is the theme of Greening Greenfield’s spring series of free in-person events. The second event, Life Sustains the Planet, will be held Monday, April 1, 6:30-8pm, at the Second Congregational Church on Court Square in Greenfield.

“In this series, we will look into some novel ways of thinking that can help restore biodiversity and mitigate climate change,” says Dorothea Sotiros, avid gardener and Greening Greenfield member.

“I am particularly interested in the powerful role that water, plants and soil play in building climate resilience at home and beyond.”

The April 1st event follows Water Cools the Planet, the first part of Regenerating Life, a beautiful documentary. This film offers fascinating insights into the role of water and plants, especially trees, in nurturing and balancing our climate.

John Feldman, writer, editor, and narrator shares his quest for a deeper understanding of what regulates the temperature of our planet, beyond carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.  He introduces us to scientists who are exploring many aspects of our Earth who share their insights.

The final event of the series will be held on Earth Day, April 22. Rachel Lindsay, Ecologist, Gardener and Lead Designer at Regenerative Design Group, will introduce us to Soil-Smart Planning and how we can protect soil health and increase climate reliance in our gardening efforts.

For more information about Greening Greenfield and how to support our programs such as Housing Greenfield, and the planting of native habitat in Greenfield, please visit our newly designed website at  www.GreeningGreenfieldMA.org.

New Comments to FERC on Connecticut River Relicensing

Through May 22, 2024, many people are commenting to the FERC on the overall FirstLight application.  This is a sampling of some of those recent comments, generally from individuals rather than organizations.  More detailed comments will often have their own post.

 

CT River Hydro Relicensing – June ’22 Delegation notes

The following are notes as of a 6/9/22 meeting that members of the legislative delegation had with EEA and DEP.

  1. Updates from EEA/DEP since last call, especially focused on timing

    1. Timing still appears to be August for the Ready for Environmental Assessment**. EEA/DEP has not heard anything further from FERC that would indicate them moving forward any faster. DEP is lining up what they need, assuming the process will start around then.

    2. There are still negotiations going on re: comprehensive assessment. Those negotiations seem to be productive.

  2. MEPA Involvements

    1. MEPA Director Tori Kim is reviewing the previous determination and looking at whether a MEPA filing will be needed. Director Kim was actively looking at it when they spoke earlier in the week. DEP’s impression is that Director Kim would like to have a decision well before the August clock starts.

  3. DEP public-facing website on the relicensing

    1. DEP has developed a website with information both about the process and with links to FirstLight’s website for easy access to the information they are required to post. They added a mailing list feature so constituents can elect to receive email updates from DEP on the process. They plan for the website to be live in the next couple of weeks.

  4. Public meetings

    1. DEP is contracting with the UMass Donahue Institute to hold public meetings. Donahue will help with the public outreach and with an economic analysis.

    2. There will be four public meetings

      1. An introductory meeting, mainly a presentation of what’s in the application and about the process

      2. A listening session coinciding with the public comment period

      3. A presentation as DEP has processed the application to report back on what their direction is with the 401 WQC

      4. As they’re finalizing it, letting people know what’s in it and why

    3. It’s important that people submit comments during the formal public comment period because this establishes their rights to appeal, even though they’ll continue to have dialogue after that period.

** FERC issues the “Ready for Environmental Assessment (REA)” at which point, FirstLight will submit their application for a 401 Water Quality Certificate (WQC) to DEP, which will then start the one-year clock for DEP to issue the 401 WQC.

Water Cools the Planet

Working with Nature to Restore our Climate is the theme of Greening Greenfield’s spring series of free in-person events. The first event, Water Cools the Planet, will be held Monday, March 25, 6:30-8pm, at the Second Congregational Church on Court Square in Greenfield.

“In this series, we will look into some novel ways of thinking that can help restore biodiversity and mitigate climate change,” says Dorothea Sotiros, avid gardener and Greening Greenfield member.

“I am particularly interested in the powerful role that water, plants and soil play in building climate resilience at home and beyond.”

The March 25 event will be kicked off by watching Water Cools the Planet, the first part of Regenerating Life, a beautiful documentary. This film offers fascinating insights into the role of water and plants, especially trees, in nurturing and balancing our climate.

John Feldman, writer, editor, and narrator shares his quest for a deeper understanding of what regulates the temperature of our planet, beyond carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.  He introduces us to scientists who are exploring many aspects of our Earth who share their insights.

A 30-minute discussion, facilitated by Mary Westervelt, educator, with a Master’s in Environmental Studies, will follow the showing of the film.

 Water Cools the Planet will be followed by a viewing and discussion of Life Sustains the Climate, the second segment of Regenerating Life, on April 1.

The final event of the series will be held on Earth Day, April 22. Rachel Lindsay, Ecologist, Gardener and Lead Designer at Regenerative Design Group, will introduce us to Soil-Smart Planning and how we can protect soil health and increase climate reliance in our gardening efforts.

For more information about Greening Greenfield and how to support our programs such as Housing Greenfield, and the planting of native habitat in Greenfield, please visit www.GreeningGreenfieldMA.org.

Comments of John Hinton 03-13-2024

First Light FERC.docx

To: FERC From: John Sinton, Florence, MA

Re.: Relicensing of Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Facility and Turners Falls Dam

My name is John Sinton of Florence, Massachusetts. For twenty-five years, I have been an active and now honorary member of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Conservancy (formerly the Watershed Council). I co-authored The Connecticut River Boating Guide, Source to Sea, published in 2008 and have been an advocate for the river since the year 2000. I have witnessed and participated in all the activities of the Connecticut River Conservancy including consistent efforts to increase migratory fish habitat and recreational opportunities.

I appreciate the efforts of First Light Power to expand recreational facilities and access. I applaud these initiatives, and only hope that there will be further improvements to help paddlers portage their boats.

Furthermore, summer minimum flows need to provide sufficient water for both fish and paddlers.

For decades, First Light Power has notoriously resisted improvements in fish passage and river habitat. First Light’s offer to synchronize hydro flows with fish passage and improved aquatic life are delayed well beyond a sensible time frame – another decade before new fish passage infrastructure? Insufficient flows to nourish juvenile fish and eggs? No invasive species management? Refusal to include CRC in recreation discussions unless they agree to First Light’s conditions?

It is long past time to require that First Light take responsibility as a publicly licensed company to ensure the public interest, and that includes the interests of the river’s biota. I urge the FERC to withhold relicensing until First Light agrees to improve its operations as requested by such organizations as CRC, AMC, and American Rivers.

Thank you for your time, John Sinton

124 Willow St.

Florence, MA 01062