Andy Martin asks the New Hampshire State Executive Council to hold an evidentiary hearing on the nomination of Jeffrey Rose to head the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development (“DRED”). Andy is one of New Hampshire’s leading opponents of both Northeast Utilities’ proposed Northern Pass high voltage transmission line and the expansion of unnecessary wind turbine electric power on scenic ridge lines. He has been “walking the lines,” in opposition to “power lines” (electric) and now “ridge lines” (wind power) since 2011.
February 21, 2013
Hon. Raymond S. Burton,
Hon. Colin Van Ostern,
Hon. Christopher T. Sununu,
Hon. Christopher C. Pappas,
Hon. Debora B. Pignatelli,
Re: Appointment of Jeffrey Rose to
Department of Resources and Economic Development
Dear Members of the Council:
Earlier this week I testified in support of a proposed statute to place a one-year moratorium on new wind and electrical power systems. Rather than repeat my earlier comments in this letter, I am sending you a copy of my prior remarks by separate email.
It is sufficient to summarize my view that issues raised by new electrical transmission systems (Northern Pass) and wind turbine systems raise serious questions concerning the economic future of our state. In this letter I would like to suggest why the Council should place a hold on Mr. Rose’s nomination and appoint a special committee to take testimony under oath from Mr. Rose.
1. My own qualification and background in environmental law
I was “present at the creation” of the modern environmental movement and have litigated cases under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). When I returned to New Hampshire two years ago, people brought environmental concerns to my attention. I began “Operation Walk The Line” to “walk the line” of the Northern Pass high voltage transmissions system. I have walked from the northern border into the central part of the state and will resume my statewide march when the weather improves. I oppose the Northern Pass as currently proposed. Recently I have broadened the scope of Operation Walk The Line to encompass opposition to “walking the ridge lines” in opposition to the untrammeled expansion of wind turbine power.
2. Mr. Rose’s right to fair treatment and due process
I start with the obvious view that whatever Mr. Rose’s positions on wind power and electrical transmission, his nomination should be treated fairly by all sides. There is no avoiding the fact that a sharp cleavage has developed in the state concerning whether to permit Northern Pass and whether to expand wind turbine power. But whether we are “for” or “against” (as I am) we should treat Mr. Rose and each other with civility and fairness.
3. The need to order an evidentiary hearing
There are sharply conflicting views on what Mr. Rose believes about Northern Pass, and apparently a gap in public knowledge about his position on wind turbine power. Asking the council to vote on his nomination without taking testimony under oath from Mr. Rose as to his prior statements and current views would by buying the proverbial pig in a poke. When the U. S. Senate exercises its power to “advise and consent” it always hears the nominee under oath, and subjects a nominee to searching inquiry before making a decision.
Has Mr. Rose opposed Northern pass? Has he supported Northern Pass? Has he sponsored meetings pro or con? There is no sworn record. Mr. Rose has a right to be judged fairly on his record, and both the Council and New Hampshire citizens have a right to know what that record is so that the Council may make an informed decision on his nomination. Unlike the federal level, where a president is given a presumption of choice, New Hampshire constitutional history is clear that the Council and the Council’s powers are a “negative” check on gubernatorial authority and not merely a rubber stamp.
4. The power to order a limited evidentiary hearing
I did some legal research before preparing this letter and while there are several dozen cases discussing the Council none of the Supreme Court’s decisions explicitly discuss the inherent powers of the Council. However, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence is extensive on the inherent authority of the various branches of New Hampshire government. Because the Council is a creature of the Constitution, I believe it has inherent power to conduct evidentiary hearings in appropriate circumstances. I believe the need to unquestioningly establish what Mr. Rose believes, and what actions he has taken in the past, support the appointment of a special committee or other appropriate person to conduct a hearing for the Council. Alternatively the Council could convene a hearing itself and sit en banc for the purpose of taking testimony from Mr. Rose under oath. If today’s hearing is limited merely to statements pro and con, the Council will only have the views of the proponents and opponents, and not the sworn testimony of Mr. Rose on which to make an informed decision.
5. My unavailability today and continuing cooperation
I regret that due to previously scheduled investigatory commitments I am unable to be present today. However, you may feel free to call on me for whatever opinions I may express or experience I can impart. And, if the Council decides to hold an evidentiary hearing, I would like to conduct part of the examination (or cross-examination) of Mr. Rose.