Gov. Maggie Hassan ought to cut her losses, and New Hampshire’s, by withdrawing her controversial nominees to the Site Evaluation Committee. Instead, she seems to be hoping to lean on Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli to be a “good Democrat’’ and give the governor the third vote she needs to get her way.
But Hassan risks politically hurting the other Democrats on the council. The grassroots opposition to putting two current legislators on the Site Evaluation Committee is strong and growing. It is not just foes of subsidized wind turbine power and the Northern Pass project who object to Hassan’s choices.
The Site Evaluation Committee plays an important role in what power projects get approved in New Hampshire. That was recognized in the recent legislation that reduced the number of state officials on the committee and instead mandated that two members be “public.’’
State Sen. Bob Odell and state Rep. Amanda Merrill are anything but “public’’ members. They are veterans of State House politics and as such have a government view. That is precisely what the legislation was trying to avoid. It was designed so that John or Jane Q. Public would have a direct role on the committee.
That public role needs to be independent and fair-minded. That is easier said than found but no one said it was going to be a snap for the governor to find such people. But Odell’s past support for wind turbines further clouds his independence. And we doubt it is coincidence that the electrical workers union, which just so happens to be big backers of Northern Pass, has rushed to Hassan’s aid to endorse Odell and Merrill.
The governor says she needs to get people confirmed quickly so the SEC can do its work. Get better nominees, governor.
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