The Tyranny of Administrative (Green) Power in New Hampshire

Stop northern passBarry Brownstein, writing at the Foundation for Economic Education, outlines the problem and abuses of administrative power, right here in New Hampshire, summed up in his closing paragraph.

In New Hampshire, the absolute administrative power of the SEC—a power that poses an existential threat to the character and economic well-being of the state—is accepted as a given. Yet, the absolute power it exercises is unconstitutional and potentially tyrannical.

He’s referring to the state energy oligarchs who will decide things like Northern Pass, a project Brownstein reports exists primarily to help Massachusetts meet its green energy portfolio mandate with pricy hydropower from Canada.

New Hampshire is not exempt from the age-old scourge of mankind: the desire to get something for nothing. In New Hampshire, administrative power is the conduit for crony capitalists to take advantage of federal subsidies and state mandates for hydropower and wind power.

These subsidies and mandates relieve so-called green energy producers of the burden of meeting the needs of consumers. Then, not having to meet a market test of viability, proposed energy projects need only the permission of nine unelected members of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

The point being that a couple of connected insiders will determine if Northern Pass will pass.

Did New Hampshire voters approve the Northern Pass? No. On the contrary, the towns in NH are virtually unanimous in opposition to the project and some towns have even raised non-tax money from residents to fight this project. NH towns can’t block the project even if the Northern Pass encroaches on their property and roads. New Hampshire is a Dillon’s Rule state; towns have limited home-rule rights under Dillon’s Rule. As for abutters to the Northern Pass project, NH courts have already ruled against their property rights bankrupting some businesses even before construction has begun.

I never really took a position on Northern Pass but if we’re talking about the corrosive power of an administrative state, you have to agree that this it that.

No matter how well-intentioned the members of the SEC are, they are not independent. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” wrote Upton Sinclair in his account of running for governor of California in 1934, I, Candidate for Governor.

Aint that the truth.


H/T – Thanks to a Reader for the link!