Union: Money is clouding CLF’s judgment

Union: Money is clouding CLF’s judgment

Cites partnership with Northern Pass rival TDI

THE RECENT PAID ADVERTISING by the Conservation Law Foundation (Sunday Boston Globe, page A12) against the Northern Pass transmission project should not be a surprise to citizens of Massachusetts or those making decisions regarding Massachusetts Clean Energy Initiative.  As my uncle always said, the answer to the question is usually money.

While CLF’s continued assault on Massachusetts economic development efforts and working families is disappointing, what is most troubling is CLF’s continued lack of transparency when it comes to their financial interests and partnerships with some energy projects and the positions they publically extol.  While CLF disparages Northern Pass, it promotes a nearly identical hydroelectric project because the group has a large financial partnership with the project’s developers.

CLF’s financial partnership with TDI, the developer of the New England Clean Power Link project, dates back to 2015.  At that time, CLF signed an agreement with TDI that put over $250 million into various environmental organizations with the requirement that CLF have a leadership role in these various environmental special interests.  Further, this money benefits other New England states, notably Vermont, and does not flow to Massachusetts.

As with all large energy infrastructure projects, there are negative environmental impacts from TDI’s project; however, CLF does not speak of any negative impacts of the TDI project because it has signed an agreement that prevents them from talking about it.  CLF is contractually obligated to stay silent about the TDI project and not get involved in anything that might be considered counter to the TDI project.

So, while CLF decries the negative environmental impacts of Canadian hydroelectric power used by the Northern Pass project, it has a financial partnership with a competing project that relies on the exact same source of Canadian hydroelectric power.

Unlike the TDI-CLF financial partnership, where the benefits of the energy project flow almost exclusively to CLF and environmental special interests, Northern Pass has directed its benefits to working families in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and established more than $200 million in benefits aimed at growing our states’ economies, creating jobs and investing in new clean energy technologies.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has taken an active role in promoting some electric transmission projects because of their importance to the workers of Massachusetts.  We have worked diligently to ensure that energy projects utilize local labor and that benefits from these projects flow to our home states.  Our motivation is to create work for our members and we strive to be transparent about our interests.

Meet the Author

Brian Murphy

Business manager, IBEW Local 104
Massachusetts citizens should demand the same of others that seek to influence your position on these important issues.

Brian Murphy of Walpole is the business manager for IBEW Local 104, which represents over 1,000 outside electrical workers in New England.

  • John DeVillars

    I am a big fan of the IBEW for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they have been strong and resolute supporters of policies that have made the Commonwealth a national leader in energy efficiency and renewable, carbon-free electricity generation. As active advocates for clean energy, the leadership and members of the IBEW have played a critical role in the creation of the more than 15,000 solar energy jobs in Massachusetts and thousands more in off-shore wind, energy conservation and other sectors of our clean energy economy. Therefore, I was disappointed to read Brian Murphy’s 1.22.2018 Commonwealth piece in which he suggested that one of IBEW’s key allies in these efforts, the Conservation Law Foundation, is somehow compromised in their viewpoint on the Northern Pass Project because they are receiving funding from a competing transmission project. It is my understanding that this is not the case and that, in fact, CLF receives no financial benefits for its support of an alternative transmission approach. In my experience CLF calls ’em like it sees ’em; they always have and I have every expectation they always will. More often than not that puts them on the side of the IBEW. When it doesn’t, the facts should prevail., in this instance, the facts as they see ’em – not a financial interest, – are what has led CLF to oppose the Northern Pass. People can arrive at their own opinion on the merits of the Northern Pass project, but let’s base the debate on the facts, not by questioning the motives of the protagonists, especially when those motives are based on inaccurate claims.