Romney still neutral on controversial N.H. power-line project

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has not taken a position on the controversial Northern Pass power project in New Hampshire, although a top official involved in the project is co-chairing a Romney fundraiser. But Romney has opposed the use of eminent domain to seize land for the project.

The Globe reported yesterday that Greg Butler, the senior vice president and general counsel for The Northern Pass, is co-chairing a $500-a-head fundraiser for Romney’s presidential campaign in Manhattan tomorrow evening.

The Northern Pass project involves creating a new transmission line from a hydroelectric power facility in Canada to a “power pool’’ in New England. There are several different proposed routes for the power transmission line, and a final route has not yet been decided on.

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Northern Pass says the project will lessen reliance on fossil fuels. But the project has met fierce opposition across New Hampshire. Opponents cite the impact on property values and on views from conservation lands, and say the project will not help New Hampshire. Recent negotiations between landowners and Northern Pass, which is said to have threatened to seize land using eminent domain, have inflamed the opposition.

Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said today that Romney has not seen the specifics of a final Northern Pass proposal. But Williams said Romney “strongly supports local control and opposes any attempt to use eminent domain to take private property for the purposes of a private enterprise.’’

Romney addressed the issue at a debate in New Hampshire in June, when he said government should not use its power of eminent domain to give land to a private corporation. “If land is going to be taken for purposes of a private enterprise, that’s the wrong way to go,’’ Romney said then.

New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary, and is a state where Romney holds a strong lead in all the polls.

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