Eddie Rich’s letter to the editor of April 18, “Research shows hydropower is clean,” if not read carefully, could leave the reader with an impression not supported by the facts.

Mr. Rich, chief executive of the International Hydropower Association, makes his claim by quoting Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data about hydro generation carbon dioxide output per kilowatt-hour over the estimated lifespan of dams. The somewhat comforting number he provides is a “median” figure based on data from many sites across the world. Half the world hydro generating facilities output more carbon dioxide than the figure he quotes. Rich does not choose to offer greenhouse gas emission figures for any of Hydro-Québec’s generating facilities or to indicate whether HQ facilities are more or less polluting than the world median figure he quotes.

Contrast this “no problems here folks” portrayal of Hydro-Québec’s greenhouse gas profile with the science-based testimony in the DEP record of MIT Professor of Earth Sciences Brad Hager.

Dr. Hager presents compelling evidence that Hydro-Québec’s generating facilities are significant emitters of greenhouse gases. He notes that, unlike more appropriately sited hydropower reservoirs in other parts of the world, Hydro-Québec’s shallow reservoirs trap more organic material in the flooded areas, thus releasing greater carbon dioxide and more potent, heat-trapping gases such as methane. The published peer-reviewed scientific literature cited by Dr. Hager places HQ’s power “among the dirtiest hydro in the world.”

Dr. Hager’s testimony may be found at: https://www.maine.gov/dep/ftp/projects/necec/draft-order-comments/party/2020-04-13%20Group%204%20Attachments%20A-D.pdf

Celeste Carey


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