CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Chris Sununu reaffirmed his commitment to the Northern Pass transmission line Monday and called for revisions to NAFTA in his first international trip to Canada.
“It’s a win-win on both sides,” Sununu said of Northern Pass. “It’s a project I’ve always said should happen, could happen and I believe has to happen.”
Northern Pass is a project between HydroQuebec and Eversource Energy that would bring hydropower into the New England energy grid through mostly overhead transmission lines running down New Hampshire. Sununu, a Republican, has long touted the project as a way to lower energy costs in New Hampshire. Opponents challenge its economic effect and charge it would ruin the state’s natural landscape. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard applauded Sununu’s support.
The purpose of Sununu’s trip was to meet with Couillard and discuss New Hampshire and Quebec’s economic relationship with political, business and community leaders. Sununu pledged during his campaign to aggressively recruit new businesses into New Hampshire during his first days in office.
New Hampshire reporters were not notified of the trip until Monday morning, and Sununu’s office did not provide details on remarks he made during a luncheon. Sununu’s comments about Northern Pass and NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, came during a press conference with Couillard that was streamed online.
Sununu was asked by a reporter to comment on what changes he’d like to see to NAFTA, an accord among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Republican President Donald Trump has called for renegotiating the agreement to make it more favorable to the United States.
Sununu said the agreement could be “updated and revised” to reflect advances in technology, but he offered no specifics. He also said it’s important to have a system that fairly imposes taxes and fees.
“It’s an important agreement to be sure,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we’re not just going to throw it out.”
On climate change, Sununu told reporters that protecting the environment has “always been a priority.” Sununu said he’ll be working with fellow governors in the coming years to update the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
Trump has called the science showing climate change a hoax. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said last week the Trump administration was cutting spending for climate change efforts because “we consider that to be a waste of your money.”
Sununu said he’s “encouraged” by proposed changes to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which would see its budget cut significantly under Trump’s proposal. He did not mention specific changes he favors.
This story has been corrected to show NAFTA’s full name is the North American Free Trade Agreement, not the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.
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