HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Climate justice was on full display in Hampshire County Tuesday. Forest activists and the community making their message heard outside of Eversource headquarters in Hadley.

The Climate Justice Coalition told 22News they’re concerned about Eversource’s attempt to waive the required environmental impact report for cutting down 370 acres of forest by transmission lines in Hampshire and Franklin counties, adding there will be little impact. Protestors say they want Eversource to wait for the next administration to come up with standard rules for modernizing the grid.

Greenfield resident Glen Ayers told 22News, “The negative thing is that they may not be following the right environmental standards and they may not be performing mitigation because they are planning on chopping down 370 acres of mature forest and we need our mature forest to draw down carbon from the atmosphere during a climate emergency.”

“We are currently in the process right now of putting an environmental impact report, we’re preparing it for MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act). What this is, is we are taking down trees that come too close to the transmission lines, that could impact our transmission system. The transmission system really is the electric grid. So, we can’t have the trees come too close and we can’t allow a tree to impact that system and we have to be sure that we have access in case we have to make repairs,” said Eversource Spokesperson Priscilla Ress.

Ress went on to say that with the area seeing more severe storms, it’s critical that Eversource have enough clearance and remove any trees deemed a hazard.

“Clear cutting 370 acres of forest has a great deal of impact in terms of natural carbon capture, water retention, wildlife habitat and heat mitigation”, points out Don Ogden of The Enviro Show, a regional radio show focusing on energy and environmental concerns. “Eversource needs to do due diligence before it can even think about a project like the one they are proposing.”

The following statement was provided to 22News from Eversource Spokesperson Priscilla Ress about the Transmission Right-of-Way Reliability Program (TRRP):

“We balance the need to maintain electric reliability with our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. To enhance day to day reliability and improve system performance during severe weather events, We have developed TRRP to improve the reliability of the transmission system. As part of this program we clear incompatible species from within the currently unmaintained/forested portions of its ROWs. This effort increases the distance between the overhead transmission lines and the adjacent, unmaintained/forested vegetation and reduces the risk that tall growing trees will fall into the lines. This work has become increasingly important over the last several years as severe weather events have become more intense and more common causing extended outages. Responsible vegetation management programs are critical for us to safely and reliably meet the current and future energy needs of our customers.”

22News will continue to follow this story and bring you any new developments as we get them.