Annie Ropeik

Reporter: Energy, Environment, Development

Annie Ropeik joined NHPR’s reporting team in 2017, following stints with public radio stations and collaborations across the country. She has reported everywhere from fishing boats, island villages and cargo terminals in Alaska, to cornfields, factories and Superfund sites in the Midwest.

Her work has appeared on NPR, the BBC and CNN, and earned recognition from PRNDI, the Delaware and Alaska Press Clubs and the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists.

Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Annie caught the public media bug during internships at NPR in Washington and WBUR in Boston. She studied classics at Boston University and enjoys a good PDF, the rule of threes and meeting other people’s dogs.

Jim Richmond

New Hampshire is refocusing its energy policy for the next decade, aiming to prioritize lower costs for consumers and to allow “unaided market competition” for all forms of energy.

Public Service of New Hampshire

A new report says the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has put $4 billion into Northeast economies since 2009.

The three-year study by the Analysis Group says those benefits have continued even as the program known as RGGI grew more ambitious.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass project will go back before the state Site Evaluation Committee next month.

The panel denied the huge power line proposal in February, and developer Eversource had asked it to reconsider.

Now that its written denial of the project is out, the committee has set a hearing on the issue for May 24 in Concord, with an extra day scheduled for June 4 if necessary.

NH Seagrant

Scientists at UNH want the public’s help to search for invasive green crabs this spring and summer.

The second year of the monitoring project starts this Saturday.

New Hampshire Sea Grant biologist Gabby Bradt wants to find hotspots of green crabs, and determine when they molt, on the coast.

“And the reason for that is I'm really interested in figuring out when we can harvest soft shell crabs for a fishery and for a seafood market,” she says.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pre-planned outage at Berlin's wood-burning power plant ends Saturday night.

The 75-megawatt Burgess Biomass Plant has been down for routine maintenance since last weekend.

Plant manager David Walker says they've been doing this twice a year since 2016.

"Biomass plants will typically schedule this time of year, because of what they call the spring and the fall mud season, so the loggers aren't allowed to get into the woods, or if the roads are posted and whatnot,” he says.

Via USGS.gov

Update, Tuesday 10 a.m.: The records hearing was continued late Monday night and has not yet been rescheduled.

Original post, Monday 4 p.m.: 

A judge is expected to decide Tuesday if the towns and businesses responsible for pollution at Coakley Landfill on the Seacoast have to release more of their internal records.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some Seacoast residents were unhappy Thursday night to hear state and federal officials reiterate they don’t believe the Coakley Landfill is contaminating area drinking water.

Authorities say some groundwater wells around the Superfund site in North Hampton do show high levels of suspected carcinogens called PFCs – but they say the chemicals haven’t spread to private wells.

Scott Reynolds

Only a couple of dozen bats spent this past winter in New Hampshire.

That’s down from thousands a decade ago, before a fungus called white nose syndrome decimated many species’ populations in 2009.

Biologist Scott Reynolds says since then, the mine shafts where bats used to hibernate in large numbers have been pretty empty.

But white nose has also subsided in New Hampshire.

Now, Reynolds says recovery for the species hit hardest, such as little brown bats, is just beginning.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

 

Renewable energy advocates say they want to see more communities cutting emissions and pushing for offshore wind development in New Hampshire.

 

The League of Conservation Voters launched a new campaign in Portsmouth on Wednesday to push for those reforms at the state and local levels. 

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State lawmakers are considering a deeper study of asbestos issues in New Hampshire. It would look at how fairly and quickly people who were exposed to the toxic substance can get compensation.

But asbestos lawsuits are all but nonexistent in the Granite State.

Instead, the legislature’s interest in the issue stems from a national campaign – and it has some advocates worried about obstacles for future cases.

WPS Geography

Environmentalists will kick off a new campaign for clean energy development in Portsmouth Wednesday.

The League of Conservation Voters' "Clean Energy for All" project spans 30 states, including New Hampshire.

State Director Rob Werner says they're unveiling the campaign in Portsmouth because zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions and using all renewable sources of power are now part of that city's energy policy goals.

Grungetextures.com / Darren Hester/ Flickr CC

State lawmakers may take a closer look at giving New Hampshire control of its own storm water permits, now managed by the federal government.

New Hampshire is one of four states where the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of storm water regulations.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Spring in New Hampshire means black bears are emerging from their dens to search for food – including around your backyard bird feeder.

And warming winters are bringing the bears out sooner. So state officials now want people to bring in their bird feeders earlier than ever.

Kelly Dwyer lives in a big, airy house nestled up against the woods in Hooksett. Being back here, she says, has its perks:

“The surprise of what is going to show up that day – what’s going to fly in or walk in – it’s really exciting,” she says. “And just the peace and tranquility.”

CREDIT DARYL CARLSON/KAMARAIMAGE.COM

Spring is a time of transition in New Hampshire -- from ice fishing, to open water fishing. That's why the Department of Fish & Game wants residents to remove their bob houses from lakes and ponds by Saturday.

State law lets bob houses stay standing until April 1st. But Fish & Game administrative lieutenant Heidi Murphy says she hopes most have been hauled off the remaining ice by now.

Maine In, N.H. Out for Energy Contract with Massachusetts

Mar 28, 2018
Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

Massachusetts energy officials have announced they're going with Plan B to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to the Bay State.

They've selected a back-up project that runs transmission lines through Maine, after New Hampshire state regulators refused to allow Plan A – the controversial Northern Pass project.

But the Maine project, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, also faces an uncertain future.

In Massachusetts, the announcement got kudos and criticism from those closely watching the state's selection of a massive clean energy project:

Town of Coventry screenshot

Residents of a Rhode Island apartment complex owned by Brady Sullivan Properties begged town officials Monday night to protect them from toxic mold.

Manchester-based Brady Sullivan built the Harris Mill lofts in the town of Coventry.

The company is facing several lawsuits from residents who say mold in their apartments has made them and their young children sick, and that their landlord has covered it up.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Climate change is leaving a mark on one of New Hampshire's springtime rituals: maple sugaring.

Scientists and farmers dug into the latest research over pancakes in Plymouth on Tuesday.

Mount Washington Observatory research director Eric Kelsey says maple trees face a lot of stresses: abnormal storms, droughts, excess road salt, acid rain and new pests.

"And that might explain the general 25 percent decrease in sap-sugar content we've seen over the last 40 to 50 years,” Kelsey says.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Members of the New Hampshire legislature’s Seacoast Cancer Cluster Commission said they didn’t want to debate facts about Coakley Landfill and its effect on public health at their meeting Monday – but that’s mostly what they ended up doing.

State and federal regulators told legislators repeatedly they can’t prove or disprove whether Coakley Landfill Superfund Site is causing cancer on the Seacoast.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

More than 100 responders from dozens of state, federal and local agencies were busy in Portsmouth Thursday, practicing their response to a hypothetical oil spill.

These exercises happen every year on the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine – but the made-up crisis they game out is always changing.

Carroll Brown is New Hampshire’s oil spill contingency planner. He says this year’s scenario imagined flying debris from a winter storm, rupturing an Irving Oil diesel tank on the riverbank in downtown Portsmouth.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state’s deal with the Saint Gobain plastics company to fix water pollution in southern New Hampshire is unprecedented in size – but officials say it doesn’t cover everything.

The deal was announced this week, and environmental regulators answered residents’ questions about it at a public meeting in Litchfield Thursday night.

https://youtu.be/Aw7CgEYs7M8

With spring on the way, state conservation officials say it's time for residents to take in their bird feeders.

Even as winter weather continues, the Department of Fish and Game's bear project leader Andrew Timmins says bears are waking up – and they're hungry for rich, fatty foods like birdseed.

"Bears have excellent memories. They know where they've got 'em in the past, and they'll routinely check those areas to see if those feeders are still available,” he says. “And they'll just start searching backyards in general looking for that food.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Federal and state agencies will act out an oil spill response scenario in Portsmouth on Thursday as part of a federal requirement to practice for a real-life crisis.

This year's drill imagines a winter storm damaging part of the local Irving Oil facility overnight, causing a large amount of oil to spill into the Piscataqua River.

New Hampshire has reached what officials call a “monumental agreement” on water contamination with the Saint Gobain plastics company.

It comes more than two years after the state first learned of the contamination near Manchester, and will require the manufacturer to run clean water to all affected homes.

Saint Gobain notified the state in 2016 that it had released suspected carcinogens called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, from its Merrimack factory.

Via USGS.gov

The city of Portsmouth says it expects to release a trove of documents about toxic waste cleanup at Coakley Landfill Superfund Site around the end of this month.

It comes as a group of Seacoast lawmakers files suit to get records from the entities responsible for that pollution, known together as the Coakley Landfill Group. 

ISO-New England

New England has gotten federal approval for a first-in-the-nation type of power supply auction. It'll let new renewable energy projects take over for old fossil fuel plants on the grid.

Once a year, the nonprofit grid operator ISO-New England holds an auction for power generators who want to supply energy for the region, starting three years out. 

via Facebook

Lawsuits are mounting against a big New Hampshire-based developer over mold in some of its properties in Rhode Island.

Attorneys say around 100 additional tenants are prepared to sue Brady Sullivan for allegedly getting them sick.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state House has again rejected a bid to give New Hampshire towns more control over their own environmental protections – but advocates of the constitutional amendment say they're making progress.

Organizer Michelle Sanborn with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund says the House barely debated the proposal the first time around, in 2016.

So she's encouraged by Thursday’s House vote of 217 to 112 against it.

National Marine Life Center

A young harp seal who spent a month recuperating after getting stranded on Hampton Beach will be released on Sunday.

It’s only the second time the Seacoast Science Center has helped release a seal in New Hampshire waters.

The year-old seal is named Merrimack, or Mack for short. He was found on Hampton Beach on Valentine's Day.

Seacoast Science Center marketing director Karen Provazza says Mack was alert and chatty, but also seemed sick and confused.

Harp seals are born on ice in Canada and like to eat snow, but Mack was eating sand off the beach. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state Senate has voted to repeal New Hampshire's death penalty – though Gov. Chris Sununu says he'll veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

The 14 to 10 vote Thursday comes after the Senate rejected repealing the death penalty twice in recent years, even as the House supported it. 

Now, the House will take up this latest proposal to change the state's highest punishment – for capital murder – to life in prison.

EPA

The state Senate wants to take a closer at asbestos-related lawsuits in New Hampshire.

They voted Thursday to form a study committee on issues of transparency and speed in asbestos litigation.

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