Sam Evans-Brown

Environment and Education Reporter

 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for  New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. His work has won several local broadcast journalism awards, and he was a 2013 Steinbrenner Institute Environmental Media Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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Via Creative Resistance

More than two hundred New Hampshire residents are headed to New York City Sunday for a massive climate change demonstration.

Organizers of the People’s Climate March – which include environmental advocacy groups, labor unions, and religious organizations – think anywhere from one to four hundred thousand people could be in attendance.

From the Granite State there are 3 full charter buses leaving from Concord,  another two are coming from Maine to pick up folks in Portsmouth.

Tashir Hashmi via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to sustain three of Governor Maggie Hassan’s vetoes from the last legislative session.

The bills would have cracked down on bullying between state employees, given the legislature the power to decide privacy disputes raised during audits of state agencies, and made it illegal to disclose the name of a lottery winner.

A majority of the house, but not the needed two thirds, voted in favor of the auditing and the lottery winner privacy bill.

Stonyfield Yogurt and Wikifoods

  A handful of companies are trying to take an idea straight out of Willy Wonka and turn it into reality: edible packaging. I mean, why dump tons of waste into landfills when the container your food comes in could be a part of the snack?

One company called WikiFoods has taken inspiration from fruit to create a frozen yogurt ball surrounded by an edible skin. But marketing glitz aside, this product shows that duplicating nature is no easy feat.

Spectra Energy

Developers are proposing a natural gas pipeline expansion that would beef up the lines connecting New Jersey to Nova Scotia. The possible expansion is the fourth that has been proposed for the region.

Northeast Utilities and Spectra Energy are partnering in the bid to expand two already existing gas transmission networks, the Algonquin network, and the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline.

The project would supply as much as a billion cubic feet per day, which would be a big boost to gas supplies.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

A group representing power plants all over New England has asked regulators to weigh in whether Northern Pass is receiving inappropriate subsidies from Public Service of New Hampshire.

At issue is what’s the definition of a “competitive affiliate.” These are companies that the utility owns, and which provide similar services. The New England Power Generators Association or NEPGA, a group that represents PSNH competitors and opposes Northern Pass, argues in a filing submitted to regulators at the Public Utilities Commssion on Monday that is what Northern Pass is to PSNH.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

There were nine primaries in New Hampshire’s state Senate yesterday; eight of them between Republicans.

Two Republican incumbents – David Boutin of Hooksett, and Nancy Stiles of Hampton –beat back more conservative challengers. Boutin’s race the tougher: he bested former state rep Jane Cormier by single digits.

The one Democratic primary was in Merrimack County. It was to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Senate President Sylvia Larsen. Concord School Board member Kass Ardinger – who was endorsed by Larsen – was routed by Dan Feltes, a legal aid lawyer.

Jon Sullivan / Flickr CC

  After a year of increases, the price that power-plant owners pay to emit a ton of carbon under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, fell this quarter.

Investors, who crowded into the market last year, were less bullish in the latest auction. They took only 20 percent of carbon allowances this quarter, down from 55 percent at the beginning of 2014.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

In the final debate of the Republican primary for US senate, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith had one last chance to put Scott Brown on the ropes. They did their best, but Brown avoided any major missteps.

From the moment he’s come into the race Scott Brown has been seen as front-runner. Now with the primary just days away, Smith and Rubens are still trying to run him down.

When Brown, who has voiced support for an assault weapons ban in the past, evaded a question on gun control his rivals pounced.

Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Department of Education has rejected the Manchester School District’s request to opt-out of a new standardized test to be given this spring. In a letter to the school district, Education Commissioner Virginia Barry writes that if Manchester doesn’t administer the Smarter Balanced exam, it could lose nearly $17 million in federal education funds.

Kevin Bryant / Flickr CC

Researchers studying the Gulf of Maine say its waters are warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, and worry the rising temperatures will hit New England commercial fisheries hard.

The study is still in its preliminary phase, and is being conducted by scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. According to their data the waters off of New England’s coast are warming by about a half a degree Fahrenheit per year on average. That gives the region a dubious distinction.

NH OEP

At the tail-end of the section that opens New Hampshire’s ten-year energy strategy, released Tuesday, there are three paragraphs that acknowledge the issue which has been dominating the regional energy conversation. During the winter prices spike because natural gas electricity plants have been built and homeowners have converted to natural gas for heating and the region’s network of gas pipelines has not expanded as demand has grown.

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled four men sentenced to life in prison for murders committed when they were minors should get new sentencing hearings. The decision retroactively applies a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling that deemed mandatory life-sentences for juveniles cruel and unusual punishment.

NHPR Staff

A unanimous New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling out today says a controversial school choice program will once again be able to give tax-credit-funded scholarships to religious schools, but today’s ruling is far from the final word.

Under the Education Tax Credit, companies can give donations for scholarships, and claim 85 percent off their business taxes. Scholarship organizations use those donations to give money to students who want to change to private school, a different public school, or homeschool.

The Supreme Court will release its ruling later this morning on whether a small but controversial school choice program is constitutional. 

Under the 2012 law, businesses that donate to private scholarship organizations can receive an 85 percent tax credit. The organizations then give scholarships to students attending private schools, homeschool or an out-of-district public school. Seventy percent of the scholarships go to public school students who leave the public school system for another option.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Republican US Senate candidates Bob Smith, Jim Rubens, and Scott Brown squared off this morning for a debate broadcast on WGIR. The repeated confrontations during the debate highlighted the growing tension between the trio as September 9th Primary nears.

Former State Senator Jim Rubens for weeks has been demanding Scott Brown lay out what – specifically – he would propose to replace Obamacare. That again was he tactic Rubens used Wednesday morning.

USDA / Flickr CC

The Manchester School Board voted Monday night not to apply for a new federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, but the state’s largest city is not alone in opting out of the program.

Any school where forty percent of students receive food stamps (SNAP), or temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) is eligible for a USDA program which began in 2010, but was only expanded to New Hampshire this year. It ensures that every student is fed breakfast and lunch.

But there’s a catch.

Josh Rogers

Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign is trying to paint a company that paid her opponent Scott Brown $270,000 dollars as a “serial outsourcer.”

Brown has been on the board of directors of Kadant Incorporated, which supplies equipment for the pulp and paper industry, since February of 2013. The company’s annual report, which Brown signed off on, says it plans to grow in the US market by “using low cost manufacturing bases, such as China and Mexico.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In just three weeks, Republicans will choose who will face one of the most successful politicians in recent New Hampshire history: incumbent US Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

This race is one of less than a dozen in the country that could help decide the balance of power in the Senate.

On paper, the three leading candidates have their strengths, but the front-runner remains clear. In the field are two former Senators, and a former state-level politician who the Manchester Union leader declared Citizen of the year in 2013.

But all of them have baggage.

Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP

The parents of journalist James Foley, who was killed by the militant group the Islamic State, say their son is now a martyr for freedom.

“Jimmy did his work. So it's up to others to pick up the ball and go forward. You know?” said John Foley, James’ father, “Our government, other foreign governments. How long are we going to tolerate all this?”

Speaking to the press outside their home in Rochester earlier today, Foley’s parents said eye-witnesses had already told them their son was still alive.

James Jordan / Flickr CC

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as triple E, has been detected for the first time this year in New Hampshire. The Department of Health and Human Services found the disease, which can be fatal to humans, in a batch of mosquitos from Londonderry.

Eleven humans have contracted the disease in New Hampshire since 2005, though there have been no recorded cases since 2009.

Abigail Mathewson State Public Health Veternarian says the discovery marks the beginning of mosquito-borne illness season.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The leading candidates for U.S. Senate met for debates Thursday in North Conway.

The debate, hosted by the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, ranged from Obamacare to medical marijuana, from the Veteran's Affairs to the National Security Agency. And with the increasing instability in the Middle East the candidates spent plenty of time airing their views on the situation in Iraq.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Republican Candidate for US Senate Scott Brown campaigned in Nashua Monday night. Both he and the critics the event attracted used the opportunity to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

Brown opened what his campaign billed as a town hall meeting by laying out his case against so-called Obamacare. Many of the questions that followed came from local democrats who stressed positive aspects of the federal health-care law. Brown meanwhile said he’d like to see the law replaced with a network of state controlled solutions.

Flickr CC

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA finds that Atlantic Cod cod stocks have reached the lowest level ever.

Russ Brown, with the NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, says after researchers observed declining cod stocks in 2011, counts during the last fishing season showed cod populations continue to slide. 

"All three of the bottom trawl surveys have all reached record low levels, and our estimate of spawning stock biomass coming out of the stock assessment has also reached record low levels," says Brown.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  The Republican Candidates vying for the chance to run against Jeanne Shaheen for Senate in November were stumping in Concord over the weekend. Scott Brown, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith faced questions about agricultural and timber policies at an event hosted by the New Hampshire Farm Bureau and the Timberland Owners Association at Carter Hill Orchard.

Brown used the opportunity to say that he wants to cut the red tape required to get temporary worker visas.

Pembleton / Flickr CC

Data released Friday shows that a crucial piece of the ecosystem of the Great Bay estuary continued a seventeen-year downward trend.

Eel-grass is a big deal to the Great Bay. According to Rachel Rouillard, the executive director of the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), “eelgrass is like our canary in the coal-mine, it’s a fundamental underpinning of the health and vitality of the whole system.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Compost has long been the domain of farmers and gardeners, not city-folk, but with both Vermont and Massachusetts pushing ahead with bans on throwing away food waste, curb-side pickup of compost is set to become more commonplace.

Banning food-scraps from land-fills hasn’t come been high on the legislative agenda in New Hampshire, but with a few tweaks, towns could begin to turn to compost for another reason: to save money.

New Hampshire has slid to fourth place on a national ranking of places to raise children.

After decades in first place, the Granite State slid to fourth in the Kids Count Index, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, with Massachusetts, Vermont, and Iowa now holding the top spots.

The drop was attributed to an increase in child poverty, up from 9 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2012.

Increases in homes with single parents and where the parents lack secure employment also factored into the decline.

Facebook: Save Market Basket

Shelves are a little barer than usual in Market Basket stores around New Hampshire. An employee strike in support of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas held up at least some food distribution.

Employees at the Market Basket in downtown Concord say no trucks came in on Friday, and the produce cooler was already virtually empty by mid-day. 

“I shop here all the time so I did notice that the produce section was definitely lower,” says Heather D’Angelis, “and they did make a comment that they weren’t certain what trucks were running.”

Sam Evans-Brown Data: NH PUC

According to new numbers filed with the state’s Public Utilities Commission, a little less than 56 percent of the electricity sold to consumers in the service territory of the state’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, came from competitive suppliers. That number peaked at 58 percent last October before dropping to 49 percent in February thanks to soaring winter electric market prices.

“This could be a plateau, we did see some leveling off of the migration numbers in late 2013, and then we saw a big reversal,” says Martin Murray, PSNH spokesman.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Governors of New England and the premiers of the Eastern Canadian Provinces have just wrapped up a meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The conference was focused on the issues of energy and trade, though dueling protests outside the conference meant energy stole the spotlight for much of the event. But the speakers and resolutions of the conference barely touched on the most pressing energy issues facing New England, and this careful side-stepping of the issues  is a reflection of a tumultuous energy landscape.

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