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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Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

One of the state’s biggest environmental organizations is finishing the fundraising for a 1,300 acre conservation deal in North Conway. Once it’s finished, the land will be added to the 4,000 existing acres of the Nature Conservancy’s Green Hills Preserve, where it will provide recreation for people, and habitat for plants and animals.

But before the conservancy closes the deal it wants to know what it’s getting, and to figure that out it assembled plant and wildlife experts from all over the state for a sort of naturalist marathon.

Data: RGGI.org / NHPR

In the latest quarterly auction of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, the cost for the right to emit a ton of carbon has again reached a new high. Speculation that more states could join RGGI could be driving interest in carbon allowances.

The announcement of the new EPA rules jazzed the latest RGGI auction. When the prices came out Friday morning, they were at $5.02 per ton of CO2, up from $4.00 in the last auction.

Jim Rubens stopped by the secretary of states office Thursday to file his candidacy for US Senate. The Hanover Republican used the opportunity to make the case that he’ll be the number one competitor to former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in the primary.

Former state senator Jim Rubens is perhaps the most difficult Republican to pin down ideologically in the race for the Senate seat currently held by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Rubens, has trailed Scott Brown in early polls,

He’s been campaigning furiously on issues related to gun rights and veterans affairs.

US Army Corp of Engineers / Flickr CC

There’s a database in New Hampshire, nestled in hard-drives in the Department of Education, with all sorts of information about student test scores, graduation rates, and achievement. It shows how poor kids do on tests compared to rich kids, and how minorities do compared to whites, and whether schools are improving on those tests.

Whenever the data in it is accessed, it’s totally anonymous; only a handful of employees at the DOE can match these test-scores with student names.

SNL; http://www.snl.com/InteractiveX/Article.aspx?cdid=A-28272515-14375

A lot of reporters were distracted by the big number in yesterday's announcement of proposed reductions in carbon dioxide emissions: 30 percent by 2030. Indeed that was the lead sentence in almost every news story about the new rules. 

But the 30 percent figure is not how the Environmental Protection Agency will measure success of the new regulations. The figure is arbitrary, chosen to give some nationwide context to what the state-by-state goals would mean.

The goals the EPA actually set vary quite a lot from state to state. And, indeed, how the agency arrived at those figures is a good deal more complicated than just picking a nice, round number.

Flkr Creative Commons / PSNH

Under a proposed rule out of the EPA Monday, New Hampshire will have to come up with its own plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, many of the building blocks for that plan are already in place.

The new EPA rule says that New Hampshire should emit 486 pounds of carbon per megawatt hour of electricity generated, and that, as of 2012, New Hampshire’s rate was 905 pounds per megawatt hour.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Paul Schaberg marshals a small team of scientists, surveying a stand of red spruce in Colebrook for frost damage from last winter.

“So what are you guys seeing, are you seeing any injury yet?” he calls out.  

“We’re just seeing green needles,” hollers back one of his helpers.

“Happy, happy trees,” responds another.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Spanish Wind Developer Iberdrola has pulled the plug on Wild Meadows, a controversial wind farm that was proposed for the towns of Alexandria and Danbury, the troubled project submitted an application for construction in December but put it on hold to deal with problems at another wind farm the next town over.

Aaron Knox / Flickr CC

Memorial Day means parades, wreathes laid on granite stone, and bugles playing in the distance. It’s a time when service men and women are on display in their communities and politicians come out to pay their respects.

“We live in the greatest country on earth but its greatness is forged through sacrifice,” Congresswoman Anne McLane Kuster told assembled veterans and parade-goers in Concord this morning. “May we honor and celebrate our soldiers, our sailors and our airmen.”

Flkr Creative Commons / KeithCarver

The Fish and Game Department wants the public’s help to find one or more loon poachers.

Two loons were shot this week, in different parts of the state. The first bird was shot in Dover, and was found near the Cocheco river. That loon survived and is expected to be released back into the wild. The second was shot in Gilford, near Varney point, and died.

The attacks were both reported on Tuesday.

NHPR Staff

Former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, John Broderick, will step down as dean of the UNH law school.

Broderick will become the first executive director for the Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public policy, which opened last year.

The Rudman Center, which is part of the UNH law school, seeks to provide leadership training and foment commitment to public service.

State officials have shut-down one of three drinking water wells that serve the Pease Tradeport. The well was contaminated with an unregulated chemical found in foams used by firefighters.

Perflourooctane Sulfonic Acid, or PFOS, was found in the well which serves the 250 businesses and 8,300 employees of the Pease Tradeport. It was detected in levels that exceed a “provisional health advisory” level set by the EPA.

Western CT State University / Flickr CC

A $2 dollar increase in the boat registration fee – which would bring the total to $9.50 – is headed to the governor for her signature. The extra fee would be used to give lake towns a boost in their efforts to fight invasive weeds. A proposed $2 increase in boat registration fees would go primarily toward controlling milfoil in the 70 lakes and rivers already infested with the plant.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

There was movement on energy policy in both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature today. While reforming the approval process for power plants sailed through the House, rules encouraging burial of power lines got hung up in the Senate.

After making a few changes to a Senate version, on a voice vote the New Hampshire house passed changes to how proposed power plants get a permit. That means if the Senate agrees to the House version beginning in July, new projects will need to increase the amount of public outreach they do before submitting applications to be built.

iStock Photo/Thinkstock

When President Obama announced that he wanted the EPA to fast-track regulations on carbon emissions at existing power plants, the outcry was immediate.

“How are we all to blame?” asked Joe Manchin, Democratic senator from West Virginia, on Fox and Friends, “and why are we taking the hit that we’re going to be taking? Why is this economy going to be taking this hit? Why are jobs going to be lost? …and they will be lost!”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Before the whirring cameras of media from all over New England, representatives from the Attorney General’s office laid out new details Tuesday about the harrowing incident that claimed a police officer’s life and that of the suspected gunman.

Yesterday, a 48-year-old Steven Arkell, a 15-year veteran of the Brentwood police force, husband and father of two lost his life while responding to a domestic dispute. At 4:04 Arkell was sent to respond to a verbal domestic dispute between 86-year-old Walter Nolan and his 47-year-old son Michael.

Brian M / Flickr CC

Health and environmental officials say New Hampshire is entering the highest risk time of year for exposure to Lyme disease, and the ticks could be especially bad this year.

“If you have to, move to Aruba,” says Alan Eaton, Biologist with the UNH Cooperative Extension, “Get out of here for the next month of six weeks or so.”

2014 Rockefeller Center State of the State Poll

Dartmouth college has released its annual “State of the State” poll which finds support for a number of issues that didn’t make it out of the legislature this year.

The poll found statistically significant support for casino gambling, stricter gun laws, marijuana decriminalization, and a constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. All of these issues generated legislation in New Hampshire this year but no policies will change.

NHPR Staff

  The State Supreme Court Thursday considered the question, does New Hampshire have the right to regulate polling conducted by federal political campaigns?

The question arises because of an alleged push-poll conducted for Former Congressman Charlie Bass’ in 2010. The call in question refer to Bass’ opponent congresswoman Annie Kuster’s work for pharmaceutical company which made what the call referred to as a date-rape drug.

College Board / https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/trends-2010-tuition-discounting-institutional-aid-report.pdf

Rising tuition attracts a lot of headlines, but the amount that schools give out in financial aid is also on the rise.  Financial aid can make higher education more accessible to low-income students, but it can also serve as a tool to attract the types of students school want to attract, and to fill seats that might otherwise go empty. Lucy Lapovsky is an education consultant who has studied the question of how much students are actually paying for college and spoke to All Things Considered Host Brady Carlson. 

A bi-partisan bill that is a major policy priority for Senator Jeanne Shaheen has easily cleared a procedural vote in the US senate. 79 Senators voted in favor of starting debate on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which would ramp up incentives for federal and private spending on energy efficiency measures.

Shaheen is co-sponsoring the bill with Republican Senator Rob Portman from Ohio.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says he stands ready to help New Hampshire find an alternative route for the controversial Northern Pass project. The governor was speaking at an event hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Research at big universities is expensive, and the price tag is rising. At the same time securing money for research is getting harder as more and more academics are competing for research grants that are less and less generous. This raises a question: are universities that do research more likely to raise tuition.

US DOE

The US Department of Energy has released a list of the options that it is studying as alternatives to the Northern Pass Transmission Project. Substitutes for the controversial connection to Canadian hydro-power will be part of the Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement.

jE_Norton / Flickr CC

New Hampshire politicians from both sides of the aisle are praising a decision from the US Supreme Court upholding the right of EPA to regulate air pollution that crosses state borders.

The so-called “good neighbor” provision could mean Appalachian and Rust-Belt states will have to clean up their coal plants. The Northeast has already scrubbed the emissions from its power plants, but still endures low air-quality days in part because of emissions blowing in on the Jetstream from western states.

Pellergy / Flickr CC

Thanks to a $250,000 dollar federal grant a new group is working to promote the burning of wood for heating in high-efficiency boilers in the Granite state

The New Hampshire Wood Energy Council consists of nearly fifty biomass supporters from state agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry representatives. Those representatives will serve as ambassadors for using wood-pellet and wood-chip boilers.

Aubrey Nelson / NHPR

New Hampshire wildlife officials are wrestling with a proposal that would put them in charge of wolf-hybrids; those are wolves that have been bred with domesticated dogs. These sometimes dangerous animals are often abandoned because they can be unmanageable as pets.

And a population of abandoned wolf-dogs prompted New Hampshire officials to take another look at this animal that falls squarely in the grey area between wild and tame.

New England Ski Museum

It’s a given: on spring weekends, if there’s good weather forecast, by 7 am the Tuckerman’s Ravine parking lot will be overflowing with hundreds of cars.

Tuckerman’s is one of the most storied backcountry ski slopes in the country, and every spring thousands of skiers brave avalanches and ice-falls to test themselves against the steep slope. On a crowded day, there are estimates that as many as 3,000 people make the trek up to the bowl.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

A 24 turbine wind-farm in Groton has reached a settlement with the state Fire Marshal in a dispute over fire codes.

The office of the fire marshal says once the snow has melted and the ground is dry, Iberdrola has agreed it will shut down any wind turbines that don’t have fire suppression already installed. If the Spanish wind-farm developer doesn’t want to shut it’s windmills down, it has the option of paying to set up a 24/7 fire watch on each unprotected turbine.

NHPR Staff

 A program that allows businesses to claim an 85% tax credit for donations made to private school  scholarship organizations had its day before the State Supreme Court Wednesday.

A lower court ruled last year that it would be unconstitutional for the program to give scholarships to private schools, because the tax credits amount to public dollars.

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