Environment

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Hearings on plans to open New England and most of the nation's coastline to offshore drilling have been postponed due to the government shutdown.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was set to talk about the proposal in Concord on Tuesday. It’s rescheduling that meeting and others this week in Maine, Boston, and Providence, while some of its funding is suspended and employees are furloughed.

Hearings in the drilling hubs of Louisiana and Alaska are also postponed this week. A hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, is still set for February.

Courtesy ReVision Energy

A new solar panel installation at Phillips Exeter Academy is now the largest at any school in the state.

The array of more than 1,500 solar panels was installed by Revision Energy. The company says it will provide the majority of the electric load for the private school’s new field house.

Christina Zlotnick with ReVision Energy says the continued decline in solar energy costs has more businesses interested in projects like this one.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

Andy Schafermeyer / N.H. Fish and Game

Residents can fish without a license for one day only Saturday as part of a twice-yearly state program.

The Fish and Game Department holds another free fishing day the first Saturday in June, but this is only the second time they've done one in the winter.

Inland fisheries chief Jason Smith says recent weather might make open water levels too high to fish in some places – which means this year is all about ice fishing.

File Photo

New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation is requesting that the Pease International Tradeport be included in a nationwide health impact study on chemicals such as PFOA found in drinking water.

Legislation authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter establishing the study was signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.

The Pease Tradeport formerly served as an Air Force base. In 2014, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at Pease after the Air Force found high chemical levels.

National Grid Map

Developers behind a transmission line that's competing with Northern Pass to supply renewable energy to Massachusetts will hold a listening session in Concord on Thursday.

National Grid's Granite State Power Link would carry 1,200 megawatts of Canadian wind power through Northern Vermont to Monroe, New Hampshire.

Boston-based nonprofit Citizens Energy is co-developing the project. They'll be at the Concord Holiday Inn from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about how the power line could benefit low-income families along its route.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

State officials say they're close to finalizing a deal that would bring clean water to Bedford residents whose wells have been contaminated with toxic chemicals called PFCs since 2016.

The contamination likely came from air emissions at the nearby Saint Gobain Plastics Plant. Since then, many residents have been drinking bottled water as they wait for Saint Gobain to pay to connect them to Manchester's water system.

File photo

New Hampshire's largest utility has completed the sale of its power-generating plants.

Eversource has sold its three large fossil generation facilities and two combustion turbines to Granite Shore Power LLC. The large plants include the Newington and Schiller stations and Bow Station in Merrimack.

The company's nine hydroelectric facilities have been acquired by Hull Street Energy, LLC and affiliates, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The legislature is debating whether utilities should tell customers how much of their electric bills go toward renewable energy. 

Monthly energy bills already show how much each customer pays for things like transmission. Now, Rep. Michael Harrington is proposing adding a line, showing the cost per ratepayer of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS.

John K via Flickr CC

A state lawmaker wants entities that cause pollution in New Hampshire to pay in to the state's general fund as part of the cleanup.

Pixabay

Legislators are considering sharply lowering how much arsenic New Hampshire allows in drinking water – but regulators said in a committee hearing Wednesday it'd be easier said than done.

Right now, New Hampshire uses the federal arsenic limit of 10 parts per billion in drinking water.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State lawmakers on Tuesday reaffirmed their support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The RGGI program lets polluters across nine states either cut carbon emissions or buy carbon allowances. Right now, New Hampshire puts a fifth of the money from selling those allowances into energy efficiency projects, and rebates the rest to customers.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A Carroll County judge will soon decide if a lakefront landowner in Ossipee can sell her property to someone other than the town, which wants to turn it into a residents-only beach.

The town's plan to spend $1.2 million on land for an Ossipee Lake beach failed by just a handful of votes at a special town meeting in November. That land is currently a seasonal campground, owned by Dianne Sheehan.

Wikimedia commons

Governor Chris Sununu says he opposes oil drilling off New Hampshire's coast, as the federal government proposes opening the North Atlantic region and much of the nation's coastline to oil and gas production.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants to hold two auctions for offshore drilling space between New Jersey and Maine, in 2021 and 2023 – plus four more auctions in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State lawmakers on Wednesday put off voting on the future of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New Hampshire.

They’d planned to consider two opposing bills about the program known as RGGI during their first session day of 2018.

One would have repealed the cap and trade program in New Hampshire entirely. Similar proposals have failed in the past.

The other bill would redirect the rebate money that residential energy users currently get from RGGI, and put it toward more energy efficiency projects in schools and low-income areas.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Dozens of bundled-up hikers tromped onto the snowy trails of five New Hampshire State Parks Monday, marking the frigid start of 2018 with the parks’ eighth annual First Day Hikes.  

The forecasted high at Wellington State Park in Bristol was only 3 degrees. Park workers handed out beanies, face buffs and hot cider as hikers headed into the woods.

Even the wind chill warning didn’t stop Kathy Bishop and Martha Doelle – both teachers from Enfield – from strapping on snowshoes for a trek up into the park's higher elevations.

via greenenergytimes.org

Two proposals in the next legislative session would slap extra fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, but but environmental advocates say it's an unfair penalty.

New Hampshire sets annual vehicle registration fees based on weight -- $30 or $40 for a small car, into the hundreds for a big truck. Then there's the fuel tax to cover road maintenance. But electric cars don't use gas, so they don't pay the tax.

NH Solar Shares

Plymouth will soon be home to the state's first small solar panel arrays designed to help low-income families. The nonprofit behind the project hopes other towns will follow suit.  

Solar Shares has raised more $115,000 for the arrays and plans to break ground on the first one, near the Common Man Inn, in the spring.

Via USGS.gov

Lawmakers will consider at least a dozen bills about water contamination and other environmental hazards when they return to session in January.

Ken Snow / Flickr Creative Commons

A hot mass of rock has been forming under the New England region for tens of millions of years now.

That’s according to a recent paper published in the journal Geology

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

New Hampshire's Great Bay and the Piscataqua River estuary have been in bad shape for years – and the latest data doesn't show a lot of improvement.

But scientists say there's still hope for the watershed, and they're trying to home in on things people can control.

Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

Construction of the state’s largest solar array is set to wrap up by the end of the year.

The project, in Moultonborough, will help power the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative's grid.

The array is the first energy source the Electric Co-op will own and operate itself -- it buys the rest of its power for its 84,000 customers, in 115 towns across the state, on the open market.

The new solar project will only cover about 1 percent of that load, but spokesman Seth Wheeler says it’s a long-term investment.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Eight months of hearings on the Northern Pass transmission line are set to wrap up this week.

It's the last step before state regulators start deliberating on the controversial project, which is years in the making.

Mount Washington Auto Road

New research from UNH says the effects of climate change on New Hampshire could start to accelerate by the middle of the century.

Cog Railway

A dispute over a new trail atop Mount Washington will go before the Coos County planning board.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway cleared the three-mile trail for recreation and maintenance uses along its train tracks near the summit.

The trail runs mostly in a path left by state installation of a power line in 2010.

The nonprofit group Keep the Whites Wild says the trail violates county ordinance.

File Photo

People exposed to the chemicals known as PFCs at the former Pease Air Force base could soon be taking part in a new national health study.

A defense spending bill signed into law by President Trump on Tuesday included an amendment on PFCs backed by New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy told an audience in Exeter Monday night not to be discouraged by rollbacks of policies she penned under President Obama.

Instead, she said, they should take their own action at the state and local levels.

McCarthy is now a fellow at Harvard University. She said it’s frustrating to see the Trump administration and the EPA under her successor, Scott Pruitt, try to dismantle many of her programs, including the Clean Power Plan.

Hiveminder.com

The Environmental Protection Agency has named 21 contaminated sites across the country, including one in Nashua, where it aims to make quick progress on cleanup or redevelopment.

Mohawk Tannery is an old leather processing facility on the Nashua River. It was open until the 1980s, and used to dump chromium and zinc into the water.

A new report on the environmental health of Great Bay and surrounding waterways says those ecosystems continue to decline.

The report comes from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, or PREP. The group is funded by the EPA and administered by UNH. Every five years, they rate the health of the Seacoast’s estuaries using 23 indicators.

Toppazzini / Flickr Creative Commons

A Portsmouth-based conservation group is getting a $25,000 grant to help clean up the New England coastline.

The Portsmouth Herald reports Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's Executive Council approved the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation for the grant Wednesday. The federal grant is backed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to state officials, the grant supports debris collection, pollution prevention and public awareness efforts.

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