Environment

Rich Misner via Flickr CC

The state Department of Environmental Services has declared an "air quality action day" for southwestern New Hampshire.

The state said on Thursday, it expected air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

Sara Plourde / NHPR; Data: NH Legislative Budget Assistant

It’s a budget year, and lawmakers will soon be hard at work trying to come up with a balanced two year spending plan. If past is precedent, one place where budget-writers on both sides of the aisle may look for money is from what are known as dedicated funds – pots of money raised by fees and earmarked for specific purposes. But this year the practice may face serious pushback.

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Some residents of the New Hampshire town of Mason say they feel singled out by a proposed natural gas pipeline project that would cross the town twice over.

Related: Sam Evans-Brown reports on Kinder Morgan's plans to move their preferred pipeline route to New Hampshire.

They raised objections at a public meeting Tuesday night.

Flickr

State officials are warning ice conditions are more dangerous than they appear.

After an unseasonably warm December, a hard frost has settled over New Hampshire, coating many ponds and lakes with a layer of ice. That ice may look solid, but in many cases it’s not nearly thick enough for ice fishing or snow mobiles.

Kevin Jordan with Fish and Game says to hike or fish safely you need four to six inches of solid ice, and for snowmobiling you need eight to ten inches.

As winter arrives, many Vermonters are probably going to be shivering – indoors. The state wants to weatherize 80,000 homes, a quarter of them owned or occupied by people with low incomes, by 2020.

But that goal is behind schedule, even though some new money is coming in.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

A proposed wind farm in the Monadnock Region is resubmitting its application to the state. Almost two years ago regulators rejected the project.

Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

A natural gas pipeline developer says New Hampshire is now its preferred route for a brand new project it hopes to build in 2017. 

Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based deveoper, had initially planned to route the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through Northern Massachusetts. After grass-roots groups and several politicians pushed back against the plan, the developer began to explore alternatives.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  The Mount Sunapee Ski Resort is asking the state for permission to build new lifts and new trails. It’s a proposal that was stymied by political resistance in Concord for ten years. Now with a change of governors, a court victory, and growing local support for the expansion, the lay of the land for the expansion has shifted dramatically.

Min Lee via Flickr CC

New Hampshire health, environment and wildlife officials are holding a public meeting on shellfish rules for 2015.

The information session set for Tuesday night in Portsmouth will be an opportunity for the public to hear about a dye tracking study that traced effluent flows from the Pierce Island wastewater treatment facility to Little Harbor and areas of Portsmouth Harbor out to Odiorne Point. Officials say that study indicates that shellfish harvesting in those areas need to be closed.

New England Cod Fishermen are again facing stricter catch limits.

Last year, fisherman faced a 77 percent cut in how many cod they could catch, and now the New England Fisheries Management Council has voted to establish another 75 percent cut. Together the cuts reduce the catch limit for Gulf of Maine Cod from 6,700 metric tons in 2012 to 386 in 2015.

Flicker CC

The southern tier of the state is getting its first dusting of snow of the winter season this morning. As it does, the first question on the minds of many is probably “how is the driving?”

We have never been better at keeping roads clear during snow-storms, but now for environmental and budgetary reasons the question is how to use less salt.

NASA / Flicker CC

There’s a cold snap on the way.

At least one town in Wyoming has set a new all-time low for the month of November, and that arctic air mass is now barreling its way toward New Hampshire.

While it’s unclear to what extent this cold actually is a piece of the polar vortex, that doesn’t mean the vortex isn’t an important driver of New England’s winter Climate. Experts are debating if more extreme swings from warm to cold are part of what a changed climate will look like in New England.

With the discovery of an invasive beetle infestation Hillsborough became the latest New Hampshire county under a firewood quarantine. The quarantine expansion went into effect last week, after Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in the town of Weare, which makes three counties now in lockdown. This means that firewood can no longer be taken from Hillsborough County and brought elsewhere.

Images captured from Jericho Power's proposal to the Berlin Planning Board

The North Country is on its way to getting a 5-turbine, 14-megawatt wind farm on a ridge called Jericho Mountain to the West of Berlin.

The city of Berlin is working with a private developer to build what’s been termed a “community” wind farm, because of its small size. Despite the objections of wind opponents, the executive council approved the final piece of the project’s financing puzzle Wednesday.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  At 4:30 in the morning, a worker unloading number six oil from a barge at the Sprague River Terminal in Newington, smells fumes. He finds a leaking pipeline, and radios to stop the pumping, but already there are an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil in the river.

It sounds scary, but as the crackling voices over the radio in the boat supervising the cleanup make clear, there’s nothing to fear. Before every transmission, they declare, “This is a drill, this is a drill.”

Kevin Burgio remembered the first time he saw monk parakeets. He was out bird watching "and I ran across this puddle that had like five or six monk parakeets drinking from it," he said. "I'm like, what the hell is that? Did someone lose, like, five parrots? I didn't know there were parrots here."

Christian Patti / http://christianpatti.com/

The question of who will pay the cost of cleaning up emissions from the state’s largest coal-fired power plant is before the Public Utilities Commission this week.

“The issue that we’re facing here today is that as a result of increases of costs of commodities as well as increases in the engineering complexity of what we had to build, the price was higher than a lot of people expected it to be,” said PSNH’s lead attorney Bob Bersak.

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

A new study out of Dartmouth College estimates that arsenic in well water could be causing as many as 830 cases of cancer in the granite state.

Related: Worried About Your Water? How To Get Your Well Tested

Northeast Regional Planning Body / http://www.northeastoceandata.org/maps/maritime-commerce/#

New Hampshire citizens got a chance Monday night to weigh in on a first-of-its-kind ocean plan at a hearing in Portsmouth. Officials from across the region are working on recommendations on how to use federal waters.

This is a big committee. It includes representatives from the six New England states, ten Native American tribes, ten federal agencies, and the region’s fisheries regulator.

The goal is to balance the various uses of the ocean beyond three miles off-shore.

Via Vermontbiz.com

An environmental group has lost its bid to intervene in a proposal by Vermont Gas Systems to build a pipeline between Colchester and Middlebury.

The Rutland Herald reports Public Service Board denied the Vermont Public Interest Research Group's request to intervene in a re-evaluation of the approval granted to Vermont Gas.

Joachim s Muller / Flickr CC

Parts of the cod fishery could soon be closed or see tighter catch limits. The cod fishery has been in free-fall for years, but this week, the New England Fishery Management Council asked the federal government to take “emergency action” to stop the decline in cod stocks. That could mean closing sensitive areas to fishing.

Cod catch limits were cut by 77 percent in 2012, but Pat Fiorelli, Public Affairs officer with the council, says it hasn’t helped.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In Peterborough, right next to the waste-water treatment plant, there’s what looks like a giant mud pit, with puddles covered with thick green algae.

“What was here was a waste water-treatment lagoon with water depths of around six to seven feet,” explains Rodney Bartlett, the town’s director of public works, as he watches as load after load of rock and gravel is dumped into the mud. “What we have in process is the water’s been removed, sludge has been removed and the filling process has started, and on top of that will be a one megawatt solar array.”

Mike Gifford / EAB Trap

New Hampshire has expanded its firewood quarantine to Rockingham County and Hillsborough County east of interstate 293, after discovering an invasive beetle in Salem.

The Emerald Ash Borer – which has decimated ash trees in the mid-west – was discovered in traps mounted less than a mile from an infestation just south of the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border, in North Andover.

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.

Via USDA website

Five New Hampshire small businesses are getting over $163,000 in USDA grants for solar projects estimated to power about 180 homes a year.

The businesses are 959 Boys of Portsmouth, Conner Bottling Works of Newfields, Furlone of Spofford L.A. Brochu Inc. of Concord and The Storage Barn in Newington.

The grants cover up to 25 percent of a project's cost. The federal funding will be matched with nearly $500,000 in other funding.

Federal regulators are recommending a host of new restrictions to protect the Gulf of Maine's declining cod fishery.

The federal New England Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Oversight Committee on Wednesday recommended a battery of changes, including implementing expansions to existing inshore spawning closures. The panel also requested a review of the extent of cod bycatch in the lobster fishery.

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.

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.

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.

Angela Evancie for VPR

The Beacon 10 Stirling – black, with a glowing blue light, and about the size of a large chest freezer – emits a constant low hum. And this one, in the basement of the Essex Resort & Spa, converts natural gas into electricity, enough electricity to power an average-sized home.

It’s just one of the technological innovations on offer at NRG Energy, a national company that is about to use Vermont as a testing ground for its products and services.

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