Environment

Jason Moon for NHPR

The state Fish & Game Department is warning anglers not to eat the fish from a river on the Seacoast. As NHPR's Jason Moon reports, they're citing concerns about chemical contamination.

Each year, Fish & Game stocks Berry's Brook in Rye with several thousand brown trout.

The river begins in Greenland near the Coakley Landfill. That's a superfund site known to have high levels of perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, which are suspected carcinogens.

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.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

New Hampshire environmental officials are going to discuss the status of negotiations between the state and the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics company on the presence of chemical contaminants in drinking water wells in several communities.

A public information meeting has been scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Campbell High School auditorium in Litchfield, New Hampshire. The state Department of Environmental Services has invited residents from that town, as well as from Bedford and Merrimack.

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. 

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. 

The Air Force is announcing new efforts to address water contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Pease is the site of the largest known perfluorochemical contamination in the state. In 2014, a drinking well was closed there after at least 1,800 people were exposed to PFCs at levels far above health advisory limits. Some evidence has linked PFCs to cancer.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire regulators on Monday put off a final decision on Eversource’s appeal for its Northern Pass permit.

The state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC, voted to wait on next steps until the end of March, when they expect to put their earlier denial of the utility's proposed transmission line in writing.

That denial came in early February. Soon after, Eversource asked for the decision to be reconsidered.

On Monday, the SEC declined to take up any such request until after their written decision comes out.

Courtesy John Stark Regional High School

Communities across the state will confront questions of energy sustainability at their annual town meetings this week.

Several southwest New Hampshire and Seacoast towns plan to vote on urging the state and federal government to study offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.

Some of those towns are far from the ocean, but Henry Herndon, director of local energy solutions for the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association, says they could still benefit from new renewable power in the region.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee meets Monday to discuss what to do about Eversource's appeal for its Northern Pass permit.

The meeting comes weeks after the SEC first rejected the proposed transmission line, which would run nearly 200 miles from Canada to New Hampshire.

Eversource's appeal argues that denial didn't give the Northern Pass plan its due consideration.

US Navy

Governor Chris Sununu wants the former Pease Air Force base included in a first-ever national study on the health effects of toxic chemicals called PFCs.

Sununu wrote this week to the federal agency leading the study, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It’s part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The latest federal defense spending bill authorizes the agency to spend $7 million to study the health impacts of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs.

Courtesy Woody Little / Toxics Action Center

Environmental groups say they plan to sue a Bethlehem landfill owner for allegedly dumping contaminants into the Ammonoosuc River.

The news comes just days before a Town Meeting vote on a plan to expand the site.

Vermont-based Casella Waste Services is dismissing the threat as a political stunt.

The announcement came from two Boston-based nonprofits – the Conservation Law Foundation and the Toxics Action Center, where Woody Little is an organizer.

L. via Flickr Creative Commons

House lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday expanding the state's study of its rules for docks and other structures in inland waters.

If the Senate approves the bill too, it would build on an existing study committee formed last year. That group has focused on rules for temporary and seasonal docks.

This bill would broaden the committee's scope, to the rules across all departments for any structure in a non-tidal area.

The design and location of docks can affect natural areas and how people use them.

Eversource

The Department of Environmental Services has finished a long-awaited report on a Seacoast power line proposal from Eversource.

The DES is recommending the state Site Evaluation Committee approve the 13-mile reliability project – with conditions.

Those center on the potential water quality and sediment effects of Eversource’s plan to bury nearly a mile of cable under Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Before the state decides whether to permit the project, DES wants Eversource to test its proposed method, which involves blowing a trench across the bay bottom.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

New Hampshire residents got some face time Monday with the federal staff behind a proposal to expand offshore drilling in the North Atlantic and elsewhere.

A couple dozen protesters and environmental advocates waved anti-drilling signs at passing cars outside a Concord hotel during the information session. 

U.S. Geologic Survey

A new version of a bill in the state Legislature could require environmental officials to devise a stricter limit on arsenic in drinking water.

Rep. Mindi Messmer, a Rye Democrat, originally sponsored the proposal with what she admits was an unrealistically strict standard.

BOEM

Federal officials will be in Concord today to talk about a sweeping proposal to open most of the nation's coastline to new oil and gas drilling.

The North Atlantic and the Seacoast are included in the Interior Department's plan, but analysts say this area would likely be a low priority if it goes forward.

Via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7MMKBg

Merrimack residents will vote this month on giving the town control of their water utility.

It comes after two years of struggle with contamination in local wells, likely stemming from local plastics-maker Saint Gobain.

Laurene Allen co-founded Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, and says the local public water company's board hasn't been transparent about its dealings with the polluter.

Brett Amy Thelen / Harris Center for Conservation Education

Frogs and salamanders in Keene got a vote of confidence from the City Council Thursday night.

Officials unanimously approved a plan to close a local road for a few nights this spring to let migrating amphibians cross in safety.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Department of Environmental Services is on the road this week and next, taking feedback on a complex draft of new rules for development around wetlands.

This is the first total rewrite of the state wetlands code since the 1990s, and it's been in the works since 2014.

DES says its goal is to speed up the permitting process for lower-impact projects and make everything clearer. The proposed rules for tidal areas also account for climate change and sea level rise.

File photo

New studies say a decrease in snow days as the climate changes is taking an economic toll on states like New Hampshire—as well as an environmental one.

A national report commissioned by nonprofit Protect Our Winters says when snow falls and stays on the ground, spending on winter sports tends to increase. (Read the report here.)

ISO-New England

The nonprofit that runs New England's electric grid says it will need more fuel and flexibility in the coming years to keep the lights on without prices spiking.

ISO-New England gave its annual "State of the Grid" briefing Tuesday.

CEO Gordon van Welie says New England now has more new wind capacity in the works than new natural gas capacity for the first time – and solar is also on the rise.

Via USGS.gov

A bill that would force the cleanup of a hazardous landfill on the Seacoast hit a stumbling block in a House committee Tuesday.

The bill would require the groups that dumped hazardous waste at the Coakley Landfill in Greenland in the 70s and 80s to start cleaning it up.

File photo

The state starts taking public input this week on new rules to protect wetlands from construction and other impacts.

It's the first complete overhaul of the state wetlands code since 1991.

Department of Environmental Services spokesman Jim Martin says the agency has been working on it for years, with help from others:

“Loggers, foresters, conservation commissions, wetland scientists and so forth – these are people that work and deal with wetlands rules and regulations on probably almost a daily basis,” Martin says.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Women are one of the fastest-growing demographics for outdoor recreation in New Hampshire.

The state Department of Fish & Game has encouraged that for more than 20 years with its “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” program, or BOW. It helps the department make money and cut down on preventable rescues.

NHPR’s Annie Ropeik attended the winter BOW last weekend in Holderness, and found out it’s also about women helping women learn to fend for themselves. 

file photo

Conservationists say two iconic New Hampshire animals – moose and loons – show how climate change will reshape the region in the years to come.

They talked about their latest research – and how they hope people will respond to it – at the Audubon Society in Concord Wednesday night.

It was the same day New Hampshire and Maine set new records for winter warmth. Highs were in the 70s in Concord, and the snowless Mount Washington summit reached 48.

BOEM

Seacoast residents can weigh in tonight on a federal proposal to drastically expand offshore drilling around the country.

The North Atlantic makes up about 3 percent of the oil and gas resources federal officials want to put up for lease. Governor Chris Sununu and many other Northeast lawmakers oppose the plan.

Courtesy Bretton Woods

On the heels of this winter's record-breaking cold comes record-breaking warmth.

Temperatures are previewing spring in New Hampshire this week, with forecast highs peaking in the upper 60s for parts of the state Wednesday.

Mount Washington had the warmest Feb. 20 on record Tuesday, notching a 41-degree high at the summit.

The peak's all-time February high is 43, with an all-time winter high of 48. The summit Observatory says on Twitter those records might fall this week, too.

Rob Strong / Sierra Club

A new report from the Sierra Club says about 50 American municipalities are now working on using 100 percent renewable energy in the coming years.

The first New Hampshire town to get on board was Hanover, which says it’s nearly a quarter of the way toward using only renewable electricity by 2030.

EPA on Twitter

During his New Hampshire visit Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt signaled plans for new federal energy policies that could bolster a struggling regional industry – biomass.

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Pruitt suggests the agency plans to add biomass, including wood and other plant-based fuels, to its “‘all of the above’ energy portfolio.” (Read the full letter below.)

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

With the Northern Pass transmission line on the rocks, regulators in Massachusetts are facing a big decision. They had planned to give that project a long term contract, but now might have to pick a different option.

Some are hoping it'll be another New Hampshire project, a transmission line proposal from National Grid called the Granite State Power Link. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's energy reporter Annie Ropeik about that project and its prospects.


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