Environment

Environment
5:17 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

EPA: Low Air Quality Days On The Decline In New England

Even though New Hampshire did not have the worst air quality in New England in the 1980s, it never-the-less has seen improvement over the decades.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown; Data: EPA New England / NHPR

The Environmental Protection Agency says in 2013 New Hampshire experienced only three days with poor air quality due to ground-level ozone – or smog. This fits into the overall trend of declining smog over the last three decades.

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Smog primarily is formed when pollution out of car tailpipes and power plant emissions interacts with light, and it forms more quickly (and so is worse) on hot summer days.

But in New Hampshire, smoggy days peaked in the summer of 1988, with 36 poor air quality days, and has been declining slowly ever since.

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Environment
6:22 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Lawmakers Look To Keep The Door Open To PSNH Action

The scrubber on Merrimack Station drives much of the difference in PSNH's rates vs. those of competitors.
Credit Christian Patti / http://christianpatti.com/

Since June New Hampshire lawmakers have been grappling with what to do about the persistently above market cost of electricity at the state’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire. Now the legislative committee wants advice from regulators to see if selling PSNH’s power plants is the solution, but that advice may be slow in coming.

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Environment
6:48 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Staying Warm In The Granite State: A Guide To Home Heating Fuels

Heating oil dominates New Hampshire's home heating landscape, and propane takes up a much higher share of what's left over than in other states. Conversely, the number one fuel nationally -- natural gas -- heats only 1 in 5 NH homes.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown; Data: American Community Survey / NHPR

The frost advisories are beginning to pile up and boilers in basements are cycling on to take the edge off of the autumn chill: heating season is upon us.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Wind Developer Iberdrola Will Sell Energy To Mass. Utilities

Credit Chris Jensen / NHPR

Wind power developer Iberdrola Renewables has signed a contract to sell power to four Massachusetts utilities, and has included in that contract a proposed wind farm in New Hampshire that has yet to submit its application for construction.

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Environment
4:50 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

As Water Cleanup Commences, Beede Story Shows Superfund Law's Flaws

The Beede Waste Oil site encompasses 40 acres in Plaistow, and abuts Kelley Brook. It is closely surrounded by residential development. The site was closed in 1994, and its former owner was sentenced to 37 months in prison for contaminating it.
Credit The Beede Group

Later this month a water treatment plant will switch on in Plaistow to clean ground water at a notorious former oil dump. The total bill for the cleanup of what’s now known as the Beede Superfund site could reach nearly $70 million dollars. This site is now on its way converting from brownfield to greenfield, but illustrates how the law governing the cleanup of superfund sites can also be messy.

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Environment
5:28 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Outlines Of Plan For PSNH Power-Plants Begin To Emerge

New Hampshire lawmakers say new leadership at Public Service of New Hampshire has brought a change of tone. For policy-makers this as a welcome development as they seek a solution to the steady bleed of customers from the state’s largest utility.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

As Seacoast Development Booms, Water Quality Could Bust

While development trends vary slightly from town to town, in general development is on the rise, and in many communities speeding up
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Meanwhile, many of the stresses that threaten water quality – more waste-water, increased runoff from pavement, and fewer forests to naturally filter water – increase hand-in-hand with development. Those in the conservation community say the cheapest route is to keep water clean by putting land into conservation, instead of trying to clean it up after it’s already a mess. No-where is the tension between environmental quality and more acute, than on the seacoast, in the communities of the Great Bay.

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Environment
5:42 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

PSNH Asks Supreme Court To Weigh In On Scrubber Costs

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electric utility, has filed an appeal with the state supreme court. PSNH is trying to head off regulators’ attempts to question whether the company should have installed a mercury scrubber on its largest coal-fired power plant.

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Environment
10:50 am
Wed September 18, 2013

How The '38 Hurricane Changed Our Forests

Hurricane damage in Wolfeboro
Credit Peter Roome, Creative Commons

September 21st is the 75th anniversary of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. The Category 3 storm tore through the center of the region moving at 70 miles per hour, with wind speeds that reached 125 miles per hour. In just hours, it killed hundreds and caused millions of dollars in damage.

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Environment
5:30 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Adding Climate Change Into The Conservation Equation

To ensure that more species survive, more variety of habitat has to be conserved, which some conservation groups fear won't happen without some coordination.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

When setting aside land for conservation, what are the priorities? Nice views? Old trees? Mossy stone walls? A pair of conservation groups think that maybe the biggest consideration should be how much the land will help different species survive climate change.

New Hampshire’s show-stoppers are its great granite peaks, and a lot of resources are going toward protecting them.

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Environment
5:36 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Grid Operators Lay Out New England's Energy Future

Credit Flikr Creative Commons / Claudio Schwarz

The New England Independent System Operator, or ISO, who operates the region’s electric grid, presented the latest draft of its 10-year plan in Boston on Thursday. 

All Things Considered Host Brady Carlson speaks with NHPR's Sam Evans-Brown about the future of energy in the region. 

The ISO operates the Grid, but it doesn’t own any power plants, so how exactly are they involved with planning for the future of where we get our electricity.

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Environment
4:42 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Investment Firms Still Lining Up To Buy RGGI Allowances

Sam Evans-Brown NHPR; Data: RGGI

Results have been posted from the latest auction of allowances for emitting a ton of carbon dioxide under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI. After rising in the first half of the year prices and demand have leveled off this quarter. The right to emit a ton of carbon sold for $2.67 this quarter.

That’s down nearly 17 percent from the last auction, but still substantially higher than the floor price where it had been trading for more than two years.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

GMO Labeling Advocate Testifies Before N.H. House

Credit artist in doing nothing / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers working on a bill that would require the labeling of food containing Genetically Modified Crops heard from a leading advocate of GMO labeling Tuesday. New Hampshire is one of a patchwork of states considering similar such bills.

Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the publisher of Consumer Reports Magazine, told lawmakers that Europe’s labeling requirements show that many of the concerns raised by opponents of GMO labeling are unfounded.

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Environment
4:13 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

USDA Airdrops Vanilla-Flavored Rabies Vaccines Over Eastern Forests

Raccoons were the animal most frequently found rabies positive in 2013 in New Hampshire
Credit fatedsnowfox / Flickr Creative Commons

The United States Department of Agriculture is distributing vanilla flavored rabies vaccine packets from airplanes over New Hampshire. The packets will show up in Coos and Grafton counties as part of 5-state pilot study of a new rabies vaccine.

The vaccines are thrown from 500 feet from a small aircraft over rural areas and distributed by hand in towns. They’re vanilla flavored, which trials have shown to be a favorite flavor for critters.

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Environment
4:36 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Any Action On PSNH Power Plants Remains Distant

The mercury scrubber which came online late in 2011 remains at the center of the dispute surrounding PSNH's above market rates.
Credit PSNH / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire lawmakers weighing the future of Public Service of New Hampshire are not ready to force the utility to divest, or sell, their power plants. During its third meeting of the summer on Wednesday, the joint Electricity Restructuring Oversight Committee admitted that they did not have enough information – and perhaps not enough expertise – to make an informed decision.

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Environment
6:25 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Eliot, ME Sends Petition Asking EPA To Monitor Schiller Station

The town of Eliot, Maine has submitted a petition to the EPA asking it to look in to pollution that drifts over state lines from New Hampshire power plants. The petition takes aim at Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller station, which has two coal-fired boilers in Portsmouth.

Normally such petitions are based on air quality monitoring data. No such monitoring has been conducted inside the town’s limits, but modeling done by the Sierra Club suggests when the plant runs at full power, it would exceed sulfur dioxide limits within the towns borders.

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Environment
1:21 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Statewide Project Looks At Ecosystems And Climate Change

UNH aqua-sensor technician Lisle Synder inspects an electrical cord at the Saddleback Mtn. site in Deerfield, N.H.
Ella Nilsen NHPR

A collaborative project between New Hampshire universities, the National Science Foundation, and state agencies is looking at ecosystem health and how the environment is affected by climate change.

At first glance, this part of Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield looks like a regular forest. But look closer and you see thick, black electrical cords running along the forest floor and silver instruments sitting among the trees.

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Environment
5:43 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Durham's Third Way: One Great Bay Community Blazing A New Trail To Clean Water?

Durham Town Engineer Dave Cedarholm shows off one of the rain gardens installed as alternative an storm water control in Durham.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Several   seacoast communities have been ordered to upgrade their waste-water treatment plants by the EPA.But towns are pushing back on the question of how much the plants need to improve.

Durham is in that boat. The town is trying a new approach to pollution control called adaptive management. And depending on how things go for Durham, this could be the way the way towns and the EPA will resolve difficult and expensive water problems going forward.

The Nitrogen Numbers

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Environment
6:09 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

EPA 'Water Chief' Tours UNH Stormwater Center

Durham's town engineer Dave Cedarholm shows off one of the towns several rain gardens. The town hopes innovative "green infrastructure" like this will help them avoid expensive waste water treatment plant upgrades.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The chief regulator of EPA’s Water division visited Durham Wednesday to check out the town’s collaboration with UNH to create innovative solutions to pollution in storm-water runoff. Town officials used the opportunity to underscore a new approach to achieving clean water.

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Environment
4:37 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Citing Low Participation, PSNH To Phase Out Green Energy Program

Weighted for Population, government data rank New Hampshire around 12th for voluntary purchase of "green" power, and last in New England.
Credit National Renewable Energy Laboratory / NREL

Regulators have given Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electric utility, permission to phase out its EarthSmart Green rate, which allows customers pay more to support renewable energy. PSNH asked for relief from the program because just 148 customers are signed up; that’s about .04 percent percent of their customers.

But it’s a phenomenon that isn’t unique to PSNH. In general New Hampshire rate-payers haven’t been convinced to switch to more expensive renewable rates.

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Environment
10:04 am
Wed July 17, 2013

VIDEO: Oyster Farming With Fat Dog

Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

On the dock of Great Bay Marine, there’s what looks like a little raft tied up, but get close and you hear the hum of a water pump. This is where Fat Dog Oyster Company is based.

Reporter Sam Evans-Brown recently spent a day with Jay Baker and Alex Boeri of Fat Dog for his story on the boom in oystering in N.H.'s Great Bay Estuary. You can check out more of his photos and sound in this 2-minute video:

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Environment
8:48 am
Wed July 17, 2013

The Heat is Up, and So Are Beach Advisories

With recent heavy rains, more New Hampshire ponds and lakes have been under water quality advisories.

See a map of current beach advisories here.

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Environment
5:30 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Is N.H. Oyster Farming Poised to Surge?

Three-year old oysters grown in Little Bay by Fat Dog Shellfish Company. These oysters are ready to go to market.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Oyster farming in the Great Bay Estuary is in the midst of a little bit of a boom. In recent years, the number of oyster farms has leapt from 1 to 8, with more on the way. These gains are boosting the hopes that using these filter feeders as an “outside-the-pipes” way to clean up the waters of the Great Bay could become a reality.

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Environment
5:39 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

N.H. Groups Split $1 Million In Brownfield Grants

The site of an old Tannery in Penacook served as the backdrop for the announcement of the grant money. This site is already slated for clean-up and redevelopment. Other, similar sites will get a boost through this program
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The EPA has given the state of New Hampshire $1 million dollars to help clean up contaminated industrial sites, or brownfields. The Capitol Region Economic Development Council received $800,000 dollars for it’s a revolving loan fund that helps developers clean up brownfields. The remaining $200,000 goes to the Lakes Region Planning Commission for assessments of sites in need of clean-up.

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Environment
5:28 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Environmental Advocates, Lawmakers Praise President's Climate Action Plan

Rep. Rick Watrous and Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, both Democrats, attend an event to praise President Barack Obama's recently announced climate action plan.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

Environmental advocates and state lawmakers gathered in Concord on Thursday to praise President Obama’s recently announced climate action plan.

Tom Irwin, vice president and director of Conservation Law Foundation’s New Hampshire office, says a key component of the plan is to cut carbon emissions from power plants.

He pushed back against critics who argue this is a unilateral action by the administration.

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Environment
4:38 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

President Obama's Climate Action Plan Comes Home To N.H.

Credit Steve Rhodes / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama’s newly announced climate action plan could have impacts down the line for New Hampshire. The big headline for New Hampshire is that over the next two years the EPA will develop restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants.

“Power plants can still dump unlimited amount of carbon pollution into the air for free.” Obama told students assembled at Georgetown University, “That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.”

That raises questions for the state’s coal plants.

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Environment
5:57 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Budget Deal Funds LCHIP, Raids Renewable Energy Fund

A big priority for environmental groups – The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP – has survived through budget negotiations. But that win comes at the expense of a raid on funds set aside for renewable energy development.

Under the budget deal struck today LCHIP was allotted the full $8 million dollars that it’s expected to raise. The program uses funds raised from fees tacked on certain real-estate transactions to pay for land conservation grants.

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Environment
5:39 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Maine Town Wants EPA To Stop Border-Crossing Pollution

Credit Jim.Richmond / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents in the border town of Elliot, Maine have voted to ask the EPA to test air quality downwind of a Portsmouth power plant. Eliot is just across the river from Schiller Station, a three-boiler plant run by Public Service of New Hampshire. Two of its boilers burn mostly coal, and a third burns primarily wood chips.

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Environment
5:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Gulf Of Maine At High Risk From Ocean Acidification

Commercial oyster cultivation has become the poster child of the impacts of Ocean acidification. Juvenile oysters melt away in just slightly acidic water, and on the west coast farmers have been struggling as climate change has resulted in more and more acidic oceans.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Saturday was World Ocean Day. Coastal and Marine scientists used the occasion to highlight their growing concern over Ocean Acidification, and it’s impacts on New Hampshire.

The laws of thermodynamics dictate that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere, the ocean will absorb more CO2 as well. As that happens, the acidity of the ocean slowly begins to rise, which can start to dissolve the shells of young plankton, the foundation of the ocean’s food chain. 

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Environment
4:57 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

With Lower Caps Announced, RGGI Carbon Prices Climb

Credit Captain Kimo / Smokestacks

The price of carbon under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI is on the rise. For some time the cost that a New England Power plant has paid for the right to emit a ton of carbon dioxide was bumping along near the floor price of $1.98.

That price has jumped ever since the RGGI states announced that they would lower the cap on carbon dioxide, bringing it in line with the lower emissions that have resulted from the region’s switch to natural gas. In the last two auctions, carbon has gone for $2.80 and $3.21 a ton.

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