Environment

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.

NH OEP

At the tail-end of the section that opens New Hampshire’s ten-year energy strategy, released Tuesday, there are three paragraphs that acknowledge the issue which has been dominating the regional energy conversation. During the winter prices spike because natural gas electricity plants have been built and homeowners have converted to natural gas for heating and the region’s network of gas pipelines has not expanded as demand has grown.

Green Mountain Power broke ground in Rutland Tuesday on a new $10 million solar project that the utility says will not only generate clean energy, but also provide emergency back up power to parts of the city when needed.

Solar arrays are sprouting up all over Rutland County and some of the larger ones have generated a fair amount of controversy and criticism.

Flickr CC

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA finds that Atlantic Cod cod stocks have reached the lowest level ever.

Russ Brown, with the NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, says after researchers observed declining cod stocks in 2011, counts during the last fishing season showed cod populations continue to slide. 

"All three of the bottom trawl surveys have all reached record low levels, and our estimate of spawning stock biomass coming out of the stock assessment has also reached record low levels," says Brown.

Pembleton / Flickr CC

Data released Friday shows that a crucial piece of the ecosystem of the Great Bay estuary continued a seventeen-year downward trend.

Eel-grass is a big deal to the Great Bay. According to Rachel Rouillard, the executive director of the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), “eelgrass is like our canary in the coal-mine, it’s a fundamental underpinning of the health and vitality of the whole system.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Compost has long been the domain of farmers and gardeners, not city-folk, but with both Vermont and Massachusetts pushing ahead with bans on throwing away food waste, curb-side pickup of compost is set to become more commonplace.

Banning food-scraps from land-fills hasn’t come been high on the legislative agenda in New Hampshire, but with a few tweaks, towns could begin to turn to compost for another reason: to save money.

via Griffins Guide

DNA analysis of the endangered New England cottontail shows that power line rights of way, railroad edges and roadsides may help support their diminishing habitat.

The small, brown rabbit has been declining in the region for decades. Development and natural forest growth have cut into the dense patches of shrubs and brush that it prefers.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

As sustainable as Star Island's systems are, the folks at Star Island Corporation are working to make them even more efficient, making improvements that mean bringing less onto the island, sending less off, and making more use of what's there.

The graphic below outlines what comes onto the island - either naturally or shipped by boat - what gets sent off, and where everything goes in between.

Notes:

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Star Island – a 43 acre spit of land in the isles of shoals, more than 6 miles off the New Hampshire coast – is installing enough solar panels to power roughly 30 homes and a battery array to back them up.

The island is home to a hotel and conference center run by a non-profit with close ties to the Unitarian Universalist Church. Its efforts to go solar are actually culmination of years of work that some think are a model for how the future of energy could look on the mainland.

NH OEP

New Hampshire officials are working on a new state energy strategy, which is supposed to be a roadmap to a new energy future, but politics may ultimately decide whether the strategy becomes reality.

Courtesy: Tim Olson

Architect Tim Olson, from Bensonwood homes in Walpole, has a problem.

He and a friend have screwed together the first few pieces of a design project, called the Coopered Column, backwards.

“We’re looking at the plan upside down and assembling it, so we swapped the pieces,” he says laughing.

It’s understandable: there are 118 pieces – each one a big, meaty timber – and 250 screws to hold it all together.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

With warming weather comes stormy weather - but why is that? If it's been a while since elementary school science class, catch up on the phenomena of summer thunderstorms and hail with this primer.

natural gas drilling / Flickr CC

An Environmental Group says regional energy policy makers and the natural gas industry have too cozy a relationship. To prove their case the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released a series of documents obtained by right to know requests. Those indicated therein say the claim is overblown.

The release highlights a growing unease in the environmental community toward bringing new natural gas pipeline into New England.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about arsenic in well-water.

Almost twenty years ago, Joe Ayotte got a well drilled at his house in Concord.

“As you can see it’s a bit of a mud-pit, and it’s very red,” says Ayotte surveying the site of his artesian well, which has since been retired from service, but continues to leach iron-stained water onto his lawn.

Ayotte had some bad luck. The well must have hit what he calls “rotten rock” and brought up massive amounts of minerals in the water, including so much iron that it destroyed his fixtures.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Have you ever wondered how toxic elements like arsenic get into your well water? Do you know how many of New Hampshire's bedrock wells contain more arsenic than the EPA recommends for safe, potable water? If your well was one of them, would you know how to treat it?

Read through the graphic below to learn more about arsenic and well water.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

At a house in Stoddard, a Cushing and Sons truck mounted rig pounds a drill bit into bedrock 90 feet below.

“What we’re hearing now is a pneumatic hammer,” says Bart Cushing, who together with his brother runs this family owned well-drilling business, “That’s a flat-based bit with carbide buttons. And it’s literally pounding the rock.”

These artesian groundwater wells are the norm these days: something on the order of 95 percent of new wells are drilled into the bedrock.

And there’s a reason for that.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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