Environment

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

New Hampshire’s energy grid relies heavily on fossil fuels like oil and coal, and getting the grid off of those fuels will be a major hurdle in addressing the challenge of global warming.

But here in New Hampshire, it’s proving a steep challenge to get carbon out of the electric supply, without breaking the bank for customers or utilities. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying. As part of a weeklong look at New Hampshire’s Energy Future, we ask what’s being done about CO2?

Efficiency First

PSNH

New Hampshire is about to start re-thinking its 10 year energy plan. But to understand the future of energy, it’s important to understand the energy past, and how we got to our current energy mix.

In the first of a week-long series looking at where we are and will be getting our electricity, here is this look at today's grid.

You flick a switch, and the lights come on, the microwave starts, the computer boots up.

But apart from knowing that yes, there are some power plants around burning various things to generate juice, how does this all happen?

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA says that releases of toxic chemicals into the environment in New Hampshire were down in 2011. 

Donna Hiltz / NHPR

A prominent critic of ridge line wind power says such projects are wrong for New Hampshire. Ben Luce teaches natural science and physics at Lyndon State College in Vermont. He spoke to a group of residents in the Newfound Lake region Friday.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This week the Granite state is playing host to an ice-fishing legend.  Dave Genz is the only ice-angler to make the freshwater fishing hall of fame and many credit him with sparking a revolution in the niche sport. And according to the so-called “godfather of modern ice fishing” and learned that the emblematic bob-house may be becoming an anachronism.

John Dillon, VPR News

Lawyers for Entergy and the state of Vermont faced off in a federal courtroom in New York on Monday in a case that will determine the state’s power to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Frederick Wilkinson / Courtesy Photo

Conditions in New Hampshire’s White Mountains are notoriously harsher than their altitude suggests. But for World Class mountaineers this makes the Whites a perfect training ground.

It’s a windy, but warm winter day.  Fred Wilkinson hopes the thaw will make for what he calls sticky ice over at Cathedral ledge, meaning easily pierced by the pointy end of an ice-axe.

Air Pollution In N.H. To Reach Unhealthy Levels

Jan 8, 2013

Environmental officials are warning that air pollution concentrations could reach unhealthy levels in parts of New Hampshire during an upcoming temperature inversion.

Derek Keats / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire fishermen who are hoping for federal disaster relief funds will have to wait a bit longer for those dollars. Money slated to go to the Northeastern ground-fishermen was caught up in the discussions surrounding the so-called fiscal cliff.

Climate Science Is A Challenge For Ski Resorts

Dec 27, 2012
Bretton Woods

On a sunny day at Shawnee Peak, a family-sized mountain about an hour northwest of Portland, Maine, faithful early-season skiers carve their first turns on a good choice of trails thanks to the numerous snow-blowers going full tilt to cover the otherwise brown slopes. Ski patrol, in their tell-tale red jackets, say something’s changed about winter.

Flikr Creative Commons / GrahamKing

Come January, New Hampshire lawmakers will consider a bevy of bills dealing with the water quality of Great Bay. Some proposals confront waste-water treatment plant costs head-on, while others skirt that controversy.

The decline in the ecosystem of the Great Bay, coupled with Portsmouth, Rochester, and Dover's decision to fight the EPA over required wastewater treatment plant to upgrades is inspiring action in Concord.

NH Fish and Game

Preliminary numbers for New Hampshire’s deer hunt are in, and it was a good year for hunters. A mild winter meant big deer populations, and a 4% increase on the hunting season from last year.

According to Fish and Game before the hunting season started there were about 85,000 deer in the Granite state. This year, hunters took about 14 percent of those animals, just fewer than 11,600 deer.

Sullivan, Strafford and Rockingham counties had the highest number of kills, and Belknap, Carroll and Cheshire had the least. It was the biggest dear season since 2007.

Flikr Creative Commons / stragnet

The Governor’s Water Sustainability Commission released its report Monday. The report finds numerous challenges, the biggest of which might be a lack of political will.

The commission's list of threats to NH’s water quality is lengthy: too much pavement, aging dams and public water infrastructure, increased rainfall from climate change, and so on. The report estimates over the next ten years the state will need to invest $2.9 billion to confront just the infrastructure side of these issues.

Gifts for the Budding Naturalist

Dec 14, 2012

As the year draws to a close, it's a great time to reflect on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring once more. 2012 marks the books 50th anniversary. The book encouraged many young naturalists and, with the holidays approaching, we've come up with two gifts to further one's love of nature: a pair of binoculars and a bird guide.

Scientists To Test N.H.-Maine River With Dye

Dec 10, 2012

State and federal scientists in New Hampshire and Maine are planning to release a dye into the Piscataqua River to help determine if the area is suitable for recreational shellfish harvesting.

Mark Seymour / Flickr Creative Commons

Opponents of proposed wind farms in the Newfound Lake region are getting organized. They hope that they’re forming the foundation of a state-wide anti-wind effort. Newfound Lake Wind Watch has changed its name to New Hampshire Wind Watch: it has a new website, work committees, petitions and letter writing campaigns.

Flikr Creative Commons / Rickpilot_2000

A new report out Friday finds that the Great Bay Estuary is still struggling. Every 3 years the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, or PREP releases its State Of Our Estuaries report. The report’s data plays into an ongoing battle over the cost of new wastewater treatment plants on the seacoast.

If you’ve been following the efforts of conservation groups on the Seacoast, PREP’s data from the last three years are no big surprise.

Flikr / AspenSnowmass

A new study warns that climate change could devastate the economies of states like New Hampshire that rely heavily on winter tourism.

U.S. Geologic Survey

A new study out from the US Geological Survey finds that low levels of Arsenic are present in 40 percent of New Hampshire’s groundwater. 

USGS scientist Joe Ayotte says it’s been known for some time that 1 in 5 wells in New Hampshire has more than 10 parts per billion of Arsenic, which is above the EPA standards for safety. These high concentrations were found mostly on the seacoast.

But this report looked at low levels of Arsenic, and found they are much more widespread.

Flikr Creative Commons / Unhindered by Talent

New Hampshire Fish and Game is working to catch Moose poachers in Northern New Hampshire. But earlier this fall, the department worked to catch two Canadians poaching over the US – Canadian Border.

Fish and Game officials are seeking tips from the public about who shot a moose last week off of Kilkenny Loop Road in Berlin. Conservation officer Geoff Youngblood says the moose sustained multiple gunshot wounds, and tracks in the snow show the shooter finished the job at point black range, and then walked away, taking no meat.

There’s a third wind farm in the works in the Newfound Lake Region. Portuguese Wind company EDP renewables is studying wind potential in the towns of Groton and Alexandria. The zoning board and selectmen in Groton have voted to allow EDP to install a meteorological tower, which is one of many steps on the road toward proposing a wind farm.

Bob Piehler – part of a group of activists from around Newfound lake opposes any new wind project in the region – says EDP showed a mockup of where the potential turbines could be placed.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Portsmouth has always been especially proud of its Memorial Bridge, and many residents are excited about the replacement. One group is so excited, they’re working to light the bridge up at night, just like many other iconic bridges around the country. But they’re hoping to do so in a way that’s got advocates for a dark night sky nodding in approval.

If you drive a little bit south on I-93, you know when you’ve hit Boston. Passing between cables of the Zakim Bridge – especially at night when they are lit in a ghostly blue – it’s how you know you’ve hit Beantown.

Birds of a Feather

Nov 30, 2012
Ken Sturm/USFWS

Taxonomy is the attempt to place all plant and animal species in a logical order based on relationship. Two thousand years ago. Aristotle classified birds by appearance and behavior, such as birds that swim, birds of prey, and birds that sing.

Flikr.Creative Commons / PSNH

The towns of Alexandria, Danbury, and Grafton are weighing if they want a 36 turbine wind farm along their ridgelines.

It’s a contentious decision the town of Lempster approved in 2007. That project has been operating for four years, and it's the closest thing New Hampshire has to an analog for the decision these three towns are now facing.

When representatives from the Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables  meet with people in Alexandria, Grafton and Danbury, it gets pretty heated.

Wild Cranberry Relish

Nov 16, 2012

For the forager of wild foods, November brings cranberries, crisp and tart to suit the season. Cranberries are a wetlands obligate, meaning they grow in wetland soils, so keep a watch for these low, trailing plants when you're out exploring river edges and soggy lowlands. And then return in November for the harvest. Many berries survive through the winter freeze to provide a spring snack.

What's Good for the Goose

Nov 2, 2012
Daniel D'Auria

November's gray skies carry the last of the migrating Canada geese, graceful ribbons of true wild Canadians on a long-distance flight. These aren't the New England locals, flying low from golf course to cornfield.

The northerners are vocal in flight. Geese are highly social, vocal year-round as they maintain relationships both within the family grouping and the greater flock. Vocalizing by young begins within the egg before hatching, and helps build a strong family bond that lasts a full year.

Vermont Yankee Debate Heats Up On Two Fronts

Oct 24, 2012
US Nuclear Regulatory Comission

The legal debate over the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is heating up at federal appeals court and at the state Public Service Board.

Flikr Creative Commons / Mortmer

The National Science Foundation has given The University of New Hampshire $750,000 to coordinate the study of the impacts of Climate Change on roads and bridges.

The grant money will establish a network of Northeast climate scientists and civil engineers led by UNH researchers.

Amy Quinton / NHPR

Top municipal officials of three Seacoast region communities are continuing their fight against tough new environmental regulations for their wastewater treatment plants.

Flikr Creative Commons / MJIphotos

The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive Asian beetle that has killed millions of Ash trees in the Great Lakes region, is creeping closer to New Hampshire.

This week an Emerald Ash Borer infestation was found in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. The pest has spread from Michigan, through the Mid-Atlantic region, to upstate New York and Connecticut.

Kyle Lombard with the division of Forested Lands says, on its own the ash borer moves very slowly.

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