Environment

Flikr Creative Commons / Ken_Lord

New Hampshire fishermen facing cuts and closures imposed on them because of declining fish populations say regulators are putting them out of business. Thursday those fishermen learned that they might get some financial relief. The federal government has declared a disaster in the New England Ground-fish fishery.

Flikr Creative Commons / Robin Presta

A study from the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service shows that New Hampshire is the most forested of the 48 contiguous states. According to the USDA study 88.9 percent of New Hampshire is covered by trees, beating out neighboring states Maine at 83.1 percent and Vermont at 81.5

The study’s lead author David Nowak says evaluators looked over 80,000 points dropped randomly onto satellite photos from around 2005 to complete the study.

Sam Evans-Brown

Wildfires out West and in New Hampshire have been making headlines this spring and summer. Wildfires have burned 177 acres in the Granite State this year, damaging twelve buildings and injuring three people.

But when there aren’t any fires it can also lead to problems. Now some organizations have to set fires on purpose, to preserve a vanishing habitat.

If you want to get an idea what some parts of New Hampshire used to look like, you’ve got to find a spot where people don’t live. Like, alongside an airport runway.

Flikr Creative Commons / clrlakesand

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has found two more lakes in New Hampshire that have been infested with milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant. DES announced  that Otter Pond in Greenfield and Naticook Lake in Merrimack both have well-established milfoil infestations.

David Donohue

This week a home-building company in Walpole New Hampshire is playing host to 21 carpentry French apprentices, who in two days are building a replica of Thoreau’s Walden Pond Cabin. The exchange program hopes to do more than teach kids how to swing a hammer; It's just one way these builders are working to blend the old and the new.

Just north of Keene, Walpole New Hampshire is a quiet, unassuming spot. Though, quiet can be a relative term when the hammers and saws at Bensonwood Homes get going.

Flikr Creative Commons / trubh

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released temperature data for the past six months on Monday. Reports that NOAA’s data shows this to be hottest first half of the year yet in the Granite state.

New Hampshire wasn’t the only state to break records: all told twenty-eight states had their hottest first six months on record, and for another 15 states the temperatures ranked in the all-time top-ten.

USFWS Headquarters / Flikr Creative Commons

Officials with New Hampshire Fish and Game have confirmed that bats infected with White Nose Syndrome have been detected in Rockingham County for the first time.

White nose was first detected on bats in Rockingham in 2010, but this March was the first time bats were visibly infected with the fungus. Fish and Game biologist Emily Brunkhurst says the disease has devastated bat populations in the Northeast.

Sam Evans-Brown

About 40 percent of New Hampshire residents get their drinking water from private wells. The Department of Environmental Services is encouraging well owners to test their water for arsenic, but unlike municipal water supplies, testing isn’t mandatory. And colorless, odorless contaminants abound in the Granite State.

Sam Evans-Brown

 

The Nature Conservancy and the University of New Hampshire are working to restore oyster beds in the Great Bay. The organization hopes its efforts can help stave off an ecosystem collapse while towns in the watershed work toward upgrading their wastewater plants. 

Flikr Creative Commons / Graysky

Two New Hampshire Energy efficiency programs are teaming up to try to weatherize more New Hampshire homes. The Community Development Finance Authority is combining its weatherization program with Public Service of New Hampshire’s.

The Department of Environmental Services is working to have  a former auto-parts factory and landfill in Farmington declared a Superfund site. DES officials are confident the site will be accepted into the federal program.

Sam Evans-Brown

 

Representatives of five New Hampshire towns say the Environmental Protection Agency is imposing wastewater limits on the Great Bay that are a financial burden. They made their case to two members of the Congressional Committee on Oversight at a field hearing held in Exeter Monday. While towns and regulators haggle over the cost of improving waste water treatment, time may be running out for the Great Bay estuary.

A Contentious Issue

Flikr Creative Commons / Jim.Richmond

Republican are working at finding common language on a bill that would weaken or repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. They will have to agree on a version that will get enough votes to overcome a governor’s veto.

Asea / Flikr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House has passed a new version of the rules that govern what counts as renewable energy. The bill would expand the definition of renewable to include thermal energy.

Sam Evans-Brown

 

The cold, dark New Hampshire winter is tough on vegetables, and vegetable growers. Farmers race the frost in the fall and chomp at the bit in the spring waiting for snow to melt. But  a federal grant program has been changing the way that some Yankee farmers grow food.

Environmental groups in New Hampshire and Maine want the EPA to investigate sulfur dioxide emissions at a power plant in Portsmouth.

Sierra Club chapters in the two states are mounting a petition drive.

It asks the EPA to look into the possible effect of the emissions on asthma cases in the Seacoast regions of the two states.

The groups contend that sulfur dioxide emitted by the Schiller Plant could be adding to respiratory illnesses, especially in Maine.

But Martin Murray, spokesman for PSNH says that an examination of the plant isn't necessary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced cuts to the catch limits on Atlantic Cod for the 2012 fishing year. But New Hampshire fishermen got a reprieve, since the cuts could have been much worse.

Sam Evans-Brown

 

The New Hampshire legislature is considering a bill that would expand the state’s renewable portfolio standards. That means more money to subsidize renewable energy.

Supporters say the measure is a real boost to the state’s wood industries, but critics doubt whether the new subsidies are worth the price.

There’s a little something for everyone in the new Renewable Portfolio Standards.

Amy Quinton, NHPR

A coalition of Great Bay area communities is suing the state and the Department of Environmental Services, claiming DES failed to follow proper rules when determining water quality standards in the Great Bay.

Dover, Portsmouth, Rochester, Exeter and Newmarket claim DES violated state and federal law by not conducting a formal public process when determining water quality standards in the Great Bay.

As a result, the communities say they face unnecessary multi-million dollar wastewater treatment upgrades.

Jim Richmond

Anti-Nuclear groups are angered by a decision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to exclude them from the re-licensing process for the Seabrook Nuclear Plant. 

A number of groups filed for intervener status so that they could file objections to the plant's extension of its operation to 2050. The coalition of environmental organizations planned to argue that renewable energy resources, such as wind power, could ultimately replace nuclear power. But the NRC ruled that their argument lacked merit, because that replacement power isn't available now.

Part of a series

Thanks to high commodity prices and surging productivity, U.S. farmers earned a net income of nearly $98 billion last year — a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

Here's the secret of the modern dairy farm: The essential high-tech advances aren't in machinery. They're inside the cow.

Take a cow like Claudia. She lives at Fulper Farms, a dairy farm in upstate New Jersey. Claudia is to a cow from the 1930s as a modern Ferrari is to a Model T.

In the 1930s, dairy farmers could get 30 pounds of milk per day from a cow. Claudia produces 75 pounds a day.

To appreciate a cow like Claudia, you have to know where to look.

The mountain village of Kawauchi lies partly inside the area deemed unsafe because of high levels of radiation in Japan's Fukushima prefecture. Chiharu Kubota uses a high-pressure water gun to hose down buildings there.

Radiation is still leaking from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns immediately after last year's earthquake and tsunami.

'Nothing Is Better'

Oil giant BP has agreed to settle thousands of lawsuits stemming from its well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

The deal was announced late Friday and prompted a federal judge in New Orleans to postpone a Monday trial, but the proposed settlement solves only one piece of BP's legal exposure from the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

WBUR Flickr

A Westinghouse plant in Newington New Hampshire is facing $82,000 in fines for workplace safety violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Westinghouse Electric for allegedly exposing workers to hexavalent chromium at its stainless steel component manufacturing facility in Newington.

In response to a complaint, an OSHA inspection found that employees performing welding work were exposed to airborne concentrations of the carcinogen in excess of permissible limits.

Hexavalent chromium can cause damage to eyes and skin upon contact.

Two controversial studies on bird flu will once again be reviewed by an expert committee that advises the government on what to do with biological research that could pose potential dangers.

The move is just the latest development in a fierce ongoing debate about genetically altered flu viruses created in laboratories at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Part two of a two-part series on the Keystone XL pipeline

Gas isn't like a rare bottle of wine that fetches a high price just because it's rare. But at the same time, no one can agree what drives gas prices. Demand for gasoline in the U.S. is at its lowest point in more than a decade; domestic oil production is at an eight-year high.

Peter Gleick is not just any scientist. He got his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley and won a MacArthur "genius" award. He is also an outspoken proponent of scientific evidence that humans are responsible for climate change.

And earlier this week, he confessed that he had lied to obtain internal documents from the Heartland Institute, a group that questions to what extent climate change is caused by humans.

A federal court in New Orleans is preparing for one of the largest and most complex environmental lawsuits ever to come to court. It stems from the worst oil disaster in U.S. history: the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig nearly two years ago and the resulting oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

Testimony is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. The case combines more than 500 lawsuits in one proceeding designed to determine who's responsible for what went wrong.

photo: Rise

RISE takes listeners on a journey of the San Francisco Bay: underneath the surface to swim with harbor seals and phytoplankton, overhead to soar with a million migratory birds, and along the coast to explore marshlands and skyscrapers that ring the Bay. On the way, this program addresses the impact of climate change. Projected sea level rise, snow pack melt and increased storm surges threaten to flood the Bay’s coastlines, including roads and airports, shoreline cities, the Financial District and Delta farmlands.

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