Annie Ropeik

Reporter: Energy, Environment, Development

Annie Ropeik joined NHPR’s reporting team in 2017, following stints with public radio stations and collaborations across the country. She has reported everywhere from fishing boats, island villages and cargo terminals in Alaska, to cornfields, factories and Superfund sites in the Midwest.

Her work has appeared on NPR, the BBC and CNN, and earned recognition from PRNDI, the Delaware and Alaska Press Clubs and the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists.

Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Annie caught the public media bug during internships at NPR in Washington and WBUR in Boston. She studied classics at Boston University and enjoys a good PDF, the rule of threes and meeting other people’s dogs.

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Town meeting voters in Bethlehem have rejected a plan to expand a North Country landfill. 

 

The Casella-owned facility serves a large part of the region and is on track to fill up by 2021. 

 

Jim McCann was one of about 600 Bethlehem residents who voted against the expansion proposal, with about 500 residents voting for it. This is the second year in a row the matter has been up for a vote.  McCann says he wants to see his small town diversify its economy, not invest in the landfill.

 

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.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state House of Representatives put transgender rights one step away from the governor's desk Wednesday.

Lawmakers voted 195-129 to send the Senate a bill adding gender identity to existing state anti-discrimination laws.

New Hampshire would be the last New England state to do so.

NHPR File Photo

 

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill that would kick-start further cleanup of the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in North Hampton. 

 

Lawmakers on Wednesday voted against a committee’s recommendation that the idea be studied further. Then, they passed the bill, 207 to 118. 

 

The measure tells the state Department of Environmental Services to spur remediation at Coakley by getting money from the towns and other entities responsible for the pollution. 

 

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.

Britta Greene / NHPR

A state commission says a contentious site on Lake Sunapee isn’t the right place for a new boat ramp, capping nearly 30 years of debate over the state-owned Wild Goose property.

The Lake Sunapee Public Boat Access Development Commission acknowledges in its report to the governor that the lake needs more public deep-water boat access and trailer parking.

But they say the Wild Goose site isn't the safest or cheapest place to build it.

A few commission members disagree, saying traffic upgrades would make Wild Goose work.

Cog Railway

The Coos County planning board is giving the Cog Railway more time to respond to complaints about a new trail along its tracks on Mount Washington.

The board met Wednesday night to discuss what the conservationists says is an un-permitted road near the summit.

Chris Magness is president of Keep the Whites Wild, and says the board wants to know how the railway will use the road.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Eversource is asking New Hampshire regulators to reconsider their rejection of the Northern Pass project.

The utility filed a motion Wednesday with the state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC. It wants the committee’s Feb. 1 denial of the project thrown out and the case re-heard. Eversource argues the SEC didn’t do its required diligence in discussing all the criteria the project had to meet to get a permit. 

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.

Courtesy Brady Sullivan

New Hampshire-based developer Brady Sullivan is facing new lawsuits over severe mold in a Rhode Island apartment building.

The complaints are from current and former tenants of the Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry. They allege Brady Sullivan ignored their complaints as mold spread, causing serious chronic health problems.

Brady Sullivan denies the allegations. In a statement, spokeswoman Patti Doyle says the company is currently assessing safety issues at five units in Harris Mill.

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.

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.

File photo

Massachusetts has picked another big transmission line for a potential energy contract, with the Northern Pass project in doubt.

That new project is New England Clean Energy Connect, which would bring Canadian hydropower through Maine.

Massachusetts regulators announced late Friday they would start negotiating a contract with the project's developer, Central Maine Power Company.

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.)

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt was in New Hampshire Tuesday for an unpublicized private meeting with Gov. Chris Sununu.

Sununu spokesman Ben Vihstadt confirmed Sununu and Pruitt met privately in the morning, and said they had no other "stops scheduled later" in the day.

A statement from Sununu sent Tuesday afternoon says the two discussed the Coakley Landfill Superfund site, where the EPA plans to test bedrock to see if contamination is spreading in the local water supply. 

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