Environment

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The investigation into the Massachussetts gas explosions is ongoing. But opponents of this energy source are energized, and supporters are on the defense. We look at what the Bay State disaster says about existing regional infrastructure, and how it might affect current pipeline proposals.

AP

A viral video of a whale carcass falling from a front-loader and dumpster to the pavement in Rye this week highlights what's being called an "exceptional die-off" of Minke Whales off the coast of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse says scientists do not yet know the source of these dead whales.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Nashua residents and officials are debating an EPA proposal to clean up the Mohawk Tannery, a 30-acre toxic waste site along the Nashua River.

The former leather tannery has been the focus of local environmental and health concerns since it closed in the 1980s.

The City of Manchester has reached a settlement with the EPA and the Department of Justice for failing to meet clean air standards for its sewage waste incinerator.

The incinerator, located near the Manchester Airport, processes sewage waste from the region.

The EPA found that Manchester violated federal rules requiring them to monitor and reduce pollutants released from the incinerator, including mercury, lead, and carbon monoxide.

The city will pay a fine of over $131,000 and invest in a new monitoring system which will cost an estimated $6 million.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The fight to overturn two energy bill vetoes will come to the State House today with a demonstration.

The timber industry and renewable energy supporters have teamed up to urge legislators to override Gov. Chris Sununu's vetoes. One would subsidize the biomass power industry, while the other would expand net metering in New Hampshire.

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

Courtesy dimitrisokolenko via Creative Commons.

Labor Day weekend is often summer’s last hurrah – or at least our last chance to participate in those uniquely summer pastimes. So we thought we’d go out with some sun, surf and a nice breeze by exploring another of New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods. And once again we take a tour of great place to visit, but a hard place to eke out a living.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Nashua residents are meeting on Wednesday with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and a prospective real estate developer to discuss the clean-up of a proposed superfund site, The Mohawk Tannery. The site is in a residential area of Nashua and contains toxic chemicals left over from its years as a leather tannery.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Residents of the Manchester area got a chance on Tuesday to ask representatives of Liberty Utilities about its proposed natural gas pipeline, The Granite Bridge.

The 27-mile pipeline would link two existing pipelines in New Hampshire that run north to south. It would be buried along Route 101, between Stratham and Manchester, and would include a large liquefied natural gas storage tank in Epping.

Courtesy Mark Yokoyama via Flickr/Creative Commons

Something Wild fan, Michael Carrier, wrote in recently, he said “If possible could you do a program about identifying some of the more common sounds you hear at dusk or night in New Hampshire.”

Yeah, we can do that.

So a typical evening scene in Anytown, New Hampshire is a symphony of sound. A screen door slams in the distance…a jake brake startles the neighbor’s dog…the weekend warrior fires up her motorcycle…But as the evening settles in and human sounds fade away we can better hear the natural world.

Anderson/SPNHF

We don't often think of trees when we speak of "harvest." Corn is harvested; apples, tomatoes, squash are the fruits of the annual autumnal rite which is the province of our farmers. Maybe it's because those plants are harvested at the end of their lifespan that we don't lament the moment they are cut down. We're much more precious with our trees.

Via Youtube (Link to video in the story)

About 30 people gathered at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth on Thursday to learn more an invasive species known as jumping, or snake, worms. 

Many of the gardeners wanted to know: how do we get rid of them?

Robert Garrova for NHPR

More than 100 people packed the lodge at Mount Sunapee Resort Wednesday night to hear from state officials about a proposed lease transfer of Sunapee State Park land.

YVONNE DE JONG & THOMAS BUTYNSKI

 

In the book The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, a furry creature named the Lorax speaks up for the Truffula trees as they are being cut down. The character of the Lorax is generally seen as an outraged, even bossy spokesperson for the environment. But new research at Dartmouth suggests a different interpretation, in which the Lorax is actually part of the environment. Researchers believe the Lorax was inspired by real monkeys the author saw on a trip to Kenya in 1970.

Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

Researchers at UNH say they used computer modeling to study the impact of road salts on New Hampshire streams.

 

The team found that, on average, some 11 percent of streams in the Merrimack River watershed are affected by elevated salinity.

 

"And that is starting to -- we suspect -- impact aquatic habitats,” said Associate Professor Wilfred Wollheim, one of the study's authors.

 

Savannah Maher/NHPR

Hundreds gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the National Youth Climate March. A group of teenagers in Keene wanted to take a more local stand.

"When you see the climate marches in New York and D.C., you definitely feel sometimes as if you have to live in a larger city in order to be involved," said 17-year-old Eleanor Hayward, a rising senior at Keene High School and one of the organizers of the Keene Youth Climate Rally.

Courtesy Katja Schulz via Flickr/Creative Commons.

New Hampshire benefits from the presence of seven different turtle species. This week on Something Wild we’re taking a closer look at two of the most common species you can find all over the state: painted turtles and snapping turtles.

James Napoli

Dennis Follensbee took a hike in the White Mountains about a month ago. He wanted to get away, to find some peace and quiet. Or, as he puts it, “nature sounds and not people sounds.”

As he climbed out of the valley, the trickling of water from the brook below slowly faded away. The leaves rustled in the trees. But then, all of a sudden, he hit a ridge and everything changed.

“You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, pushing through the forest,” he said. “And then you hear the brrrrrruhhhh coming through, all the way from Lincoln, and you’re like, man!”

It turned out it was motorcycle week.  The noise was echoing across his path.

Flickr Creative Commons | Steven Guzzardi

This is the inaugural edition of a new segment we’ll be doing every other Friday on Morning Edition: “Ask Sam” in which NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the outdoors for our listeners.

Do Drought Conditions Affect Fall foliage?

Oh my gosh, Stephanie, Isn’t it a bit early to already be having fall foliage anxiety‽

SANBORN HEAD

An environmental group is challenging state approval of an expansion plan at the region’s largest landfill – Turnkey in Rochester.

The Conservation Law Foundation filed the appeal with New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services Wednesday.

It reiterates earlier arguments that expanding Turnkey Landfill goes against a state policy of trying to reduce waste. And it says the landfill’s owner, Waste Management, should address potential water contamination around the landfill before getting to expand it.

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

A team of researchers is sampling lakes across the Northeast this week as part of efforts to better understand what’s causing cyanobacteria blooms.

The blooms have become common in other parts of the country, including the Midwest, and are starting to pop up locally in New Hampshire and surrounding states. Scientists are unsure what’s driving the change.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu was on the Seacoast today, signing two bills dealing with chemical contamination and health risks. 

One bill could lead to stricter limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water.  

Sununu spoke at Jenness Beach in Rye, near the Coakley Landfill Superfund site and Pease Tradeport.

Both are PFAS hotspots that have raised health concerns for neighbors.  

Evans-Brown/NHPR.

Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown, joined us in the field this week at Something Wild. We were in Sutton, NH tracking some turkey vulture chicks, because Dave discovered some vultures living among the rocks in a nearby cliff-face.

Cities and towns across the state are struggling to keep their recycling programs afloat with rising costs of disposing material. 

But there is one exception, and that's the town of Derry. 

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Mike Fowler, the director of the Public Works Department for the town.


Courtesy of Colleen P of Newington via Flickr/Creative Commons.

In this part of the country the Corvid family includes blue jays, gray jays, crows, and ravens. And ravens – Corvus corax – are the smartest of this intelligent family, actually their brain to body ratio is on par with whales and the great apes. 

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

A long-running debate is heating up on top of New Hampshire's highest peak. It’s attracting more visitors every year, but some fear its delicate ecosystems are at risk from proposed development and overuse. 

Scroll to the bottom of this story to see a timeline of the history of development on Mount Washington.

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

 

Courtesy Louise LeCLerc via Flickr/Creative Common

First Bitten is our periodic series at Something Wild where we study the people who study nature, and what set them on the path to do that. And this time around our two subjects under the microscope trace their love of nature back to their parents's nurture, specifically their fathers. 

Ron Davis grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Not a place known for for its lakes or streams or for vast expanses of wilderness; not a place you'd expect to find a future biologist. But that's where he started, "and because of the Second World War my love of nature became greatly enhanced."

 

Smithsonian's National Zoo via Flickr

The porcupine’s only real predator is the fisher. It takes a tough critter to eat a porcupine. Even coyotes, one of the state's apex predators, instinctually knows to leave porcupines alone – a trait that is sadly not shared by their domestic cousin, who rack up vet bills to have quills removed from their snouts.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Neighbors of the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in Greenland are optimistic the site may see further cleanup.

They met privately with top Environmental Protection Agency officials Monday.

The group held a press conference at the edge of a brook that runs alongside the landfill and contains high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals.

“While this may have been called an emerging issue some time ago, it is now a top priority issue for the U.S. EPA,” said New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn.

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