Environment

Flikr Creative Commons / Claudio Schwarz

New Hampshire's largest utility hopes regulators will revisit two big energy proposals – one dealing with natural gas and the other with Northern Pass – in the wake of a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The utility's filings this week seek to revive two 2016 cases where the Public Utilities Commission applied a view of the state law restructuring the electric industry that the Supreme Court overturned in May.

Screenshot via office of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin planning emergency dredging of Hampton Harbor over the next year.

The Army Corps' 2018 Work Plan includes $275,000 for planning work ahead of dredging.

The funds will let the Corps assess dredging conditions and draw up a contract for the project.

New Hampshire's Congressional delegation has been pushing since last year for the harbor to be dredged.

LPC

This summer, the state is paying anglers to give up their lead fishing tackle, in an effort to protect loons from lead poisoning. 

Loons are a threatened species that’s iconic in New England. They can eat lead sinkers or jigs inside fish, or they might ingest bits of lead among the pebbles they swallow to help digest food.

“The smallest little split shot that you can imagine, if it’s ingested by a loon, is going to kill that bird within two to four weeks,” says Harry Vogel, the executive director of the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough.

NHDES

State environmental regulators will ask a North Hampton car wash to change how it disposes of used water, after testing showed high levels of potential toxins.

The investigation comes after two types of contaminants – PFAS and 1,4 dioxane – were found last year in a North Hampton well that served Seacoast residents.

The pollutants were under state limits, but Brendan Kernen of the state’s drinking water protection bureau says the well's operator, Aquarion, shut it off anyway.

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.

City of Nashua

The city of Nashua is moving forward in its plan to reduce its carbon footprint.  

The Solarize+ campaign covers Nashua and Hudson, and runs through the end of August.

The city is working with two New Hampshire companies to offer residents and businesses discounts on clean energy upgrades – like solar installations, battery storage and energy efficiency audits.

Madeline Mineau of the city’s energy committee says the more sign-ups they get, the bigger the discounts will be.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Environmental Protection Agency will meet Monday with residents who live near the Coakley Landfill Superfund site on the Seacoast.

An EPA spokesman says the agency’s New England administrator, the new head of the Superfund task force and others will be in Greenland to fulfill a promise to talk with neighbors about their concerns.

People who live and work on New Hampshire's lakes will gather this week for their annual conference.

Andrea LaMoreaux vice president of New Hampshire Lakes. She says their annual Lakes Congress lets lakeside residents connect with scientists and regulators.

"We're all coming together to talk about not only how great our lakes are and celebrate them, but say hey, if in 25 years we want our lakes to be healthy, we really need to address some major threats," she says.

U.S. Forest Service

The last prescribed burns of the year are set for this week in the White Mountain National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service has been setting fires since April all across the forest area in New Hampshire and Maine.

The controlled burns are a way of restoring habitat and reducing the risk of wildfires.

Weather permitting, North Country residents might see smoke or roads closed in parts of the forest on Wednesday and Thursday.

Burn season must end after May 31, when nesting season for the protected northern long-eared bat begins.

NHPR File Photo

Governor Chris Sununu has signaled he’ll sign a pair of energy-related bills approved by legislators at the end of session last week.

One gives lawmakers control of the system benefits charge. That's a small fee on energy bills that helps pay for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income ratepayers.

Legislators also voted to tell utilities to list the costs of complying with renewable energy standards on electric bills.

Sununu says that will help consumers understand what’s behind New Hampshire’s high energy rates, which are some of the highest in the country.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State regulators voted unanimously Thursday not to give Eversource a new hearing for its Northern Pass power line proposal.

That means the case, which has stretched for nearly a decade, will likely go before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Southern New Hampshire residents had a lot of questions for Liberty Utilities Wednesday night at the public unveiling of a proposed natural gas pipeline.

The project is called the Granite Bridge. It would be buried along Route 101 between Stratham and Manchester, with a large liquefied natural gas storage tank in Epping.

Liberty says it needs the 27-mile, $340-million project to meet growing demand and expand natural gas service for commercial, industrial and residential customers.

Liberty Utilities' natural gas pipeline proposal gets its first close-up with the public tonight in Epping.

The company will hold an open house to answer questions about the project, known as Granite Bridge.  

The 27-mile proposed pipeline would run underground along Route 101 from Stratham to Manchester. Liberty also wants to build a liquefied natural gas storage facility in an empty quarry in Epping.

Wednesday’s open house marks the start of public input on the project, as Liberty works to get Granite Bridge approved.

Consumer Energy / Flicker CC

The New Hampshire Supreme Court says electric utilities like Eversource should be allowed to invest in natural gas pipelines.

Tuesday’s ruling reverses a 2016 order by the state Public Utilities Commission.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency will develop new regulations on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water. The substances, called PFAS, have been a problem on New Hampshire's Seacoast and elsewhere.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said at a summit on PFAS in Washington on Tuesday that they’ll talk about the issue in Portsmouth next month.

New Hampshire environmental regulators joined officials from at least 30 other states and tribes at the summit.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Rising costs and limited markets are putting pressure on the recycling business in New Hampshire and the rest of the region.

At the Northeast Resource Recovery Association's conference in Manchester this week, China is high on the list of worries.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

Local water regulators from around the state will be in Concord on Thursday to talk about risks facing New Hampshire's drinking water system.

The state organizes the annual conference, focused on sustaining and protecting the state’s groundwater, with the American Ground Water Trust, a national nonprofit based in Concord.

The group’s executive director, Andrew Stone, says New Hampshire relies more on private or community wells than almost any other state – which makes safeguarding water supplies tricky.

Jim Peaco / NPS

New Hampshire’s U.S. senators are criticizing the Trump administration for reportedly blocking the release of new data about chemicals called PFCs, which have raised contamination concerns in the state.

Emails obtained by Politico reportedly show White House and Environmental Protection Agency officials citing public relations fears in delaying publication of a PFC study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sargent Corporation

Environmentalists are suing over alleged water pollution at a North Country landfill.

The federal lawsuit, filed Monday against landfill owner Casella, comes from the Conservation Law Foundation and Toxics Action Center.

Annie Ropiek for NHPR

Residents in and around Merrimack are nearing the end of a two-year struggle with contaminated drinking water.

Hundreds of private water wells near the Saint Gobain plastics factory have been contaminated during that time with suspected carcinogens called PFCs

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Opponents of the Northern Pass power project are pushing back on developer Eversource’s request for a new hearing before state regulators.

The utility has argued the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee didn’t give the embattled power line proposal its due consideration before denying it a building permit earlier this year.

They want the SEC to set a new hearing and consider more specific conditions that could green-light the project.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is offering grants to coastal communities looking to better prepare for the effects of climate change.

A total amount of $200,000 is available to towns, state agencies, and private groups.  

Winning projects in the past have included everything from infrastructure projects, to flood plain studies, to educational outreach programs.

File photo / Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New England’s power grid operator is getting pushback on a study that said some worst-case scenarios could lead to rolling blackouts in the region by 2024.

FILE

Hundreds of people in a New Hampshire town have signed a petition asking a plastics company believed to be the source of tainted groundwater to pay for water filters at the town's schools.

The group of Merrimack residents says Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has provided filtration in other towns with contaminated water, but taxpayers are currently paying to filter water at Merrimack schools.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Energy leaders from around New England met in Manchester Friday to brainstorm how to keep the region’s lights on at a reasonable price long-term.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan was in Nashua Friday to tout her proposed study on the renewable energy practice of net metering, which lets ratepayers offset their bills by selling power they generate back into the grid.

It’s commonly used for homeowners to save on energy costs with rooftop solar panels, but it’s possible with bigger customers and energy developments, too – depending on state laws.

Hassan, a Democrat, wants the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue, so states like New Hampshire can fine-tune those rules.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Supporters of Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line want to remove two evaluators from the appeal process for the project’s state permit.

A group of business and union stakeholders made the request to the state Site Evaluation Committee this week.

The business group wants Public Utilities Commission member Kathryn Bailey and public representative Patricia Weathersby to recuse themselves from future Northern Pass proceedings at the SEC.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A state representative's plan to spur more clean-up at the Seacoast's Coakley Landfill Superfund site may be scaled back after a Senate vote Thursday.

The original proposal would have gotten the state involved in forcing the entities responsible for the pollution to pay for more thorough cleanup. 

That measure passed the state House last month.

But the Senate opted for what the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mindi Messmer, calls a “stripped-down version.”

creative commons

The New Hampshire Senate Thursday put an end to one effort to expand energy efficiency funding in the state.

They voted down a bill regarding how the state spends money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

The proposal, which had passed the House, would have gotten rid of the RGGI rebate for residential ratepayers.

Selbe B via Flickr CC

Coos County officials have sided with the Mount Washington Cog Railway in a dispute over a trail near the summit – but the fight is far from over.

The Coos County planning board says the Cog didn't need a permit to clear the trail on its property, as long as it's used for maintenance and recreation.

They say it will need a permit if it's ever used commercially, but it's still not clear what that means.

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