Environment

Six New Hampshire towns are getting $700,000 in federal grants to clean up contaminated industrial sites.

The money will be used to address brownfields -- sites where the Environmental Protection Agency says redevelopment might be complicated by contamination.

The North Country Council plans to use its grants to do environmental assessments in Berlin, Colebrook and Northumberland.

The Southwest Regional Planning Commission will do the same in Hinsdale and Winchester.

EPA Twitter

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will treat wood fuels from managed forests as carbon-neutral. It could give New Hampshire's timber industry some long-term certainty.

Charlie Niebling has worked around the Granite State's forest products industry for decades. He says scientists have never agreed on if biomass fuels, like wood chips, offset more carbon than they produce. 

 

Niebling thinks biomass can have a net carbon benefit if it's harvested from a well-managed forest and burned efficiently. 

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Citizen scientists have begun another year of sifting through sand on Seacoast beaches, in search of tiny bits of plastic known as microplastics.

It's the fifth year for the volunteer-driven New Hampshire Sea Grant project.

Blue Ocean Society executive director Jen Kennedy says scientists want to collect, sort and analyze the different types of microplastics that wash ashore on the Seacoast.

U.S. Forest Service

You might see smoke rising or trails blocked off in parts of the White Mountain National Forest over the next six weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service will be setting as many as 20 fires across the park in an effort to keep the forest healthy. Fire management officer Patrick Johnson says the fires' locations depend on what the forest needs every year. 

US Department of Energy

Offshore wind supporters will mark Earth Day with a rally outside the Statehouse Sunday.

They want Gov. Chris Sununu to request a federal study of the Seacoast's wind potential.

Griffin Sinclair-Wingate, of the group 350 New Hampshire, says generating more clean power in-state will help Granite Staters financially and environmentally. And he thinks offshore wind is a perfect way to do it.

Jim Richmond

New Hampshire is refocusing its energy policy for the next decade, aiming to prioritize lower costs for consumers and to allow “unaided market competition” for all forms of energy.

Public Service of New Hampshire

A new report says the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has put $4 billion into Northeast economies since 2009.

The three-year study by the Analysis Group says those benefits have continued even as the program known as RGGI grew more ambitious.

Municipalities across New Hampshire are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of recycling programs.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Laconia Public Works director Wes Anderson about how he’s working to reduce those costs in his city.


NH Seagrant

Scientists at UNH want the public’s help to search for invasive green crabs this spring and summer.

The second year of the monitoring project starts this Saturday.

New Hampshire Sea Grant biologist Gabby Bradt wants to find hotspots of green crabs, and determine when they molt, on the coast.

“And the reason for that is I'm really interested in figuring out when we can harvest soft shell crabs for a fishery and for a seafood market,” she says.

Jason Moon for NHPR

New Hampshire’s Seacoast is home to some of the earliest history of European settlers anywhere in the country. Believe it or not, much of that history is still being uncovered.

But now climate change and sea-level rise is adding new urgency to those efforts.

NHPR’s Jason Moon joined a UNH researcher for a hike to see a centuries-old archaeological site that is literally washing away.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pre-planned outage at Berlin's wood-burning power plant ends Saturday night.

The 75-megawatt Burgess Biomass Plant has been down for routine maintenance since last weekend.

Plant manager David Walker says they've been doing this twice a year since 2016.

"Biomass plants will typically schedule this time of year, because of what they call the spring and the fall mud season, so the loggers aren't allowed to get into the woods, or if the roads are posted and whatnot,” he says.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Town officials in New Hampshire are preparing for mosquito season.

WMUR-TV reports crews in Rye will start spraying for mosquitoes this week. Officials say they will check standing water for mosquito larvae. These areas include swamps, salt marshes and ditches.

Scientists say mosquitoes and other insects like fleas and ticks weren't affected by the extended period of subzero weather in northern New England.

Via USGS.gov

Update, Tuesday 10 a.m.: The records hearing was continued late Monday night and has not yet been rescheduled.

Original post, Monday 4 p.m.: 

A judge is expected to decide Tuesday if the towns and businesses responsible for pollution at Coakley Landfill on the Seacoast have to release more of their internal records.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some Seacoast residents were unhappy Thursday night to hear state and federal officials reiterate they don’t believe the Coakley Landfill is contaminating area drinking water.

Authorities say some groundwater wells around the Superfund site in North Hampton do show high levels of suspected carcinogens called PFCs – but they say the chemicals haven’t spread to private wells.

Scott Reynolds

Only a couple of dozen bats spent this past winter in New Hampshire.

That’s down from thousands a decade ago, before a fungus called white nose syndrome decimated many species’ populations in 2009.

Biologist Scott Reynolds says since then, the mine shafts where bats used to hibernate in large numbers have been pretty empty.

But white nose has also subsided in New Hampshire.

Now, Reynolds says recovery for the species hit hardest, such as little brown bats, is just beginning.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

 

Renewable energy advocates say they want to see more communities cutting emissions and pushing for offshore wind development in New Hampshire.

 

The League of Conservation Voters launched a new campaign in Portsmouth on Wednesday to push for those reforms at the state and local levels. 

 

WPS Geography

Environmentalists will kick off a new campaign for clean energy development in Portsmouth Wednesday.

The League of Conservation Voters' "Clean Energy for All" project spans 30 states, including New Hampshire.

State Director Rob Werner says they're unveiling the campaign in Portsmouth because zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions and using all renewable sources of power are now part of that city's energy policy goals.

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr Creative Commons

University of New Hampshire researchers say warmer, wetter springs have been contributing to the yellowing and loss of white pine tree needles in the state.

They say since 2010, White Pine Needle Damage has become more widespread. Infected trees experience a yellowing of mature needles and loss of foliage.

Researchers are assessing the impacts of the disease on tree health and productivity, and developing guidelines for land managers.

Eastern white pine composes more than 500,000 acres of New Hampshire forestland.

Grungetextures.com / Darren Hester/ Flickr CC

State lawmakers may take a closer look at giving New Hampshire control of its own storm water permits, now managed by the federal government.

New Hampshire is one of four states where the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of storm water regulations.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Spring in New Hampshire means black bears are emerging from their dens to search for food – including around your backyard bird feeder.

And warming winters are bringing the bears out sooner. So state officials now want people to bring in their bird feeders earlier than ever.

Kelly Dwyer lives in a big, airy house nestled up against the woods in Hooksett. Being back here, she says, has its perks:

“The surprise of what is going to show up that day – what’s going to fly in or walk in – it’s really exciting,” she says. “And just the peace and tranquility.”

CREDIT DARYL CARLSON/KAMARAIMAGE.COM

Spring is a time of transition in New Hampshire -- from ice fishing, to open water fishing. That's why the Department of Fish & Game wants residents to remove their bob houses from lakes and ponds by Saturday.

State law lets bob houses stay standing until April 1st. But Fish & Game administrative lieutenant Heidi Murphy says she hopes most have been hauled off the remaining ice by now.

Town of Coventry screenshot

Residents of a Rhode Island apartment complex owned by Brady Sullivan Properties begged town officials Monday night to protect them from toxic mold.

Manchester-based Brady Sullivan built the Harris Mill lofts in the town of Coventry.

The company is facing several lawsuits from residents who say mold in their apartments has made them and their young children sick, and that their landlord has covered it up.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Climate change is leaving a mark on one of New Hampshire's springtime rituals: maple sugaring.

Scientists and farmers dug into the latest research over pancakes in Plymouth on Tuesday.

Mount Washington Observatory research director Eric Kelsey says maple trees face a lot of stresses: abnormal storms, droughts, excess road salt, acid rain and new pests.

"And that might explain the general 25 percent decrease in sap-sugar content we've seen over the last 40 to 50 years,” Kelsey says.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Members of the New Hampshire legislature’s Seacoast Cancer Cluster Commission said they didn’t want to debate facts about Coakley Landfill and its effect on public health at their meeting Monday – but that’s mostly what they ended up doing.

State and federal regulators told legislators repeatedly they can’t prove or disprove whether Coakley Landfill Superfund Site is causing cancer on the Seacoast.

Jason Moon for NHPR

The state Fish & Game Department is warning anglers not to eat the fish from a river on the Seacoast. As NHPR's Jason Moon reports, they're citing concerns about chemical contamination.

Each year, Fish & Game stocks Berry's Brook in Rye with several thousand brown trout.

The river begins in Greenland near the Coakley Landfill. That's a superfund site known to have high levels of perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, which are suspected carcinogens.

New Hampshire has reached what officials call a “monumental agreement” on water contamination with the Saint Gobain plastics company.

It comes more than two years after the state first learned of the contamination near Manchester, and will require the manufacturer to run clean water to all affected homes.

Saint Gobain notified the state in 2016 that it had released suspected carcinogens called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, from its Merrimack factory.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

New Hampshire environmental officials are going to discuss the status of negotiations between the state and the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics company on the presence of chemical contaminants in drinking water wells in several communities.

A public information meeting has been scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Campbell High School auditorium in Litchfield, New Hampshire. The state Department of Environmental Services has invited residents from that town, as well as from Bedford and Merrimack.

Via USGS.gov

The city of Portsmouth says it expects to release a trove of documents about toxic waste cleanup at Coakley Landfill Superfund Site around the end of this month.

It comes as a group of Seacoast lawmakers files suit to get records from the entities responsible for that pollution, known together as the Coakley Landfill Group. 

National Marine Life Center

A young harp seal who spent a month recuperating after getting stranded on Hampton Beach will be released on Sunday.

It’s only the second time the Seacoast Science Center has helped release a seal in New Hampshire waters.

The year-old seal is named Merrimack, or Mack for short. He was found on Hampton Beach on Valentine's Day.

Seacoast Science Center marketing director Karen Provazza says Mack was alert and chatty, but also seemed sick and confused.

Harp seals are born on ice in Canada and like to eat snow, but Mack was eating sand off the beach. 

The Air Force is announcing new efforts to address water contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Pease is the site of the largest known perfluorochemical contamination in the state. In 2014, a drinking well was closed there after at least 1,800 people were exposed to PFCs at levels far above health advisory limits. Some evidence has linked PFCs to cancer.

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