Environment

A new report on the environmental health of Great Bay and surrounding waterways says those ecosystems continue to decline.

The report comes from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, or PREP. The group is funded by the EPA and administered by UNH. Every five years, they rate the health of the Seacoast’s estuaries using 23 indicators.

Toppazzini / Flickr Creative Commons

A Portsmouth-based conservation group is getting a $25,000 grant to help clean up the New England coastline.

The Portsmouth Herald reports Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's Executive Council approved the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation for the grant Wednesday. The federal grant is backed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to state officials, the grant supports debris collection, pollution prevention and public awareness efforts.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Eversource capped construction of a new high-voltage transmission line from Londonderry to Tewksbury, Mass., Wednesday.

The Merrimack Valley Reliability Project aims to make service more reliable and a little cheaper for customers in both states.

The 345-kilovolt line stretches 25 miles along state right-of-ways. Eversource says it will power up to 400,000 homes at peak demand.

Eversource paid less than a third of the project's cost of $129 million, with National Grid covering the rest in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire.

Amy Quinton, NHPR

More intense storms are making it harder for freshwater streams and rivers to act as filters for nitrogen pollution, according to a new UNH study.

The research suggests larger storms could cause more harmful runoff to reach coasts and lakes.

Nitrogen comes from lots of things people put in the land – like fertilizer and sewage. Rain and snow wash that pollution into streams and rivers.

But UNH researcher Wil Wollheim says those waterways can usually clean out the nitrogen before it reaches the coast.

Liberty Utilities wants to build a new natural gas pipeline between the Seacoast and Manchester, in an effort to expand the state's strained capacity for the fuel at the lowest cost to ratepayers.

Annie Ropeik/NHPR News

The state has three weeks of hearings left before moving into deliberations on the Northern Pass project – so opponents are gathering last-minute comments from residents on the power line's proposed route.

Keith Shields/NHPR

A Connecticut construction company faces $330,000 in fines after federal officials found its workers were exposed to mercury at a job site in Portsmouth earlier this year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, says Manafort Brothers, Inc., failed to protect its workers from repeated exposures to high levels of mercury.

File photo

The state Public Utilities Commission has approved the $258 million sale of Eversource's New Hampshire power plants to two buyers.

It caps the years-long process of deregulating the state's energy industry, with this sale spanning the past two years.

New Hampshire is the last New England state where the same company – Eversource – owns the power plants, and the delivery system for the electricity they generate. Selling off the plants is called deregulation.

Annie Ropeik/NHPR News

Ossipee residents narrowly voted down spending $1.2 million to create a town beach, which would have been the first on Ossipee Lake in decades.

The contentious plan drew hundreds of people to a packed special town meeting Tuesday night.

Two hundred and ninety-seven residents voted for the beach, while 171 voted no – putting the plan just shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

Via The Cog Railway's Facebook page

A New Hampshire nonprofit says a new trail atop Mt. Washington was built illegally. The Cog Railway company recently cleared the three-mile path to the summit on its own land – and it disagrees.

Jason Moon for NHPR

State and federal environmental officials held a meeting in North Hampton Wednesday night to update residents on efforts to address contamination at the former Coakley landfill site.

For three hours, scientists with the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Services laid out the work that has been done and that will be done to monitor and address contaminated water at a former landfill on the Seacoast.

Jason Moon for NHPR

As New Hampshire’s coastline prepares for a world with rising seas and stronger storms, communities and homeowners have different options, none of them simple: seawalls, raised structures, a retreat from the shoreline.

But some scientists in New Hampshire are pitching a more natural approach. All it takes is a little grass and some time.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Early this week, coastal communities in New Hampshire will experience an event known as King Tide. A King Tide occurs when the sun and moon align and their combined gravitational pull creates an especially high high-tide.

Melanie Tata / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities nationwide and in New Hampshire, including Concord, Nashua and Portsmouth, have pledged support for the international climate agreement known as the Paris Accord, after President Donald Trump announced his plans to withdraw from it.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with climate change expert Dr. Edward Cameron. Cameron is one of the architects of the Paris Accord, and he’s now a New England resident. He will speak on climate change at a meeting in Brattleboro, Vermont, on Tuesday night.


Via USGS.gov

Senate Democrats from New Hampshire have sent a letter to the regional Environmental Protection Agency office raising questions about its determination that a controversial landfill did not pose an "unacceptable human health risk."

The EPA made the ruling about the Coakley landfill last month and announced it wasn't recommending remediation of chemicals on the site. The landfill in Greenland and North Hampton is a federal Superfund site and residents have expressed concerns that their wells could be contaminated.

Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / Flickr Creative Commons

A Senate advisory commission next month will choose to fund several major projects improving drinking water across New Hampshire communities.

More than $200 million from a settlement with Exxon-Mobil over MTBE contamination has been set aside for funding these projects.

Robert Scott is the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services. He’s also on the Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with him about issues with drinking water in the state.


Jason Moon for NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan is criticizing the Trump administration’s plan to roll back the Clean Power Plan, an environmental policy of the Obama White House.

Senator Hassan made the remarks as she toured Brayton Energy in Hampton. The company designs high-efficiency, low-emission turbine engines.

Hassan says the Clean Power Plan, which required states to cut back on CO2 emissions would’ve helped protect New Hampshire from the effects of carbon pollution.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The White Mountain National Forest has a new supervisor. Clare Mendelsohn succeeds Tom Wagner, who retired last month after 15 years of service. She served as deputy supervisor for the past two years.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her yesterday.


NH Department of Health and Human Services

State health officials say residents on public water in Merrimack and Bedford have been exposed to perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, at rates higher than the general population, but lower than in some other exposed communities.

Blood tests from more than 200 residents in the two towns found levels of the chemical known as PFOA were roughly double what's found in the general population.

The contamination is thought to have come from a nearby Saint-Gobain performance plastics plant.

Jim Richmond

Federal regulators will allow the non-profit nuclear watchdog group C-10 to weigh in on a regulatory review of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.

C-10 has raised concerns about how the plant's owner, NextEra Energy, is addressing concrete degradation caused by a chemical reaction.

Seabrook is the only nuclear power plant in the country known to be affected by this chemical reaction.

NextEra Energy has 25 days to appeal the decision.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency said the Coakley Landfill, a superfund site in North Hampton, does not currently pose an unacceptable risk to human health.

That message came as a surprise to some members of a task force charged with investigating a cancer cluster on the Seacoast. They have been arguing for months that the EPA needs to be more proactive in addressing contamination at the site.

NHPR’s Seacoast Reporter Jason Moon recently sat down with All Things Considered host Sally Hirsh-Dickinson to talk more about this.

Seacoast lawmakers want to take steps to ensure that a chemical found in water near the Pease International Tradeport doesn't cause problems elsewhere.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that two bills proposed by Democratic state Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye would add regulations and create limits for so-called PFCs detected in local drinking water.

PFCs are considered possible carcinogens and are found in household items like Teflon.

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

It’s now common for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to issue advisories each summer, warning swimmers of bacterial blooms along Northeastern beaches.

Cyanobacteria, which is also known as blue-green algae, has become prevalent throughout the Northeast. Now researchers from Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies are collaborating with the Lake Sunapee Protective Association to find out why.

State Regulators to Tour Part of Northern Pass Route

Oct 2, 2017
CHRIS JENSEN / NHPR

State regulators will spend the day Tuesday touring part of the 192-mile route for the proposed Northern Pass transmission line project stretching the length of New Hampshire.

A judge on Tuesday ruled that a water pollution lawsuit against the Pease Development Authority can proceed.

The lawsuit is by the Conservation Law Foundation, or CLF, against the management of the Air-Force base turned business district at Pease.

At issue is storm water runoff. The CLF says the 3,000 acre property is discharging polluted rainwater into Great Bay without the proper permits from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tom Irwin with CLF says it’s a problem that’s only gotten worse as development at Pease has continued.

Downtown Portsmouth.
Squirrel Flight via Flickr/Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/squirrelflight/1355544138/in/photostream/

The Portsmouth City Council has banned the use of what it calls ‘synthetic toxic pesticides’ in public spaces, citing concerns about public health.

The new policy is largely aimed at weed killing chemicals the city sprays on sidewalks and streets.

Portsmouth city councilor Jim Splaine put forward the motion, which was approved Monday night.

“We may be tonight adopting New Hampshire’s first very clear and strong position against synthetic toxic pesticides. This is a step in the right direction.”

Jason Moon for NHPR

Volunteers with the New Hampshire Beach Monitoring program are taking measurements of the state's beaches ahead of Hurricane Jose.

As volunteer Sherri Townsend explains, scientists want to know how the storm will impact the topography of the beach.

"We're just measuring if there's any changes in where the berm is, and how high the berm is, and the slope of the berm -- which is the high point, when the storm surge comes up."

A leaked memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shows he wants to go roll back some protections for national monuments designated by former President Barack Obama. That includes the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument — the first marine monument established in the Atlantic.

Thomas Kohler / Flickr Creative Commons

The town of Brentwood, which has a population of about 4,500, celebrated its transition from fossil fuels to solar energy Saturday, Sept. 16.

A public ribbon cutting commemorated the recent installation of a ground-mounted solar array that will offset nearly 100 percent of the town’s municipal electric load.

Malcolm Allison is member of both the solar and budget committees in Brentwood. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with him by phone.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.  

Concord joins Portsmouth, Nashua, Keene, and Lebanon in announcing its support for the international climate agreement known as the Paris Accord.

President Trump said he would pull the U.S. out of the agreement earlier this summer.

Rob Werner is a Concord city councilor.

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