Annie Ropeik

Reporter: Energy, Environment, Seacoast

Credit Samantha Searles / NHPR

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 and multiple state press clubs.

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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Maine In, N.H. Out for Energy Contract with Massachusetts

Mar 28, 2018
Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

Massachusetts energy officials have announced they're going with Plan B to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to the Bay State.

They've selected a back-up project that runs transmission lines through Maine, after New Hampshire state regulators refused to allow Plan A – the controversial Northern Pass project.

But the Maine project, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, also faces an uncertain future.

In Massachusetts, the announcement got kudos and criticism from those closely watching the state's selection of a massive clean energy project:

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.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

More than 100 responders from dozens of state, federal and local agencies were busy in Portsmouth Thursday, practicing their response to a hypothetical oil spill.

These exercises happen every year on the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine – but the made-up crisis they game out is always changing.

Carroll Brown is New Hampshire’s oil spill contingency planner. He says this year’s scenario imagined flying debris from a winter storm, rupturing an Irving Oil diesel tank on the riverbank in downtown Portsmouth.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state’s deal with the Saint Gobain plastics company to fix water pollution in southern New Hampshire is unprecedented in size – but officials say it doesn’t cover everything.

The deal was announced this week, and environmental regulators answered residents’ questions about it at a public meeting in Litchfield Thursday night.

https://youtu.be/Aw7CgEYs7M8

With spring on the way, state conservation officials say it's time for residents to take in their bird feeders.

Even as winter weather continues, the Department of Fish and Game's bear project leader Andrew Timmins says bears are waking up – and they're hungry for rich, fatty foods like birdseed.

"Bears have excellent memories. They know where they've got 'em in the past, and they'll routinely check those areas to see if those feeders are still available,” he says. “And they'll just start searching backyards in general looking for that food.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Federal and state agencies will act out an oil spill response scenario in Portsmouth on Thursday as part of a federal requirement to practice for a real-life crisis.

This year's drill imagines a winter storm damaging part of the local Irving Oil facility overnight, causing a large amount of oil to spill into the Piscataqua River.

Andreas Levers via Flickr CC

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.

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. 

ISO-New England

New England has gotten federal approval for a first-in-the-nation type of power supply auction. It'll let new renewable energy projects take over for old fossil fuel plants on the grid.

Once a year, the nonprofit grid operator ISO-New England holds an auction for power generators who want to supply energy for the region, starting three years out. 

via Facebook

Lawsuits are mounting against a big New Hampshire-based developer over mold in some of its properties in Rhode Island.

Attorneys say around 100 additional tenants are prepared to sue Brady Sullivan for allegedly getting them sick.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state House has again rejected a bid to give New Hampshire towns more control over their own environmental protections – but advocates of the constitutional amendment say they're making progress.

Organizer Michelle Sanborn with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund says the House barely debated the proposal the first time around, in 2016.

So she's encouraged by Thursday’s House vote of 217 to 112 against it.

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. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state Senate has voted to repeal New Hampshire's death penalty – though Gov. Chris Sununu says he'll veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

The 14 to 10 vote Thursday comes after the Senate rejected repealing the death penalty twice in recent years, even as the House supported it. 

Now, the House will take up this latest proposal to change the state's highest punishment – for capital murder – to life in prison.

EPA

The state Senate wants to take a closer at asbestos-related lawsuits in New Hampshire.

They voted Thursday to form a study committee on issues of transparency and speed in asbestos litigation.

Courtesy photo

Governor Chris Sununu says state environmental regulators will roll out what he calls a New Hampshire-first energy policy within a few weeks.

He offered few details Thursday at a conference with clean energy advocates, but he spoke broadly of balancing technology with energy costs.

“For so long we’ve had this idea that – that either you’re all in on renewables or you’re all in on low rates…. That is old school thinking. We can have our cake and we can eat it too.”

Google maps

 

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.

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