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

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A new state commission will study whether New Hampshire should have a Department of Energy.

Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill setting up the panel this week.

Right now, several agencies carry out state energy policy – including the Department of Environmental Services, the Public Utilities Commission and the governor's Office of Strategic Initiatives, formerly known as the Office of Energy and Planning.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The town of Bow has reached a settlement with Eversource to repay millions in excess taxes on a local power plant.

Merrimack Station in Bow is the largest coal-burning power plant left in New England. Until recently, it was owned by Eversource and made up the bulk of Bow's tax base.

The utility says Bow charged them too much in property tax for the plant in 2012 and 2013. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed.

Anita Martinz / Creative Commons

A new state law took effect Monday that aims to protect more New Hampshire children from lead poisoning.

Part of the legislation that passed last year has already begun. It sets up universal lead testing for young children – requiring doctors to test all 1- and 2-year-olds for lead poisoning, unless parents opt out.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire is at the forefront of a growing debate over PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water. And many of the Democrats campaigning to win the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary are taking notice.

They’re using the issue to connect with a highly engaged block of potential Granite State voters – and local PFAS activists are welcoming the attention.


Casella via Town of Dalton, Save Forest Lake

A solid waste company hoping to build a new landfill in the North Country will meet with residents Tuesday to talk about their plan.

Vermont-based Casella is in the early stages of considering a new landfill in the town of Dalton, near Forest Lake State Park. Details on the plan are still scarce, and it still faces a lengthy state permitting process.

Michigan.gov

State environmental officials on Friday proposed what would be some of the lowest limits in the country for four types of PFAS chemicals in public water supplies and groundwater.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Regulators say there aren't unsafe or increasing levels of PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water wells around the Seacoast's Coakley Landfill.

But many residents and state legislators disagree with that analysis – and they’re unhappy that contamination hasn’t been addressed more quickly at the Superfund site.

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu has vetoed a plan to replace all state cars and trucks with zero-emissions vehicles within about a decade.

The bill would have required the state to stop buying new conventional vehicles by 2026.

State agencies would have had to replace their existing fleets with carbon-free technologies by the year 2041.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson says she won't support growing calls for a special debate on climate change.

Williamson, an author and public speaker, talked to around 25 Merrimack residents Wednesday about PFAS chemical contamination. She says their drinking water concerns are tied to larger issues with the effects of corporate money on politics.

Williamson argues a debate focused just on climate change would ignore too many other problems – like child poverty, a priority of hers.

Screenshot via City of Portsmouth

Portsmouth's city council voted Monday night to begin considering a local ban on some single-use plastic products. It targets Styrofoam and it also affects city-sponsored events in terms of restricting single-use plastics like straws and plastic bags.

NHPR Staff

The state legislature has approved a plan to set up an online, state-wide energy data platform.

The bill, now awaiting Gov. Chris Sununu's approval, would set up an online system with individual and community-level information about energy use.

The platform would feature data from participating customers' meters and electric and natural gas utilities. It would be regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New subsidies for New Hampshire's biomass power plants may soon face a veto by Governor Chris Sununu. 

The bill awaiting Sununu's signature is a new version of a plan he tried to block last year.

This proposal would have utilities charge ratepayers a little extra to help keep six wood-burning power plants afloat.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The state's newly passed capital budget includes funding for parking and boat ramp upgrades at Mount Sunapee State Park. The upgrades are a short-term solution for a problem that's been decades in the making.

State officials have been trying for years to figure out how to improve access for boats and trailers on Lake Sunapee. 

Last fall, they scrapped a controversial plan to build a new boat ramp at what was known as the Wild Goose site.

 Now, legislators have approved $700,000 for Sunapee upgrades as part of their capital budget.  

NHPR

State lawmakers are sending Gov. Chris Sununu a bill that would sharply increase how much solar power utilities must use in their fuel mix. 

The bill would update New Hampshire's renewable portfolio standards, known as the RPS. It aims to get the state using 25 % renewable power by 2025. 

 

Utilities can use fuels like wind, hydro, biomass and solar to comply. Or they can pay in to the state's renewable energy development fund instead. 

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

It's been about two decades since the government project began to preserve New Hampshire's state butterfly, the Karner blue. Since then, the Karners have rebounded in their specially-conserved pine barrens near the Concord Municipal Airport.

Now, scientists are turning their attention to another butterfly in the same area. The research is shedding light on the wider effects that this kind of habitat preservation can have.

Simon Shek Flickr CC

Unpublished federal data shows high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in a sample of food products.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group obtained details of food samples taken in the mid-Atlantic by the Food and Drug Administration.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Two of the big players on the Northeast's highest mountain - the Mount Washington Observatory and the Cog Railway – are taking each other to court.

At issue is a 2009 agreement that lets Cog riders visit the nonprofit Observatory's museum for free. In exchange, it says the Cog will pay the Observatory a dollar per visitor.

John K via Flickr CC

State and federal officials say Nashua’s drinking water supplies are safe from contamination by a long-dormant Superfund site.

That's despite recent tests showing elevated levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in the groundwater at what's called the Sylvester site.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The proposed state budget up for a vote this week in the N.H. Senate includes money to address PFAS chemical contamination issues.

The increasing awareness of PFAS contamination has already been costly for the state, towns and water utilities.

Among other efforts, the state Department of Environmental Services is preparing to release new drinking water limits on four types of PFAS.

Assistant DES commissioner Clark Freise says it'll only increase costs.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A former contractor says he was the target of racism and discrimination at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The federal suit was filed in U.S. District Court of Maine by pipefitter Brandon Overton, who is black.

His complaint names Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, as well as two Virginia firms that employed Overton on a contract at the Portsmouth Shipyard from 2016 to 2017.

During that time, Overton says shipyard employees and other contractors treated him and other black workers differently than their white counterparts.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A first-of-its-kind study from UNH shows that slower rates of global warming can make seasonal change more predictable.

The study looked at the period between 1998 and 2012, when global temperatures increased more slowly than in years prior. Scientists still aren't sure exactly why.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

For the second year in a row, Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed a plan to expand net energy metering in New Hampshire.

The bill would raise, from 1 megawatt to 5, the limit on how much solar and hydropower towns and businesses can generate and sell back to the regional electric grid.

People in Conway can get their well water tested for free this weekend and learn more about water quality.

Nearly half of New Hampshire residents get their water from a private well – one of the highest rates in the country.

In places like Conway, that number is closer to 80 percent. And there's no state requirement for homeowners to regularly test their water for contaminants.

"It's out of sight, out of mind,” says Tara Schroeder, education coordinator for Green Mountain Conservation Group. “You don't see what's happening under the ground."

File Photo

People who say they were exposed to PFAS chemicals at what’s now Pease International Tradeport are suing a group of chemical companies.

The federal class-action suit was filed just days before New Hampshire sued the same companies and one other for statewide water contamination.

The suits name companies like 3M and DuPont, as well as makers of firefighting foams that contained PFAS.

NHPR Photo

Eversource is rolling out its third energy pilot project in two weeks – this one, on solar power for low-income residents.

The utility, which is preparing to negotiate a rate hike with the Public Utilities Commission, says this proposal will be a new way for those residents to save money.

Solar arrays can deliver savings in the form of net metering – where users sell the solar power back to the grid, in exchange for lower bills.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire is suing the original makers of toxic PFAS chemicals for allegedly contaminating the state's drinking water.

At a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu joined officials from the Departments of Justice and Environmental Services to announce two statewide lawsuits against eight companies – including 3M, DuPont and its spinoff, Chemours.

"New Hampshire is taking, again, a preeminent position not just for ourselves and our citizens, but in the country ... in making a stand against the introduction of the PFAS compounds into our drinking water," Sununu says.

Algkalv / Wikimedia Commons

A new study from Dartmouth College shows how warming in the Arctic is rapidly changing an important landscape.

The research, by Ph.D candidate Rebecca Finger Higgens, says lakes in the Arctic tundra are shrinking as global temperatures rise.

Finger Higgens spent a summer in Greenland studying these lakes, which are scattered across a vast glacial landscape of rolling hills and low shrubs.

"It's a place where one degree of temperature change can make a really big difference."

Arctic temperatures have risen around 2.5 degrees celcius since 1985.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The U.S. Senate will vote next month to fund more regulation and study of the effects of PFAS chemical contamination

Many of the provisions come from New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who helped get the policies included in the latest National Defense Authorization Act.

The full Senate is expected take up the annual spending bill in the coming weeks. The provisions include a ban on military use of firefighting foams that contain PFAS after 2022.

Jeff Cutler / Flick/Creative Commons

Activists are raising money to expand radiation monitoring around Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Federal regulators and the nuclear plant's owner, Florida-based NextEra, say Seabrook is operating safely.

But the nonprofit C-10 and other advocates are worried about cracks that are spreading in the facility's concrete. They also fear that rising seas and nuclear waste storage could cause public health threats in the future.

Courtesy David Cappaert / Michigan State, Bugwood.org

State officials are reminding residents to help control the spread of an invasive beetle in valuable ash trees this summer. The emerald ash borer kills ash trees by feeding on their inner bark.

The beetle arrived in New Hampshire in 2013 and has since spread to seven counties – including those where the majority of the state's ash trees grow.

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