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

FILE

The cities of Rochester, Dover and Somersworth are considering a new way to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness during the coldest parts of winter.

Rochester was the first of the Tri-Cities to adopt a new permit on the issue. It lets private properties become emergency shelters during cold weather for up to 48 hours, so long as the building that wants to house people meets fire protection requirements.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The state of New Hampshire says it will not require that public water supplies be tested for toxic PFAS chemicals by the end of the year, contrary to earlier advice.

The state’s strict new PFAS standards will be suspended Dec. 31 under a court injunction, after industry and municipal groups challenged the rules earlier this fall.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Northern New England began an ambitious planning process for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine Thursday.

More than 200 stakeholders packed into the first meeting of the new regional wind task force at UNH.

They say the new industry will take years to develop – but it could be a powerful way for Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to fight climate.

File photo

Eversource says it plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 – but the move won't change the kind of energy that's delivered to customers.

The utility, which is the largest in New England and New Hampshire, says it’s the first investor-owned utility in the U.S. to make this move.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen is the lead author on a letter to the United Nations in support of the Paris climate accords. The UN's climate change convention is currently meeting in Spain to discuss that agreement.

In their letter, Shaheen and 28 other senators say they support and are working on a U.S. government response to climate change, even "in a moment where the commitment of the United States to address climate change seems threadbare."

Pease AFB

A major defense spending package will not include two key regulations for toxic PFAS chemicals – which have polluted water across New Hampshire.

The National Defense Authorization Act, set for final votes this week, does carry other provisions that New Hampshire's congressional delegation supported, including a plan to give 12 weeks of paid parental leave to federal employees.

The spending plan also says the military must phase out use of PFAS-based firefighting foam, which has contaminated drinking water at hundreds of sites including the former Pease Air Force Base.

350 New Hampshire Action

More than 20 protesters were arrested Sunday trying to block a train from delivering coal to Merrimack Station power plant in Bow.

The climate activists who organized the blockades also marched on the plant at a demonstration in September, when dozens more were arrested.

Via Flickr CC

A group of Northeast states - including New Hampshire - is expected to propose a plan this month to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.

Cars and trucks are the region's biggest source of climate emissions, and one of the most challenging to tackle.

Now, the region is drafting a program called the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI

Annie Ropeik / NHPR file

Protesters at a climate strike in Concord Friday called on state lawmakers to oppose a natural gas pipeline plan from Liberty Utilities.

The rally was part of another global day of protests, tied to a major United Nations climate change summit taking place in Spain.

The town of Durham has been the target of angry messages from across the country after making some changes to its annual holiday celebration.

Officials say they hoped to make Saturday's event more inclusive and less Christmas-centric. But some locals say they wish the decision had been handled differently. 

weirsbeach.com

New Hampshire has filed a response with the U.S. Supreme Court in the so-called “Free the Nipple” case of three women arrested for going topless at Weirs Beach in 2016.

The high court had asked to hear from the state, which an attorney for the women appealing says shows at least one justice may be interested in the issue.

BOEM.gov

The state has begun preparing for potential offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.

Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order Tuesday calling for two studies on the issue, due by January 2021. They'll look at how offshore wind could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire, and at how existing port infrastructure could benefit.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Throughout the presidential primary campaign, voters in New Hampshire have said climate change is one of their top priorities. And even as candidates emphasize the dangers of global warming – and detail their plans to address it – many voters aren't reassured.

NHPR’s Annie Ropeik has more as part of our series “Where They Stand,” which takes a closer look at candidates’ policy proposals. 

Editor's note, Feb. 4, 2020: Click here to see an updated version of this project with the Democratic field as of the final week of the New Hampshire primary. 

Gov. Chris Sununu Twitter

Governor Chris Sununu says he’ll fight a proposal to renumber New Hampshire’s highway exits based on their mile markers.

The state department of transportation has reportedly said it favors changing from sequential exits to exits numbered by mile – as is required by federal law.

Federal regulators could in theory withhold funding from states that don’t obey. New Hampshire already receives the lowest state share of federal transportation money.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A new government report says the Navy will need to spend billions more in the next 20 years to maintain its aging shipyards, including at Portsmouth.

The Navy made a plan in 2017 to spend $21 billion improving poor conditions at its shipyards over the next 20 years.

Now, the Government Accountability Office says that estimate was billions short - in areas like environmental remediation, infrastructure, utility upgrades, and historic preservation.

Climate Central

A new analysis finds that winter temperatures have risen more in New Hampshire and Northern New England than anywhere else in the country since 1970.

Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads - Facebook

Railroad proponents are pushing back on a proposal to remove existing train tracks near Laconia to make way for a long-planned rail trail extension.

Stewards of Laconia's nine-mile WOW trail, named for nearby water bodies, hope to someday extend the paved bike and pedestrian path over nearby rail corridors and other existing trails so that it would seamlessly connect Franklin and Weirs Beach.

Andreas Levers via Flickr CC

A judge has ruled that New Hampshire will have to stop enforcing its strict new limits on PFAS chemicals at the end of the year – but the case is far from settled.

Merrimack Superior Court judge Richard McNamara’s ruling, which was provided to NHPR, grants an injunction requested by the major chemical company and PFAS-maker 3M, as well as local stakeholders.

But it won’t take effect until Dec. 31, the judge writes, “so that either party may seek immediate review of this decision in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.”

(Read the full ruling below.)

Great Plains Institute

New Hampshire will soon build high-speed electric vehicle charging stations along major state roadways.

Officials have put out a request for proposals to construct the charging areas over the next 18 months, with some online by the end of next year. 

The state will put up $2 million for the project, drawn from its settlement in the Volkswagen emissions tampering case.

Kim Carpenter via Flickr CC

New Hampshire has opened its winter fuel assistance program two weeks early, after the release of $25 million in federal money.

The program, open to any household with an annual income below about $65,000, helps low- and middle-income residents pay their heating bills in the coldest months of the year.

The state says this year's average fuel assistance award will be around $900.

WPS Geography

New Hampshire will host the kick-off meeting of a federal offshore wind task force for the Gulf of Maine. The meeting is set for Dec. 12 at the University of New Hampshire.

It will be open to the public, with time for public input.

State regulators want more information on groundwater contamination at the Casella landfill in Bethlehem.

The North Country landfill's latest groundwater monitoring results show PFAS chemicals above strict new state limits, as well as elevated levels of the suspected carcinogen 1,4 dioxane.

A wastewater plant in Massachusetts says it will stop processing runoff from a landfill in New Hampshire because it contains high levels of PFAS chemicals.

But officials in New Hampshire say this local controversy is just one example of a widespread problem.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

For the past few decades, New Hampshire's logging industry has been selling its wood scraps to be burned for energy. But now, after two years of failed subsidies, the state’s small biomass power plants are shutting down

It's left the forest products sector with few in-state markets for a lot of low-grade timber -- even as innovative new uses for that wood take root elsewhere in the region.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state holds a public hearing tonight about a new air emissions permit for the Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack. The facility is being held responsible for contaminating nearby drinking water with PFAS chemicals from its smokestacks.

The proposed air permit would dictate pollution controls for those stacks to prevent more chemicals from settling into soil and groundwater.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Lawmakers and advocates were at Exeter’s new wastewater treatment plant Monday to call for more federal spending on infrastructure.

Exeter has spent more than $50 million to upgrade its wastewater system, under a federal mandate to discharge less nitrogen to Great Bay.

Now, the town has a higher-capacity facility with a smaller environmental footprint – thanks in part to state and federal grants. The last piece of the new facility is set to go online in the next few weeks.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire's strict new limits on PFAS chemicals have been in effect for more than a month now. Officials say the regulations are based on sound science. But the court battle against them is only just beginning.

It's spearheaded by 3M, the chemical company that helped invent PFAS. Their partners in New Hampshire include a cattle farmer, a fertilizer company and a town water utility. 

N.H. DES courtesy

State beach monitors say they're still observing cyanobacteria blooms on New Hampshire's lakes and ponds, even this late in the year.

Blooms have been seen recently on shorelines in on Country Pond Newton and on Webster Lake Franklin. They appear as green or blue streaks, flecks and pond scum, caused by excess nutrients in the water.

Cyanobacteria can contain toxins that can sicken or harm humans and pets on contact and can lead to serious chronic conditions.

Jason Moon | NHPR

New Hampshire's armchair meteorologists can train to become official observers for the National Weather Service over the next two weeks.

Winter trainings for the weather service Skywarn program are scheduled in Manchester on Tuesday night, and in Plymouth on Nov. 7. Trainings are also held in Maine, and before the summer season.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Unusually high king tides on parts of the Seacoast may cause flooding in the next few days.

The colloquial term refers to unusually high tides, over 10 feet on the Seacoast.  A series of those high tides are forecast through Wednesday. This can cause minor flooding on streets that border tidal areas, in towns like Hampton.

On Sunday, the beach town was also hit with rain and gusty winds. The tide inundated the back marsh of Hampton Beach, pushing some low-level flooding onto some streets.

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