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Feltes Pledges 'Green Jobs' As Volinsky Says Any Climate Plan Should Oppose Gas

Todd Bookman for NHPR

The Democratic candidates for governor continue to clash over their approaches to climate change, with State Sen. Dan Feltes rolling out a "green jobs" plan Thursday.

His primary opponent, executive councilor Andru Volinsky, says the new plan glosses over Feltes's continued support for natural gas.

Feltes’ jobs-focused plan was co-authored by some of the state's top environmental advocates, including Dan Weeks of Revision Energy, Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Yogurt and former Conservation Law Foundation attorney Melissa Birchard.

Feltes proposes a focus on cutting emissions in the energy, building and transportation sectors, with a goal of using 50% renewable energy in the state by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

The plan includes a proposed state procurement of 500 megawatts of offshore wind, as well as pledges to study grid modernization, to decarbonize state buildings and for the state attorney general to join multi-state lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

"There's no reason New Hampshire shouldn't lead on clean energy and the jobs of tomorrow, and do it now," Feltes said on a call with reporters Thursday.

This story is part of By Degrees, NHPR's climate change reporting project. Click here to see more and share your ideas and questions for future stories.

Credit Allegra Boverman | NHPR
Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky

Meanwhile, Volinsky argues the plan conflicts with Feltes' support for a new Liberty Utilities proposal that would expand upgrade existing natural gas infrastructure in the state.

That project replaces the proposed Granite Bridge natural gas pipeline, but Volinsky remains opposed to any expanded dependence on gas in the state.

Volinsky says he would move more quickly towards the adoption of heat pumps and solar power than Feltes plans to.

"If you really do support the environment and want to combat climate change, you shouldn't support Liberty Utilities' fracking efforts," Volinsky said in an interview with NHPR, referring to Liberty's use of gas extracted with hydraulic fracturing elsewhere in the country.

Volinsky released a brief climate platform back in April. It includes a statewide goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and, like Feltes, a plan for a new state climate agency.

Volinsky's views on the issue have won endorsements from groups like 350 New Hampshire and the Sierra Club.

Despite their differences, Volinsky and Feltes' climate platforms differ the most from Republican Governor Chris Sununu's stance on the issue.

Sununu has repeatedly vetoed bills that would expand renewable energy use and energy efficiency funding in the state. He does support offshore wind development, and he supported Liberty Utilities' initial Granite Bridge pipeline plan.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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