Coronavirus Coverage - Environment | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - Environment

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COVID-19 has been hard on just about every industry in New Hampshire, and renewable energy is no exception. 

People worried about money are putting off investing in solar panels, and health concerns have made home energy efficiency visits more complicated. But scientists say investments like these can lower energy costs, and remain a critical way to combat the other big crisis we’re facing – climate change. 

As part of NHPR’s new climate change reporting project, By Degrees, NHPR’s Annie Ropeik has been trying to find out what might be ahead for the renewable energy industry in the state. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about what’s next.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State officials are urging swimmers to be careful in unsupervised areas after a series of river drownings, amid pool closures and beach restrictions.

At a press conference on the Merrimack River in Concord Friday morning, Fish & Game Col. Kevin Jordan said New Hampshire averages 13 to 15 deadly drownings a year.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Reusable shopping bags will be allowed again at New Hampshire grocery stores, after Gov. Chris Sununu lifted the state’s COVID-19 ban on reusable bags Monday.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Massachusetts recently announced that it was ending its pandemic moratorium on reusable shopping bags, saying towns could go back to reinforcing their bans on single-use plastic bags. 

Meanwhile, New Hampshire and many other states are still not letting shoppers bring their reusable bags to stores. But is that actually helping to slow the spread of coronavirus?


Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Our new climate change reporting initiative, By Degrees, begins in an unprecedented time – one where people are making seismic shifts in their lifestyles and attitudes in response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Many of our listeners have wondered: why haven’t people reacted the same way to the climate emergency, and could that be about to change? 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Near-drought conditions in southern New Hampshire are straining vegetable farmers in the midst of planting season, after more than a month without substantial rainfall.

The state expects to soon declare a drought in the southern tier and lower Lakes Region, after an abnormally dry spring and a winter without much snow to recharge streams and groundwater.

Flickr

We discuss what this summer will look like for New Hampshire's state parks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While record numbers of Granite Staters are heading to the parks to seek out local recreation, new social distancing guidelines and other protocols mean that the experience will be different this year. We chat with the state parks director about how he and his staff are preparing.   

Air date: Thursday, June 18, 2020. 

Ed Meyer / Dartmouth

New Hampshire colleges will likely continue with some aspects of virtual learning when students return to campuses this fall. It's a particular challenge for disciplines like earth science, which rely on field trips and physical lab work.

NHPR

More septic systems in New Hampshire are failing, and the pandemic may be to blame.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says it received more replacement applications in May of this year than in May of 2019.

Steve and Michelle Gerdes / Flicker CC

Advocates are calling on New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to support job training for clean energy projects as part of COVID-19 economic recovery.

Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas joined state nonprofits for a roundtable on the issue Friday.

The lawmakers and their Senate colleagues have joined recent calls for renewable energy investment in upcoming stimulus bills. 

Donna Hiltz / NHPR

Members of Congress from New Hampshire are joining a call for clean energy workforce investment as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined nearly 60 other Democrats, led by lawmakers from New York and New Mexico, who sent a letter on the issue to Congressional leadership this week.

The letter cites research showing the clean energy sector could lose nearly a quarter of its jobs to the pandemic in the near term.

photon_de via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/57BSet

With more time at home, many New Hampshire residents are taking up gardening. But some gardening supplies are in short supply.

Dave Short, owner of the Stratham Circle Nursery, says his business is booming.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and haven’t seen anything like this,” Short says.

He says the demand for plants is up in every category, in particular, edible plants like fruits and vegetables. He thinks people have a survivalist mentality right now.

wikimedia commons

State water regulators say New Hampshire businesses may need to flush their pipes as they reopen for the first time since March.

The Department of Environmental Services says water may have stagnated in pipes that got little or no use in recent weeks.  This can lead to unsafe levels of lead and copper or conditions where bacteria like Legionella can grow.

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Annie Ropeik / NHPR

When New Hampshire reopens parts of its economy in the next couple of weeks, the public beaches on the Seacoast will stay closed. It's sparked debate in seaside towns like Rye over what restrictions are warranted.


BOEM.gov

A fishing industry group wants New Hampshire and neighboring states to put off planning offshore wind development during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA, sent a letter to the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts on Tuesday. The group represents the fishing industry in states with offshore wind development.

Courtesty of Wilmington, Mass.

The city of Concord is suspending its pay-as-you-throw trash program during the COVID-19 pandemic, as other cities seek to limit traffic at their transfer stations and recycling centers.

The change starts April 20 and will run until a week after the governor's stay-at-home order ends. Concord residents won't have to buy new city bags during this period and can use any bag for trash pickup.

Scrumshus via Wikimedia Commons

Members of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation say they’re worried that two new federal decisions - from the Navy and the Environmental Protection Agency - will increase risks related to COVID-19. 

The EPA announced today that it will not tighten air pollution limits on fine particulate matter, despite staff recommendations to do so.

The Illustrated Shooting and Dramatic News

On this week's Outside/In, Sam digs into a (shockingly controversial) debate over the now-extinct passenger pigeon, and its reputedly gargantuan flocks. Also: we debunk (and demystify) some coronavirus-related fake news about wildlife.

Listen to the program:

Connecting with Nature While Social Distancing

Apr 7, 2020
NHPR listener Alex Weech

It’s warming up and signs of Spring are beginning to emerge. How can we connect with nature safely and responsibly during this pandemic? We discuss where to find less-travelled trails, and how to find inspiration in your own backyard. Hosted by Sam Evans-Brown.

 

Air Date: Thursday, April 2, 2020

 

With the recent closures of Rumney Rocks and Pinkham Notch, and burgeoning crowds reported at popular New Hampshire parks, Governor Sununu on Friday encouraged outdoor enthusiasts to hike locally with his “Home Hike Challenge."

But on Saturday, the day after the challenge was issued, NHPR’s Sean Hurley visited the most popular hiking destination in New Hampshire - Mount Monadnock – where staff confirmed the mountain was busier than normal. 

Sara Plourde | NHPR

If you’re interested in more information about how to get outside during the COVID-19 Pandemic, check out the latest episode of Outside/In, or the episode of the Exchange from earlier this week.

New Hampshire residents could be forgiven for being slightly confused about whether they’re allowed to go for a hike or not. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state is trying to reassure environmental advocates in the wake of a controversial federal decision to ease pollution enforcement during the pandemic.

KRISTIAN BJORNARD; FLICKR cc

Recycling handlers across New Hampshire are concerned about coronavirus exposure despite federal reassurance.

The current federal guidance to municipal waste operators is that they can keep handling people's trash and recyclables in the usual way without an extra risk of picking up coronavirus.

Click here for all of NHPR's coronavirus coverage, including our live blog, FAQs, and more

Recycling handlers across the state are concerned about coronavirus exposure despite federal reassurance.

The current federal guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to municipal waste operators is that they can keep handling people's trash and recyclables in the usual way without an extra risk of picking up coronavirus.

“That’s surprising to many of our members and they want to take additional steps," says Reagan Bissonnette, the executive director of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.