Environment | New Hampshire Public Radio

Environment

Thursday marks the restart of widespread testing for PFAS chemicals in New Hampshire’s public water supplies, after a year-long delay due to a lawsuit from PFAS-maker 3M.

PFAS are industrial chemicals, widely found in groundwater and linked to health problems including liver and kidney disease, high cholesterol and reproductive, developmental and immune issues, as well as potentially some cancers.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Parts of New Hampshire continue to experience extreme drought conditions. The state has put a ban on campfires near public woodlands in response, and well drilling companies are overwhelmed with calls.

Michael Casey / AP

New Hampshire will offer a new federal grant program to rehabilitate some of its dozens of so-called “high hazard” dams – ones that would threaten life and property if they failed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency launched the program this year, giving New Hampshire close to half a million dollars to give to towns, nonprofits and dam owners.

Google Earth

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a new ocean dumping site for dredged material just off the Seacoast, after a years-long permitting process.

The site is in federal waters past the Isles of Shoals, about 14 miles directly east of Wallis Sands State Beach. It covers a circle just over a mile and a half in diameter, in water about 300 feet deep.

NH Forest Rangers / Twitter

New Hampshire is taking the rare step of banning most campfires and smoking near public woodlands to prevent forest fires as drought conditions get worse.

The new ban prohibits the burning of debris on public property, as well as most kinds of campfires. Also banned are the smoking of pipes, cigars or cigarettes on or near public woodlands and trails.

Taylor Quimby

This week, during their highly anticipated “Battery Day” event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk laid out the company’s plan to have a $25,000 electric vehicle on the market within three years. He also mentioned that the company will be breaking into the lithium mining business.

 

Experts are skeptical. But why?

James Cridland, https://bit.ly/2DRn1mT

To become a more inclusive movement, environmentalists are re-examining the past. Today on Outside/In, part two of our series looking back at the environmental movement's problematic anxiety around "overpopulation." 

 

Because when people talk about overpopulation … what are they really talking about? 

 

 

Bow Fire Department / Facebook

Update, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Concord fire officials say the Merrimack River island fire was extinguished this afternoon, though "hot spots" may flare up in the dry weather forecast for the coming days. 

OC Aerials / facebook.com/OCAerials603

New Hampshire’s drought is not expected to improve any time soon, and officials say it’s continuing to create prime conditions for possible wildfires.

Seventy-two percent of New Hampshire is now in a severe drought, with moderate drought in the southwestern and far northern part of the state. The drought also stretches across New England, with extreme conditions in far northern Maine and on New England’s south coast.

Wikimedia Commons

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown tackles a question from a listener. 

Clair from Plymouth asks: “Why do cows have four teats and just about every other animal that doesn’t have litter has two?

Note: This edition of Ask Sam originally aired in February, 2020.

James Cridland, https://bit.ly/2DRn1mT

To become a more inclusive movement, environmentalists are re-examining the past. Today on Outside/In, we’re talking about how history is and isn’t remembered, and we’re looking back at a problematic topic that, in environmental circles, used to loom larger than stopping nukes and saving whales: over-population. 

 

But when people talk about over-population … what are they really talking about? 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state has denied a request from the Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack for extra time to make upgrades that will control PFAS chemical emissions.

The facility’s air emissions of PFAS were found to have settled into hundreds of local water wells at unsafe levels in 2016.

Steve Mirick

A panel of federal judges has ordered a stricter monitoring plan for Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant’s issues with cracks in its concrete. 

The ruling comes from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

It was issued in late August and made public Friday, about a year after a days-long hearing on the issue in Newburyport, Mass.

New Hampshire’s federal lawmakers want a bigger cut of a new national grant program to address sewage discharges in local rivers.

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Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Casella has filed its first formal application to build a new landfill in the North Country – a major step forward for a controversial project that’s been in the works for more than a year.

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Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Today, Labor Day, caps off one of New Hampshire's warmest summers on record -- a consequence of climate change.

National Weather Service data for June, July and August says this summer was the warmest on record in Manchester, with an average temperature of 74.4 degrees.

Thirty-two days were over 90 degrees in the Queen City - compared to fewer than 10 normally in the years since 1980.

Labor Day highs in Manchester have also ticked up in that time, according to weather records.

The open world environment of Skyrim is beautiful, and one of the most celebrated video game landscapes of all time. But an imagined world can be transformative ... and contain ideas about nature that are quite real.

Susan Young / Flickr

Every other Friday on Morning Edition NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the environment and outdoors for our listeners in a segment we call “Ask Sam."

Debbie Beauvair from Deerfield, N.H., asks: "I have a question about hummingbirds. We’ve noticed in the last 3 weeks or so that the number of hummingbirds have increased and the fights are off the charts. Our feeders are socially distanced by humminbird standards — at least 20 feet apart — but they’re swooping and chasing all over the place. What’s going on?"

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire’s ongoing drought has worsened again, with severe dryness now spreading into Grafton County and escalating impacts to surface water and agriculture.

At a meeting Thursday, officials said nearly the entire state remains in a drought, with the worst of it stretching from the Seacoast into the lower White Mountains.

Cori Princell / NHPR

The state is out with a first-of-its-kind report on the health of New Hampshire’s lakes, showing the effects of climate change, population growth and a decline in acid rain.

The report takes a comprehensive look at water quality trends from the past few decades or longer in 150 of the state’s lakes and ponds monitored by volunteers and state biologists.

Google Maps

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new health restrictions around a Superfund site in the town of Merrimack.

The New Hampshire Plating Company site near the Merrimack River housed an electroplating factory until the 1980s. It left toxic chemicals like lead and arsenic in the soil and groundwater. 

The EPA’s original cleanup plan mostly involved treating contaminated soil and monitoring the groundwater as the chemicals faded away on their own. 

Jerry and Marcy Monkman / Trust For Public Lands

The state is out with a draft 10-year plan for managing its forests, with a new focus on recreation and climate change impacts. 

The Division of Forests and Lands updates this plan every decade. The new 2020 draft plan is out for public comment until Oct. 15.

Nick Mott

When the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge first emerged, most people had never heard of global warming. So over the last four decades, the controversies over oil in the Refuge and climate change evolved on different tracks.

Now, those tracks are intersecting. In the final episode of The Refuge miniseries -- a dive into the resulting tensions and contradictions around oil and climate.

For the month of August, Outside/In is featuring Refuge, a four-part Peabody award-winning documentary series from Threshold. This is part four.

Scott Heron / Flickr CC

State agencies say there’s room for improvement in a construction permit process designed to protect endangered species – but they’re still debating who’s responsible for enforcing and revising the recently loosened rules.

Keith Williams / Flickr CC

A fight is brewing at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services about the permitting rules for construction projects. Builders support a recent change that loosened a key standard, while conservationists worry it'll harm endangered species. 

The groups will air their views Thursday at the first of two virtual public input sessions at DES.

NHPR’s environmental reporter Annie Ropeik joined All Things Considered host Peter Biello to explain the significance of the controversy. 


Dan Tuohy for NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has agreed to hear a community group’s appeal in a dispute over an environmental protection ordinance in Nottingham, temporarily halting a lower court lawsuit against the rule.

The case comes from a citizen group, the Nottingham Water Association, which wants to intervene in an ongoing Superior Court challenge to their town’s freedom from chemical trespass” ordinance.

Amy Martin

The Gwich’in have lived and hunted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge long before it was carved out as federal protected land. Their territory spans a huge swath of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada, and their health and culture depends on the Porcupine caribou herd—a group of animals 200,000 strong that calve on the area of the coastal plain slated for drilling.

The Refuge team spends this episode in Arctic Village, a community just over the southern border of the Refuge, and hear from the Gwich’in about what’s at stake for them as development looms in the 1002 area.

For the month of August, Outside/In is featuring Refuge, a four-part Peabody award-winning documentary series from Threshold. This is part three.

Nick Mott

The Threshold team visits Kaktovik, Alaska, the only town within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to find out how the conflict over drilling for oil in the refuge feels to the people who live there. But the heart of the issue isn’t just over oil extraction and development, wilderness and wildlife. Whatever side people took, their focus is on their community, sovereignty, and survival.

For the month of August, Outside/In is featuring Refuge, a four-part Peabody award-winning documentary series from Threshold.

Annie Ropeik

The state is asking for the public’s help in counting wild turkey broods for a couple more weeks.

The annual count by the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department lasts through the end of August.

Residents can participate by filling out a survey with details of any groups of turkeys they see. These groups typically include at least one turkey hen and several juvenile turkeys, sometimes of different sizes.

Will Strathmann

Conservation groups in the Squam Lakes region want residents to turn off their lights and watch the stars for an hour Saturday night.

The event marks the 60th anniversary of the Squam Lake Conservation Society.

People in the Squam Lakes--or anywhere--are invited to turn off all artificial lights starting at 9 p.m. It should reduce light pollution and let features like the Milky Way and more stars become visible.

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