Environment

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is offering grants to coastal communities looking to better prepare for the effects of climate change.

A total amount of $200,000 is available to towns, state agencies, and private groups.  

Winning projects in the past have included everything from infrastructure projects, to flood plain studies, to educational outreach programs.

File photo / Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New England’s power grid operator is getting pushback on a study that said some worst-case scenarios could lead to rolling blackouts in the region by 2024.

FILE

Hundreds of people in a New Hampshire town have signed a petition asking a plastics company believed to be the source of tainted groundwater to pay for water filters at the town's schools.

The group of Merrimack residents says Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has provided filtration in other towns with contaminated water, but taxpayers are currently paying to filter water at Merrimack schools.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Energy leaders from around New England met in Manchester Friday to brainstorm how to keep the region’s lights on at a reasonable price long-term.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan was in Nashua Friday to tout her proposed study on the renewable energy practice of net metering, which lets ratepayers offset their bills by selling power they generate back into the grid.

It’s commonly used for homeowners to save on energy costs with rooftop solar panels, but it’s possible with bigger customers and energy developments, too – depending on state laws.

Hassan, a Democrat, wants the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue, so states like New Hampshire can fine-tune those rules.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Supporters of Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line want to remove two evaluators from the appeal process for the project’s state permit.

A group of business and union stakeholders made the request to the state Site Evaluation Committee this week.

The business group wants Public Utilities Commission member Kathryn Bailey and public representative Patricia Weathersby to recuse themselves from future Northern Pass proceedings at the SEC.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A state representative's plan to spur more clean-up at the Seacoast's Coakley Landfill Superfund site may be scaled back after a Senate vote Thursday.

The original proposal would have gotten the state involved in forcing the entities responsible for the pollution to pay for more thorough cleanup. 

That measure passed the state House last month.

But the Senate opted for what the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mindi Messmer, calls a “stripped-down version.”

creative commons

The New Hampshire Senate Thursday put an end to one effort to expand energy efficiency funding in the state.

They voted down a bill regarding how the state spends money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

The proposal, which had passed the House, would have gotten rid of the RGGI rebate for residential ratepayers.

Selbe B via Flickr CC

Coos County officials have sided with the Mount Washington Cog Railway in a dispute over a trail near the summit – but the fight is far from over.

The Coos County planning board says the Cog didn't need a permit to clear the trail on its property, as long as it's used for maintenance and recreation.

They say it will need a permit if it's ever used commercially, but it's still not clear what that means.

Six New Hampshire towns are getting $700,000 in federal grants to clean up contaminated industrial sites.

The money will be used to address brownfields -- sites where the Environmental Protection Agency says redevelopment might be complicated by contamination.

The North Country Council plans to use its grants to do environmental assessments in Berlin, Colebrook and Northumberland.

The Southwest Regional Planning Commission will do the same in Hinsdale and Winchester.

EPA Twitter

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will treat wood fuels from managed forests as carbon-neutral. It could give New Hampshire's timber industry some long-term certainty.

Charlie Niebling has worked around the Granite State's forest products industry for decades. He says scientists have never agreed on if biomass fuels, like wood chips, offset more carbon than they produce. 

 

Niebling thinks biomass can have a net carbon benefit if it's harvested from a well-managed forest and burned efficiently. 

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Citizen scientists have begun another year of sifting through sand on Seacoast beaches, in search of tiny bits of plastic known as microplastics.

It's the fifth year for the volunteer-driven New Hampshire Sea Grant project.

Blue Ocean Society executive director Jen Kennedy says scientists want to collect, sort and analyze the different types of microplastics that wash ashore on the Seacoast.

U.S. Forest Service

You might see smoke rising or trails blocked off in parts of the White Mountain National Forest over the next six weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service will be setting as many as 20 fires across the park in an effort to keep the forest healthy. Fire management officer Patrick Johnson says the fires' locations depend on what the forest needs every year. 

US Department of Energy

Offshore wind supporters will mark Earth Day with a rally outside the Statehouse Sunday.

They want Gov. Chris Sununu to request a federal study of the Seacoast's wind potential.

Griffin Sinclair-Wingate, of the group 350 New Hampshire, says generating more clean power in-state will help Granite Staters financially and environmentally. And he thinks offshore wind is a perfect way to do it.

Jim Richmond

New Hampshire is refocusing its energy policy for the next decade, aiming to prioritize lower costs for consumers and to allow “unaided market competition” for all forms of energy.

Public Service of New Hampshire

A new report says the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has put $4 billion into Northeast economies since 2009.

The three-year study by the Analysis Group says those benefits have continued even as the program known as RGGI grew more ambitious.

Municipalities across New Hampshire are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of recycling programs.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Laconia Public Works director Wes Anderson about how he’s working to reduce those costs in his city.


NH Seagrant

Scientists at UNH want the public’s help to search for invasive green crabs this spring and summer.

The second year of the monitoring project starts this Saturday.

New Hampshire Sea Grant biologist Gabby Bradt wants to find hotspots of green crabs, and determine when they molt, on the coast.

“And the reason for that is I'm really interested in figuring out when we can harvest soft shell crabs for a fishery and for a seafood market,” she says.

Jason Moon for NHPR

New Hampshire’s Seacoast is home to some of the earliest history of European settlers anywhere in the country. Believe it or not, much of that history is still being uncovered.

But now climate change and sea-level rise is adding new urgency to those efforts.

NHPR’s Jason Moon joined a UNH researcher for a hike to see a centuries-old archaeological site that is literally washing away.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pre-planned outage at Berlin's wood-burning power plant ends Saturday night.

The 75-megawatt Burgess Biomass Plant has been down for routine maintenance since last weekend.

Plant manager David Walker says they've been doing this twice a year since 2016.

"Biomass plants will typically schedule this time of year, because of what they call the spring and the fall mud season, so the loggers aren't allowed to get into the woods, or if the roads are posted and whatnot,” he says.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Town officials in New Hampshire are preparing for mosquito season.

WMUR-TV reports crews in Rye will start spraying for mosquitoes this week. Officials say they will check standing water for mosquito larvae. These areas include swamps, salt marshes and ditches.

Scientists say mosquitoes and other insects like fleas and ticks weren't affected by the extended period of subzero weather in northern New England.

Via USGS.gov

Update, Tuesday 10 a.m.: The records hearing was continued late Monday night and has not yet been rescheduled.

Original post, Monday 4 p.m.: 

A judge is expected to decide Tuesday if the towns and businesses responsible for pollution at Coakley Landfill on the Seacoast have to release more of their internal records.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some Seacoast residents were unhappy Thursday night to hear state and federal officials reiterate they don’t believe the Coakley Landfill is contaminating area drinking water.

Authorities say some groundwater wells around the Superfund site in North Hampton do show high levels of suspected carcinogens called PFCs – but they say the chemicals haven’t spread to private wells.

Scott Reynolds

Only a couple of dozen bats spent this past winter in New Hampshire.

That’s down from thousands a decade ago, before a fungus called white nose syndrome decimated many species’ populations in 2009.

Biologist Scott Reynolds says since then, the mine shafts where bats used to hibernate in large numbers have been pretty empty.

But white nose has also subsided in New Hampshire.

Now, Reynolds says recovery for the species hit hardest, such as little brown bats, is just beginning.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

 

Renewable energy advocates say they want to see more communities cutting emissions and pushing for offshore wind development in New Hampshire.

 

The League of Conservation Voters launched a new campaign in Portsmouth on Wednesday to push for those reforms at the state and local levels. 

 

WPS Geography

Environmentalists will kick off a new campaign for clean energy development in Portsmouth Wednesday.

The League of Conservation Voters' "Clean Energy for All" project spans 30 states, including New Hampshire.

State Director Rob Werner says they're unveiling the campaign in Portsmouth because zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions and using all renewable sources of power are now part of that city's energy policy goals.

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr Creative Commons

University of New Hampshire researchers say warmer, wetter springs have been contributing to the yellowing and loss of white pine tree needles in the state.

They say since 2010, White Pine Needle Damage has become more widespread. Infected trees experience a yellowing of mature needles and loss of foliage.

Researchers are assessing the impacts of the disease on tree health and productivity, and developing guidelines for land managers.

Eastern white pine composes more than 500,000 acres of New Hampshire forestland.

Grungetextures.com / Darren Hester/ Flickr CC

State lawmakers may take a closer look at giving New Hampshire control of its own storm water permits, now managed by the federal government.

New Hampshire is one of four states where the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of storm water regulations.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Spring in New Hampshire means black bears are emerging from their dens to search for food – including around your backyard bird feeder.

And warming winters are bringing the bears out sooner. So state officials now want people to bring in their bird feeders earlier than ever.

Kelly Dwyer lives in a big, airy house nestled up against the woods in Hooksett. Being back here, she says, has its perks:

“The surprise of what is going to show up that day – what’s going to fly in or walk in – it’s really exciting,” she says. “And just the peace and tranquility.”

CREDIT DARYL CARLSON/KAMARAIMAGE.COM

Spring is a time of transition in New Hampshire -- from ice fishing, to open water fishing. That's why the Department of Fish & Game wants residents to remove their bob houses from lakes and ponds by Saturday.

State law lets bob houses stay standing until April 1st. But Fish & Game administrative lieutenant Heidi Murphy says she hopes most have been hauled off the remaining ice by now.

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