Environment | New Hampshire Public Radio

Environment

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: August 23, 2019

Aug 22, 2019

We focus on environmental news on this edition of the Weekly New Hampshire News Roundup. We talk about climate issues on the 2020 campaign trail after the departure of Jay Inslee, and compare the climate plans offered by other Democratic candidates. Following protests at the statehouse over the Merrimack Station coal plant, we discuss the future of fossil fuel generators in the state. Plus, the latest environmental vetoes and bill signings from Governor Chris Sununu.  Annie Ropeik, NHPR's environment and energy reporter, is guest host.

GUESTS:

Courtesy of Flickr

 

New Hampshire is getting federal money to study the health effects of toxins near a Superfund site in Berlin and in homes and private wells statewide.

The state Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health Laboratory announced Monday it will use over $5 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor residents’ blood and urine samples after potential exposure to chemicals.

Its goal: Increase the state’s understanding of toxin exposure and effective interventions.

Sununu Signs Bill to Clean Up Coakley Landfill Site

Aug 16, 2019
Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Coakley Landfill will soon get treatment and cleanup from New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services.

Robert Taylor via Flickr

You may be familiar with hoarders (not the TV show, but same idea).  In nature, a hoarder will hide food in one place.  Everything it gathers will be stored in a single tree or den.  But for some animals one food cache isn't enough.  We call them scatter hoarders.

  

Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring the city of Manchester to alert residents when it discharges raw sewage into the Merrimack River. The change is part of a large agreement Manchester is finalizing this year with the EPA to ensure the city's wastewater and stormwater systems comply with the 1994 Clean Water Act. 

What's Next for Renewable Energy Projects in N.H.?

Aug 7, 2019
Amy Quinton / NHPR file photo

The recent defeat of Northern Pass was a major setback for the import of large-scale hydropower into the region.  Meanwhile, efforts to build more solar and wind power are still underway… and some towns and cities have set their own renewable goals. We'll look at the reliability of these technologies… and  talk about their role in the future of our region’s power grid. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The solid waste company Casella says it's running out of space for Northern New England's trash. So it's taking the rare step of planning a brand-new landfill, in the small Coös County town of Dalton.

Lots of locals agree – they don't want the landfill. But they're divided on one potential tool to block it: zoning.

Something Wild: Smell that Olfactory

Aug 2, 2019
Courtesy Tony Alter via Flickr/Creative Commons.

We know…we’ve been remiss, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Something Wild, as you know, is a chance to take a closer look at the wildlife, ecosystems and marvelous phenomena you can find in and around New Hampshire. But over the years there is one species in New Hampshire that we haven’t spent much time examining. A species, I think that has been conspicuous in its absence. Humans.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

This summer, towns in southern New Hampshire are breaking ground on what will become the state’s largest regional water system. It is being built in part with money from massive settlements between New Hampshire and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, that used to produce MtBE, a chemical that polluted local drinking water. 

Google Maps

The North Country town of Dalton holds a public hearing Tuesday on plans to try and block a controversial landfill project.

The informational hearing at 7 p.m. comes ahead of a special town meeting July 30, where the town will vote on the emergency zoning proposal.

Dalton is one of the state's few towns with no zoning ordinance. This proposal would put some basic zoning in place.

Chris Jensen, NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday dealt what may be the final blow to the Northern Pass transmission line.

wikimedia commons

New restrictions on PFAS and what that means for Granite State communities. These chemicals have been found in public water supplies around the state. Used for decades in such products as Teflon and Gortex, they've been linked to serious health problems, spurring communities to take action, including lawsuits. Now, after intense pressure from community activists, New Hampshire officials have proposed some of the lowest PFAS limits in the country. We'll find out what's in store now, in terms of testing, following the health effects of these chemicals, and more. 

Courtesy of Flickr/Elke Mader

 

The towns of Peterborough and Jaffrey are considering a joint project to buy and manage a group of wells for their municipal water systems. 

 

A company based out of Chicago owns the parcel in question, named the Cold Stone Spring. It encompasses over 500 acres in Sharon and Jaffrey and includes three wells that have already received approval from the Department of Environmental Services to pump 577,000 gallons of water per day. Collectively, the towns expect to pump around 200,000 gallons per day.

 

EPA.gov

A cold storage company in Londonderry has settled with the Environmental Protection Agency for past Clean Air Act violations.

Londonderry Freezer Warehouse refrigerates some of its facilities with ammonia. Handled incorrectly, the chemical can be toxic, corrosive and flammable.

The EPA says the company's cold storage facility had rusty valves, shoddy ventilation and inadequate emergency controls.

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

Michigan.gov

State environmental officials on Friday proposed what would be some of the lowest limits in the country for four types of PFAS chemicals in public water supplies and groundwater.

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu has vetoed a plan to replace all state cars and trucks with zero-emissions vehicles within about a decade.

The bill would have required the state to stop buying new conventional vehicles by 2026.

State agencies would have had to replace their existing fleets with carbon-free technologies by the year 2041.

Something Wild: First Bitten

Jun 21, 2019
Courtesy Louise LeCLerc via Flickr/Creative Common

First Bitten is our periodic series at Something Wild where we study the people who study nature, and what set them on the path to do that. And this time around our two subjects under the microscope trace their love of nature back to their parents's nurture, specifically their fathers.  

Ron Davis grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Not a place known for for its lakes or streams or for vast expanses of wilderness; not a place you'd expect to find a future biologist. But that's where he started, "and because of the Second World War my love of nature became greatly enhanced."

 

When you think about civics and government, you probably think about voting and politicians, but the government touches every part of your life from birth to death. Today, we look at birth. What does it take to be born an American citizen? And then, once you are, how do you prove it?

Then, the story of how tourism on Mount Washington became a model for mountain tourism nationally.

The Executive Council is a peculiar New Hampshire institution made up of five “citizen” councilors that, together with the governor, make up the executive branch. Why do we have one? And how does it work?

 

Then, overpopulation was one of the biggest environmental issues of the 60s and 70s, arguably bigger than saving the whales, planting trees, and acid rain. But then it seemed to disappear from the conversation.

NH State Parks

Residents in the North Country town of Dalton are organizing against a proposed new landfill near Forest Lake State Park.

The plan comes from Vermont-based Casella, which says it’s running out of room for trash in the North Country.

More than a year ago, the town of Bethlehem voted down an expansion for the near- capacity Casella landfill there.

Tom Murray via BugGuide.net

We often think of the “food chain” in the natural world in linear terms: this eats that, which in turn, is eaten by the other. But today’s subject proves that chain is a little more like a web. The species we’re talking about today feeds on the most dangerous game, the apex of apex predators…us. And the species that prey on us? Mosquitos, of course! We recently spoke with Sarah MacGregor, an entomologist and founder of Dragon Mosquito Control, help us learn more about them.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

State legislators will vote in committee Tuesday on a handful of bills expanding recreational access and funding for public waters.

One bill up for a vote in the House Fish & Game committee would set up a pilot program to allow swimming at five water bodies with public boat ramps.

The proposal stems from a debate over one such pond in Ossipee, where residents want to swim alongside non-motorized boats.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire wildlife officials have the same message every spring when it comes to bears.

Bring in bird feeders, they say, get chickens inside some kind of bear-proof enclosure and make sure trash is stored away.

But the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has been running into a very human problem: apathy. 

Courtesy batwrangler via Flickr/Creative Commons.

It’s an unmistakable sound. One that elicits memories, sights and scents of events long ago. It recalls the joy of youth, the possibility of a spring evening. But it can also incite insomnia and the blind rage that accompanies it.

Sean Hurley

If you’re looking to sleep overnight on Mount Washington in the winter you have two choices.  You can stay at the Hermit Lake Shelters near Tuckerman Ravine - or you can stay at the go-to-spot for winter climbers - Harvard Cabin near the base of Huntington Ravine. But, as NHPR's Sean Hurley learned when he recently spent a night at Harvard Cabin, the pleasures of those winter days are matched by their dangers - and the responsibilities of the two mountain caretakers go beyond simply keeping track of guests.

Wind. Footsteps. White snow.

Robert Garrova / NHPR

Researchers have compiled new data on the economic impacts of New Hampshire watersheds.

The UNH team and its partners previewed their forthcoming study Friday at Plymouth State University, during the annual state Water and Watershed Conference.

They analyzed a range of data to quantify the value and costs of the state’s lakes and rivers – through infrastructure, recreation and more.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As federal regulators consider new drinking water standards for toxic PFAS chemicals, military officials are reportedly pushing for less stringent rules.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning new standards for testing, treatment and cleanup of PFAS contamination.

FLORIANHUAG / FLICKR/CC

Towns in Southern New Hampshire are moving ahead with a major construction project to increase water supply to the region.

On Tuesday, voters in Salem approved a deal to buy over a million gallons of water per day from Manchester Water Works.

The water will be sold to residents in Salem and other nearby towns facing water shortages due to increasing population and limited local water sources.

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests

Local forest stewards will get trained this summer on how to help hikers enjoy Mount Major more – without leaving as much behind.

The popular hiking spot in the Lakes Region was one of fewer than 20 hiking spots chosen nationwide to be the focus of training from the Leave No Trace program.

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