Fossil Fuels | New Hampshire Public Radio

Fossil Fuels

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A new emissions inventory for the city of Concord points to potential climate change solutions as the state capital works to sharply lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Concord’s city council set its climate change goals in 2018. They want all electricity used locally to come from renewable sources by 2030, and the same for heating, cooling and transportation by 2050.

NHPR staff

After taking the spotlight in the presidential primary, climate change policy is back in focus in New Hampshire's governor's race -- and not just as a partisan issue.

Energy is driving a wedge between the Democratic candidates competing in next week's primary, as well as with incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

NHPR’s All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with energy and environment reporter Annie Ropeik, who’s heading up NHPR’s climate reporting project By Degrees, for more on the candidates’ views and the role this is playing in the race.

NHSaves

New Hampshire's electric and natural gas utilities are proposing an increase to their energy efficiency savings goals for the next three years, in a plan that aims to cut costs and carbon emissions but could slightly increase customers’ bills in the short-term.

The proposal centers on the utility-run NHSaves rebate program, which gives ratepayers incentives to use less energy by upgrading things like appliances, insulation or machinery.

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The city of Manchester is adding 14 propane-fueled school buses to its fleet in an effort to improve local air quality.

The city has 81 school buses in total. The new propane-powered ones will replace the oldest buses, all of which are between 14 and 18 years old. Officials say tests show the propane buses can cut emissions from diesel buses by 96%.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Activists are calling on electric customers in New Hampshire and New England to stop paying their utility bills on Sept. 1, in a strike that aims to put pressure on the regional energy system to address climate change.

No Coal, No Gas campaign volunteer Jeff Gang says the goal is to have a thousand people signed up to strike ahead of time.

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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.

350 New Hampshire

Liberty Utilities says it will not build the proposed Granite Bridge natural gas pipeline in Southern New Hampshire, after finding a cheaper way to serve new customers by using existing infrastructure.

The company told the state of the change in plans in a Public Utilities Commission filing Friday afternoon. 

The $340-million pipeline plan dated to late 2017 and drew fierce opposition from climate change activists, who oppose any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the region.

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The state is launching a broad new effort to find ways to reduce the air emissions that drive respiratory disease and climate change in New Hampshire.

The non-partisan Emissions Commission meets for the first time next week and will include members of state agencies, utilities and the legislature, along with health, business and environmental advocates.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

A regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants also made the northeast healthier, by reducing air pollutants like mercury and sulfur dioxide.

But a new study focused on children found the benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, were even greater than previously thought – preventing hundreds of childhood illnesses and saving an additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Environmental groups want federal regulators to reconsider a new water discharge permit for New England’s largest coal-fired power plant – Merrimack Station in Bow.

The Environmental Protection Agency permit was issued in May after many years of delay.

It dictates how the power plant uses water from the Merrimack River – burning coal to heat the water into steam that generates electricity, before putting that hot water back into the river.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was in New Hampshire Wednesday, touring the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Bernhardt’s visit came just before the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps New Hampshire and other states fund ecological and cultural conservation projects.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

CSPAN

To kick off NHPR's new reporting project By Degrees, we're unpacking the basics of how climate change is already affecting life in New Hampshire, and how the state is contributing to and responding to the problem. 

Rachel Cleetus is the policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program, based in Massachusetts.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

A new federal permit for New Hampshire's largest coal-fired power plant will not require the installation of cooling towers, which advocates say are vital to protect the Merrimack River.

The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t updated Merrimack Station’s five-year water quality permit since the 1990s. The permit regulates water intake and discharge between the plant and the adjacent Merrimack River.

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Democratic state lawmakers say they'll push for renewable energy development as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

State senator and gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes addressed the issue during a virtual Earth Day town hall Wednesday.

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Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

Town meeting ballots across New Hampshire on Tuesday will include a resolution in support of carbon pricing, due in part to the efforts of youth climate activists.

The warrant article is spearheaded by a group of nonprofits and advocacy groups, under the name Carbon Cash-Back Coalition.

Dead River Company

New Hampshire's heating fuel industry is trying to recruit workers at a time of low unemployment.

The Dead River Company, which serves Northern New England, is expanding a program to employ and train recent trade school graduates as fuel technicians or truck drivers.

At the same time, training director Dan Carrigan says his company and the industry as a whole are looking to the future of home heating, amid a push to transition away from fossil fuels.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Climate activists are facing new charges after appearing in district court in Concord Friday.

They’ve held a series of protests against a coal power plant in Bow that’s the largest left in New England.

Dozens of activists crowded outside the Concord courtroom Friday. Many wore red – not just for Valentine's Day, but to show solidarity, they said.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New England used more wind and solar power than ever last year, but fossil fuels still make up half the electricity generated in the region.

In new data, power grid operator ISO-New England says 49% of electricity generated in New England last year was from natural gas. Less than 1% was from coal or oil. 

Natural gas use has roughly plateaued in the region in the past few years. It peaked in 2015.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A power plant in Bow -- the largest coal-burning plant left in New England -- has been the target of protests and civil disobedience in recent weeks. 

This month, activists from across New England have twice attempted to block trains carrying shipments of coal to the plant. Protests on the train tracks and at the plant have so far resulted in dozens of arrests.   

The activists say Merrimack Station should close. Its owners argue that criticism is misplaced. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A controversial conference in Portsmouth Friday focused on economic solutions to climate change – while questioning some mainstream scientific views. 

The Portsmouth Conference was the first put on by Citizens Count, a nonpartisan voter education nonprofit.

Its founder is prominent New Hampshire businessman Paul Montrone, who sat in on the conference at a hotel in Portsmouth.

ISO-New England

New England has gotten federal approval for a first-in-the-nation type of power supply auction. It'll let new renewable energy projects take over for old fossil fuel plants on the grid.

Once a year, the nonprofit grid operator ISO-New England holds an auction for power generators who want to supply energy for the region, starting three years out.