New Hampshire’s Political Winds Help New Hampshire’s Environment

Tom Irwin | @TomIrwinNH

Two years ago, Republicans dominated New Hampshire’s elections at every level, winning races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, taking complete control of New Hampshire’s Executive Council, and locking up strong majorities in the state legislature.  On Tuesday, the political pendulum swung back in a way that is likely to end some unfortunate politics that have dominated the last two years, and to advance needed efforts to protect the health of New Hampshire’s environment and communities.

Democrat Maggie Hassan won the race for governor; Democrats Anne McLane Kuster  and Carol Shea-Porter won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, making New Hampshire the first state in the Union to have an all-female Congressional delegation; the Executive Council shifted to a 3-to-2 Democratic majority; and Democrats reclaimed a majority in New Hampshire’s 400-seat House of Representatives and nearly drew even in the Senate.  (To learn more about changes in the state legislature, click here and here.)

So, what do these changes mean for the environment and the issues CLF is tackling in New Hampshire?

Clean Energy & Climate Change: At the state level, the last two years have been marked by aggressive efforts in the legislature to end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or “RGGI,” and to preclude New Hampshire from participating in region-wide efforts to adopt clean-fuel standards aimed at reducing global warming pollution.  Governor-elect Hassan has made no secret of her support for RGGI, and a more balanced legislature should put an end to the sort of extreme, anti-science/anti-climate-change ideology that distracted the legislature – particularly NH’s House – over the past two years.  At the federal level, where Representative Charlie Bass has acknowledged the need for action on climate change and has on many occasions cast votes in support of renewable energy and protecting air quality, Representatives-elect Kuster and Shea-Porter will be allies in the effort to address the threats of global warming and to build a clean energy economy. (Click here to read about the recent Bass – Kuster debate and the candidates’ discussion of climate change.)

Northern Pass: Senators Shaheen and Ayotte, and Representative Bass, have continued to be proponents of a fair permitting process in the controversial Northern Pass project. We’ll be working hard to engage Representatives-elect Kuster and Shea-Porter and Governor-elect Hassan to build an even stronger voice for a fair permitting process – one that protects New Hampshire’s environment and secures a clean energy future for the Granite State.

Great Bay: In the past two years, Representative Frank Guinta has worked to undermine efforts to solve water pollution problems in the Great Bay estuary, going so far as to introduce legislation aimed at preventing EPA from issuing new permits to reduce nitrogen discharges, and politicizing the issue of nitrogen pollution – and EPA needed action – in a Congressional “field hearing” in Exeter. Representative-elect Shea-Porter, who has met with Great Bay stakeholders in the past, will provide a needed respite from such political theater.

The Capitol Corridor Rail Project: This year, New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted 3-2 (with Councilors Ray Burton and Ray Wieczorak in the minority) against receiving federal funds to study the re-establishment of train service from Boston to Concord, via Nashua and Manchester. Fortunately, the opportunity to accept these needed federal funds has not yet disappeared. The election of Debora Pignatelli, Chris Pappas and Colin Van Ostern – each of whom has been highly critical of the Executive Council’s vote to reject these funds – signals a bright future for getting the Capitol Corridor rail project back on track.

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