Governor Sununu Gets Failing Grade on Energy and Climate

Governor Sununu is 30 years behind on energy and climate, and his actions show it.

New Hampshire Capitol Building

Governor Sununu has been letting New Hampshire down on energy and climate. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Even before New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu took office in 2016, we knew that he might be a climate change denier. But he was also a ski resort owner, who should know from experience that increasingly warm and volatile weather hurts our economy, our environment, and our way of life. So we kept an open mind. Since then however, Sununu has shown time and again that he’s 30 years behind on energy and climate.

Governor Sununu’s record now speaks for itself. He has vetoed bipartisan solar legislation that would have helped towns across the state install solar panels and save tax dollars. He has undermined funding sources for the energy efficiency programs that help keep our families warm and our energy bills manageable. He wants to gut the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that ensures our utility companies purchase at least some clean energy to power our homes and businesses. And he’s declared the state open to polluting gas pipelines. All of these are bad for our wallets, bad for the air we breathe, and bad for our climate.

In short, Governor Sununu acts like a guy whose funders and friends are climate deniers and dirty polluters (which, it turns out, they are. You can read his brother’s climate denialism here or some of his family and friends’ positions here or here).

The Governor’s Poor Record on Energy and Climate Speaks for Itself

You can check the Governor’s record yourself. Here’s an accounting of his energy and climate positions in office:

  • On the campaign trail, Sununu said he wanted to build natural gas pipelines through New Hampshire, and since getting elected, he’s repeated that over and over. More pipelines would cost billions of dollars and sink our limited resources into dirty energy for decades.
  • In June 2017, he announced his support for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, which was designed to keep warming across the globe to less risky levels. He also refused to join a bipartisan coalition of governors pledging to meet concrete climate goals.
  • In July of 2017, Sununu officially joined the ranks of climate deniers when he said, “Is carbon the leading reason why the earth has warmed up pretty much continuously over the last 150 years? I’m not sure.” (Scientists are.)
  • In January 2018, he announced support for an obstructionist bill that would let the legislature, rather than the experts at the Public Utilities Commission, decide how to spend money on energy efficiency. That bill passed in the legislature and we expect the Governor to sign it into law any day now.
  • Sununu is a big supporter of Northern Pass (Eversource Energy, the project’s developer, is a major Sununu donor). In February 2018, Sununu went on the offense for Eversource when the transmission project was rejected by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee for its potential to cause undue harm to New Hampshire communities. He even made inappropriate comments on the radio before the committee’s final written decision and before its decision on rehearing. Sununu’s comments were viewed as part of a campaign to undermine the independence of the committee and influence its final decision (an effort that ultimately failed).
  • In April 2018, Sununu released a “state energy strategy” calling for more reliance on nuclear and gas. The strategy is critical of forward-looking clean energy policies. Instead, it argues that we should upend the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to support nuclear power rather than renewable energy. (As a note, Seabrook nuclear power plant owner NextEra is also a major donor to Sununu.) Despite overwhelming public comments asking the Governor to address climate change in this plan, the energy strategy includes no climate plan.
  • In June 2018, Sununu vetoed a GOP-led, bipartisan energy bill. This bill would have allowed larger rooftop solar arrays to participate in net metering, a program that gives solar panel owners credit on their energy bills for sending extra power back to the grid. This would have made it possible for towns across the state to lower taxes by controlling their energy costs with solar and other clean energy.

The Governor Does Not Want to Help Our State Fight Climate Change

We found a grain of hope in Sununu’s energy strategy when we read that he supported energy efficiency. But then we saw his lack of real support for energy efficiency when he let (or encouraged?) HB 559 to die – an exciting bipartisan energy efficiency funding bill that looked poised to pass.

It all adds up to this: Governor Sununu has no plan on climate change. He doesn’t even admit it’s caused by polluting carbon emissions. And he’s holding the state back on clean energy and efficiency. If he gets his way, we’ll only see more dirty fossil fuels – which means more pollution, higher energy costs, and fewer clean energy jobs.

Please keep your eye on Governor Sununu’s energy and climate policies – and don’t let him off the hook. Help us hold his feet to the fire until he #actsonclimate.

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.