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About NH Labor News

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.

Praise And Concern Over Democrats “Better Deal”

Communication Workers of America: Working People Need Protections for U.S. Call Center Jobs and a “Better Deal”

Today the Democrats released the details of their “Better Deal” that will focus on three goals:

Raise the wages and incomes of American workers and create millions of good-paying jobs: Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests. We will aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade and fight back against corporations that outsource American jobs.  We will fight to ensure a living wage for all Americans and keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare, so seniors can retire with dignity.

Lower the costs of living for families: We will offer A Better Deal that will lower the crippling cost of prescription drugs and the cost of a college or technical education that leads to a good job. We will fight for families struggling with high monthly bills like childcare, credit card fees, and cable bills. We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business – and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.

Build an economy that gives working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century: Americans deserve the chance to get the skills, tools, and knowledge to find a good-paying job or to move up in their career to earn a better living. We will commit to A Better Deal that provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits. We will make it a national priority to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of America and offer an apprenticeship to millions of new workers. We will encourage innovation, invest in advanced research and ensure start-ups and small business can compete and prosper.

(Video of Better Jobs announcement at bottom of post)

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO praised today’s announcement.

“We applaud Sen. Chuck Schumer’s leadership and the Senate Democrats for committing to better trade deals and creating the good jobs that working people deserve. Particularly notable in this agenda are the demands for increased public input and transparency in trade negotiations—including the call for town hall meetings across the country—as well as the continued commitment to long-needed action on currency and trade enforcement. This blueprint provides a good start but also must ensure that working people across North America are free to join together to negotiate a fair return on our work. We look forward to working with the Senate to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement’s corporate-driven rules and enact other innovative trade reforms beneficial to working families.”

After the details of the Democratic Party’s “better deal” were released the Communications Workers of America issued a statement highlighting the need to protect call center jobs from offshoring.  

The Democratic Party’s plan for a better deal on trade and jobs outlines real policies to help working families fight back against corporations that want to shift more jobs overseas and cut wages and benefits for working Americans.

For the first time, lawmakers are recognizing the impact of the tens of thousands of U.S. customer service jobs that have disappeared over past years, as corporations ship good call center jobs to Mexico, India, the Philippines and other countries.

CWA has been pressing Congress to stop this flood of jobs overseas. Corporations are boosting their profits and enriching their investors at the expense of working Americans, and communities are devastated when these good service jobs disappear. And as more jobs are sent offshore, more pressure is brought to bear on U.S. workers to accept lower wages and benefits as the price for keeping any job at all.

The Democratic “Better Deal” plan includes crucial legislation introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that would help restrict call center offshoring and reverse the loss of thousands of good customer service jobs in the U.S.  It also would provide important consumer safeguards.

Overall, the “Better Deal” plan will give working people a long overdue voice in what happens to their jobs and their communities. It ends the tax incentives and other rewards that corporations now get for sending  jobs overseas; encourages companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. with financial incentives; fully restores “Buy America” requirements for all taxpayer-funded projects, and makes improving U.S. wages and good jobs a key objective of our trade policy.

The Better Deal plan would require companies that handle sensitive U.S. consumer data abroad, including call centers, to disclose to customers what country they are physically located in and the level of data protection in that country.

U.S. trade deals should benefit working families, consumers and communities, not just investors and big corporations. The Better Deal plan provides real solutions to do just that.

Ten Years After Minneapolis Bridge Collage Progressive Warn About Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

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On 10 Year Anniversary of Minneapolis Mississippi River Bridge Collapse Tragedy, Progressives Warn ‘Trump’s Radical Infrastructure Privatization Plan Will Hurt American Consumers & Workers’

On the tenth anniversary of the Minneapolis Mississippi River Bridge collapse, which killed thirteen and injured dozens after the bridge’s central span gave way during rush hour traffic, Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor released the following statement of the Millions of Jobs coalition:

“A decade ago this week, the nation watched in shock as a bridge crumbled in Minneapolis during rush hour traffic, killing and injuring dozens. This tragedy never should have happened in America. But today, our nation’s’ roads, highways and transportation infrastructure are deteriorating from lack of public investment. We can’t let it happen again.

“Democrats in Congress and the Millions of Jobs coalition believe we have the opportunity to put millions of Americans to work rebuilding bridges and roads and repairing our unsafe water systems — and also creating modern jobs for the 21st century by investing in clean energy and high-speed Internet.

“Trump wants to use this crisis as cover to sell off our our nation’s public infrastructure to Wall Street investors and foreign corporations, who would levy tolls that Americans would have to pay for generations to come. It’s a scam, not a real plan to rebuild. The difference between the progressive vision of job creation and Trump’s scam of jobless corporate handouts could very well  save innocent people from another tragedy like what happened on the the Mississippi River Bridge 10 years ago.

“The president’s radical privatization plan will hurt American consumers and workers, and we implore our elected officials to block Trump’s corporate giveaway of this country’s  infrastructure future.” 

NH Senate Republicans Vote Down Proposal To Lower Insurance Premiums Statewide

The Reinsurance Program would allow the NH Department of Insurance to seek additional federal funds to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

Today, Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans failed to fund the NH Insurance Department’s reinsurance proposal that would protect the benefits of tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee moved forward with a proposal from the NH Insurance Department to create a reinsurance program, but failed to authorize any way to pay for it.

“Governor Sununu is shamefully choosing politics over people and New Hampshire will suffer as a result. President Trump’s unpopular decision to sabotage insurance markets in order to implement his even-less-popular plan appears to be spilling over to states with friendly governors like Chris Sununu,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

“Sununu’s blind cooperation with Trump ignores the fact that reinsurance plans have been successful in lowering premiums, keeping carriers in the market, and creating stability and certainty. By refusing to fund the proposal, the reinsurance program is set up for failure and shows Governor Sununu’s cooperation with Trump in undermining our healthcare system for political gain.”

After the vote, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), member of the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“Given President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system and the failure of Republicans in Congress to act, states like New Hampshire need to be doing all we can do to stabilize our healthcare market, increase competition, and drive down costs for Granite Staters.”

“While the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the NH Insurance and HHS Commissioners to seek federal waivers to create a reinsurance program and to seek all federal funds available to help pay for the program, the Committee rejected, along party lines, the NH Insurance Commissioner’s proposal to help fund the program through an added assessment on our insurance carriers.”

“Without the certainty of funding and the refusal to add an assessment on our state carriers, there’s no way for insurance carriers to reduce premiums, despite the fact that insurance assessments in the past have been used to address failures in our healthcare marketplace. Governor Sununu and his Republican allies are playing dangerous political games with our healthcare system, risking insurance carriers leaving our state, risking higher premiums for our hard-working families, and creating more destabilization in NH’s healthcare system.”

“Healthcare is an issue that affects all Granite Staters and impacts us at all levels of state government. New Hampshire policymakers should not just throw up their hands and give up working on solutions to these problems just because they are hard. It’s disheartening that Governor Sununu and Republicans in the legislature are again defaulting to the dysfunction of Washington and standing alongside President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system rather than standing with the people of New Hampshire. Real leadership is needed to bring people together to find meaningful healthcare solutions, both here and in Washington. Unfortunately, today’s vote doesn’t solve any of our problems or find any meaningful solutions.”

In light of today’s votes the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) is “cancelling the public hearings scheduled for August 2nd and August 3rd relative to its market stabilization plan and proposed 1332 waiver application.”

“Consistent with today’s vote of the Joint Health Reform Oversight Committee, the NHID will continue to explore options for the 1332 waiver, and will reschedule the hearings once there is more clarity about the specifics of the state’s approach,” wrote the NHID.

Alaska and Minnesota have successfully implemented and funded similar reinsurance programs that will net-lower premiums in their states.

In response to reports of significant projected increases in individual market health care premiums, and a party-line vote by the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee to block an Insurance Department proposal, Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), a member of the Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“President Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to ‘let Obamacare implode.’  In a belligerent act of sabotage, the President is threatening to withhold billions in cost sharing subsidies to insurance companies that are required under federal law.  The uncertainty that President Trump has created in the insurance market is a driving force in projected rate increases nationwide.”

“Instead of working with the Insurance Department to submit their full waiver request – including a 1% rate increase assessment on group markets – to achieve the greatest possible reduction in rates in the individual market, New Hampshire Republicans on this Oversight Committee have chosen the path of least resistance.”

“Republicans on the Oversight Committee voted on August 1st to prevent New Hampshire’s Insurance Department from submitting their full waiver request.  Instead the Committee authorized the Insurance and Health and Human Services Departments to request financial assistance from the federal government – without any seed money or contribution from NH insurance carriers.”

“Over 35,000 Granite Staters will be subject to spikes in rates of as much as 30 to 40% in the individual market.  By opposing commonsense efforts to bring stability to the market, Governor Sununu and Committee Republicans appear willing to use our citizens as scapegoats to achieve President Trump’s desired ‘implosion’ of our health care system.”

For more information on the waivers read the detailed reporting from Manchester Ink Link

Kuster Announces Veterans’ Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Field Hearing in NH

Field hearing will examine issues at Manchester VA Medical Center, challenges to access to care for New Hampshire veterans

(Concord, NH) –Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the lead Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, announced today that she will convene a field hearing of the Subcommittee in New Hampshire to examine reports of quality of care issues at the Manchester VA Medical Center. Kuster will be joined by the Chairman of the Subcommittee, Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01). The field hearing will examine quality of care issues at Manchester VAMC as well as challenges in access to care for New Hampshire veterans. The whistleblowers who raised the issues of care at Manchester will be invited to testify at the hearing on September 18th. Time and location will be announced closer to the hearing date.

“The issues that have been raised about quality of care at the Manchester VA Medical Center need to be thoroughly examined and that means the VA Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee must hear directly from the whistleblowers,” said Congresswoman Kuster.I’m hopeful that by bringing the Subcommittee to New Hampshire we’ll be able to gain a greater appreciation for what went wrong in Manchester, how we can fix those issues, and how we can prevent this from happening in other areas. Granite State veterans deserve better, and we need to do all we can to ensure that they are able to access the services and care they need.”

“Congresswoman Kuster and I will hear directly from VA whistleblowers in Manchester next month,” said Chairman Bergman. “Our goal is to thoroughly examine the gross mismanagement and improper patient care at the Manchester VA Medical Center so this does not remain a problem for our Veterans. This field hearing will lead to greater accountability in the future within the Manchester VA Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs as a whole.”

Congresswoman Kuster wrote to Chairman Bergman earlier this month to request that the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hold the hearing to examine the concerns raised by the VA whistleblowers. In her letter, Kuster outlined the unique challenges faced by New Hampshire veterans.

“These concerns are especially troubling to me because New Hampshire is the only state, except Alaska and Hawaii, which does not have a full-service medical center,” Kuster wrote. “As the Boston Globe explained, that means New Hampshire must send veterans to private-sector community providers or other VAMCs. Given the realities of veterans’ medical care in a state without a full-service facility, we must examine the Manchester VAMC’s usage of these critical programs.”

Her full letter is available here and below.

Congresswoman Kuster has served on the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee since taking office in 2013, and has served as the Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee since 2015. As Ranking Member, she pushes for increased transparency at the VA and helps to lead the charge in Washington on the need to improve access to care for veterans across the country. The daughter of a WWII veteran, Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for the needs of New Hampshire veterans, and she frequently holds veteran roundtables, forums, and job fairs for Granite State veterans across the district.

170718_LTR_OI field hearing request on Manchester VA

Sen. Maggie Hassan: Time To Focus On Bipartisan Health Care Solutions

Last week, three of my Republican colleagues — Sens. Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski — put the well-being of the American people before partisan politics, joining Democrats to defeat a health care repeal bill that would have raised health care costs and stripped health insurance away from millions.

Members of both parties defeated this dangerous bill, and it is going to take bipartisanship to move us forward. The Affordable Care Act needs improvement; we must move on from repeal and fix what’s not working with the law, and build on the progress we’ve made in order to bring down costs for hard-working people. Some of us have already started this conversation; I was part of a bipartisan group of senators who are also former governors who recently met to find common ground.

It is possible to find bipartisan solutions, even on an issue as complicated as health care. As governor, I worked across party lines to pass a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that is delivering quality, affordable insurance to more than 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters.

Medicaid expansion has made a real difference for communities across New Hampshire, particularly for people impacted by the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis. People like Elizabeth, who I recently met at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth.

Elizabeth told us that she had been homeless and lost the custody of her son as a result of a substance use disorder. Now, Elizabeth is in recovery and working at the SOS Recovery Community Organization in Rochester, helping others get the support they need. She said that she owes her recovery to the insurance she received through Medicaid expansion.

Elizabeth’s story is a great example of what is possible when Democrats and Republicans work together to improve the health of our people.

We need to take the same bipartisan approach in Congress that we took in New Hampshire, and I am eager to work with my colleagues to find areas of bipartisan cooperation so we can make key improvements to the Affordable Care Act.

To start, we must stabilize insurance markets and protect the marketplace from the Trump administration’s actions to sabotage it, actions that are increasing the cost of health insurance premiums.

One of these destabilizing actions is the administration’s ongoing threats to withhold payments — to fund what are known as cost sharing reductions — that help lower out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-pays for individuals with health insurance plans in the marketplace. This creates uncertainty, which in turn drives up costs. That’s why I’m supporting a proposal from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, which would help lower premiums by ensuring that these payments get made.

I also joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to encourage the creation of reinsurance programs, which help reduce insurance premiums by lowering the risk to insurance companies associated with high-cost patients. At the state level, the New Hampshire Department of Insurance is also pursuing a waiver under the Affordable Care Act to establish a reinsurance program.

Additionally, we need to address the Affordable Care Act’s income cliff that currently blocks many middle-class individuals and families from receiving financial help to purchase insurance through the marketplace. This will help bring down the cost of premiums for middle class Granite Staters and allow more people to access affordable coverage.

While we work to ensure market stability and address premium prices, there are other steps we can take to bring down health care costs. One of the most common issues I hear about from Granite Staters is the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, and it’s long past time for Congress to act.

I joined my colleagues in introducing legislation to crack down on big pharmaceutical companies that hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who game the system at the expense of consumers. I also believe that we should allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs and permit the safe importation of drugs from countries such as Canada.

There is more work to do, and these are important steps that we can take now to lower costs for consumers.

Every American deserves to have access to quality, affordable care so that they can be healthy and contribute to our economy. By working across party lines, we can take important strides toward reaching that goal.

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

Planned Parenthood: Women Were Key To Killing Trumpcare

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

In a tremendous victory for women’s health, the Senate failed to pass Trumpcare.

The bill was defeated by a bipartisan vote, with every Senate Democrat voting against the bill as well as Republican Senators Collins (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Murkowski (R-AK), who stood with the women of this country.

  • Trumpcare was the worst bill for women in a generation and would have cut off access to vital health care services, disproportionately impacting women who already face unfair barriers to care, especially low-income women and women of color.
  • Trumpcare would have blocked millions from accessing birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers, increased premiums by 20% and taken away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

That’s why Planned Parenthood supporters have been vocal and persistent in their opposition to Trumpcare from day one. In recent months, an army of pink-clad Planned Parenthood patients, supporters, and advocates organized thousands of actions from coast to coast — including rallies, speak-outs at congressional town halls, lawn signs, phone banks, petition deliveries to congressional offices, and field hearings.

Over the last several months, Planned Parenthood supporters have:

  • Made more than 200,000 phone calls to members of Congress
  • Organized more than 2,200 events across the country, including rallies, petition drops, phone banks, and marches
  • Delivered over one million petition signatures to members of Congress in opposition to  “defunding” Planned Parenthood.

All told, Planned Parenthood grassroots organizing and community support was a driving force in the successful, bipartisan effort to stop Trumpcare and protect people’s access to Planned Parenthood health services.

“Women stopped this bill in its tracks. Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Against all odds, grassroots organizing defeated Trumpcare. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward.”

“It’s time politicians learned that they cannot attack women’s health and rights and expect to get away with it. This Congress — and this country — witnessed a never-before-seen groundswell of activism in response to politicians’ efforts to jam through the worst bill for women in a generation,” added Richards.  

“Women played a critical role in defeating Trumpcare and protecting access to critical care for millions of American families,” saidJennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Since day one, women have led the opposition, from organizing rallies and marches to flooding congressional town halls and hosting weekly phone banks. Americans across the country joined the rallying cry against this dangerous bill, rose up in opposition, and never let up.”

“Tens of millions of people whose health care was threatened can rest a little easier today. And the more than one million people with Medicaid coverage who rely on Planned Parenthood will still be able to come to our health centers for care. 8,118 patients will walk through Planned Parenthood health center doors again today because millions of others stood firm in this fight. Today, tomorrow, and every day after we will continue to protect their care.”

“The worst bill for women in a generation was defeated thanks to a never-before-seen groundswell of activism. We know this is the beginning, not the end, of fighting for what we believe in — but it’s a big step forward,” Frizzell concluded.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Win First Anti-Trust Case Against Big Banks

 Ruling advances case alleging world’s largest investment banks conspired to maintain anti-competitive stranglehold over $275-trillion market.

Case brought forward by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

NEW YORK  — In a critical victory for investors and traders across the country, a federal judge ruled today to uphold a majority of claims in a class action lawsuit against many of the world’s largest financial institutions for allegedly conspiring to engineer and maintain a collusive and anti-competitive stranglehold over the market for interest rate swaps (IRS) in violation of federal antitrust laws. In a decision issued by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, the court ruled that 11 “Dealer Defendant” banks, including Bank of America J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, must face claims brought forth in litigation led by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which seeks an injunction against the banks’ anticompetitive arrangement and compensatory damages.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and look forward to vigorously pursuing justice for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and other investors harmed by this conspiracy by the world’s biggest banks,” said Michael Eisenkraft, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action.

 “For far too long, the world’s banking giants have shut investors out of electronic trading, and today’s ruling is a critical victory in leveling the playing field,” said Carol Gilden, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll also representing the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and working on the case. “Interest rate swaps represent a multi-trillion-dollar market that traders across the world depend upon, and we will fight to ensure investors have access to the transparency, competitive pricing, and faster execution denied to them by the Defendant Banks.”

Interest rate swaps, which are regularly used by a broad spectrum of investors, including pension funds, university endowment funds, hedge funds, and municipalities, allow an entity to swap its fixed interest-rate payments for the floating interest-rate payments of a benchmark, or vice-versa.  Given their daily use across the financial industry, interest rates swaps are a critical, multi-trillion dollar market which investors depend upon.

According to the lawsuit filed in November 2015 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, interest rate swaps have been standardized and ripe for exchange trading for years. Exchange trading brings transparent and competitive pricing and faster execution to a market, thus bringing significant benefits to investors.

As alleged in the complaint, the market for interest rate swaps has been economically ready for standardized exchange trading, but investors remain stuck trading IRS in an inefficient and antiquated market dominated by the Dealer Defendants. The lawsuit alleges that by blocking the entry of exchanges into the IRS market, the banks force investors to trade with them in an opaque and inefficient over-the-counter market, allowing the Dealer Defendants to extract billions of dollars in higher fees and costs. According to the lawsuit, the Dealer Defendants maintained this profit center by conspiring to squash potential market entrants that threatened to bring competition and transparency to the buy-side in the IRS market. As detailed in the complaint, the Dealer Defendants have jointly threatened, boycotted, coerced, and otherwise eliminated any entity or practice that had the potential to bring exchange trading to investors in the IRS market.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Despite Eversource Assurances, Concerns Remain Relative to Seacoast Reliabilty Project 

Durham Expends $90,000 to Date on Independent, Third-Party Analysis to Protect the Health of the Great Bay Estuary

On Friday, July 28, 2017, Durham Town Manager Todd Selig submitted a listing of concerns as part of pre-filed testimony that his community has with regard to the proposed Eversource Seacoast Reliability Project, currently being reviewed by the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

The $70 million transmission line would run 13 miles from Madbury to Portsmouth, a portion of which would be constructed in the Town of Durham, including through the campus of the University of New Hampshire, and under Little Bay to Newington.

The project is intended to bolster transmission infrastructure in a region with rising power demand.  Many Durham residents have objected to the project, particularly the method of burying cables under Little Bay, arguing it will disturb sediment that could harm water quality.

“The Town of Durham wishes to go on record at this point in time as recommending that the SEC look carefully at all options that would have less impact and be less disruptive from an environmental and public interest perspective,” stated Selig.

Specifically, Durham prefers in declining order of preference the following options:

  1. To support what Durham understands to be the Town of Newington’s position that the Gosling Road Autotransformer Solution would be a far less impactful alternative to this Project;
  2. If the Transformer Alternative is not possible, then Eversource should use horizontal directional drilling (“HDD”) underneath Little Bay as a means of avoiding what could be significant impacts on Little Bay that would result from jet plowing and associated activities;
  3. If HDD is proven to be infeasible, then at a minimum the SEC should require Eversource to revise its plans, as per Durham’s experts’ testimony (see attached letter from Todd Selig to Eversource President William Quinlan dated 7/27/17 outlining concerns identified by GeoInsight-Woods Hole Group and Dr. Steve Jones of UNH), to adequately demonstrate that cable laying will occur under impact controls that will ensure adequate protection of the Little Bay ecosystem, and thus assure the residents of Durham and the Seacoast region that there will be no unreasonable adverse effects on water quality and the natural environment of Little Bay or that the impact on natural resources will be manageably limited in the Little Bay.

“The Town of Durham believes that absent consideration of these alternatives, this Project will have an unreasonable adverse effect on water quality and the natural environment, will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, and will not serve the public interest,” stated Selig.

Selig continued, “The residents of Durham consider Little Bay to be a priceless and fragile natural resource that must be protected against adverse impacts, especially when there are better alternatives available that could avoid those impacts.” 

The Little Bay and the Great Bay Estuary as a whole provides critical wildlife habitat, nurseries for seafood production, buffering from coastal flooding, recreational enjoyment, and safe harbor for marine commerce such as lobster fishing and an emerging industry of oyster aquaculture

The Great Bay Estuary also serves as a magnet for tourism supporting the local economy and increases the value of nearby properties.  This contributes to state and local tax revenues, as well as a uniquely special region within New Hampshire and Maine to live, work, and play.  The Great Bay Estuary is part of the National Estuary Program, and it is recognized broadly as an exceptional natural area in need of focused study and careful protection.

Unfortunately, the Great Bay Estuary is showing signs of a failing ecosystem. The 2013 State of the Estuaries Report, published by the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, showed 12 of 16 environmental indicators with negative or cautionary trends.

“At a minimum, it is imperative that the Eversource Seacoast Reliability Project not contribute in any way toward further degradation of the Little Bay or the Great Bay Estuary,” stated Selig.

Durham resident Vivian Miller, who is leading local opposition to the project slated to move right past her home, agrees the health of the bay is paramount and is advocating for potentially less intrusive means of burying the cable that will not stir up sediment in the water body.

The Durham community has consistently supported “Do no harm to the Bay.” The Bay’s future depends on how the SEC views the value of our precious Estuary and how they decide to protect it; particularly when there are alternatives,” said Miller.  “Eversource either clearly does not understand the delicate nature of the Bay or just thinks no one is paying attention. “It’s important: Let’s make sure!” she continued.

The Gosling Road Transformer Alternative

Representatives from the Town of Durham have been in ongoing contact with representatives from the Town of Newington to discuss the Gosling Road Transformer Alternative. Durham’s understanding of Newington’s position is that the SRP as proposed to the SEC is not in the public interest when one examines all of the required factors.  These factors include that the Transformer Alternative would impact less geography and fewer resources than the proposed Project and that the Transformer Alternative would be better from an economic growth perspective.

Durham supports Newington’s position on this issue.  It is Mr. Selig’s understanding that UNH also supports this position.

“Both Durham and UNH believe that if there is a more viable way to provide the benefits to the electrical grid of the Project without having to construct a whole new transmission line through the Town, the campus and Little Bay that this would be far preferable,” Stated Selig.

The Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Alternative

In the event that the SEC elects not to proceed with serious consideration of the Transformer Alternative, Durham believes the SEC should exercise its authority under RSA 162-H:10,V and hire an independent consultant to look into the option of HDD under Little Bay as a less impactful alternative to jet plowing, concrete mats, and significant associated activities that would be required to install the transmission cable in Little Bay.

The Town and its residents question whether Eversource has properly evaluated the HDD option.  Eversource appears to have completed a limited review of HDD, saying it will take too much time, is too expensive, has environmental risks (from slurry and bore fracking) and that it would create a high level of disturbance for residences (for the layout area) and roads.

Eversource provided generalized information (e.g., marketing brochures of HDD companies, pictures of other projects, etc.) about HDD, with their pre-filed testimony to the SEC and responses to data and record requests, but in the Town’s view it has not provided adequate and specific information to support the reasons it provides for not doing HDD.

The Town of Durham believes that Eversource did not complete an adequate analysis, such as a subsurface geotechnical investigation, to demonstrate to the public or the SEC why HDD is infeasible, or if it is in fact feasible, whether it is less impactful ecologically.

The fact that HDD could be technically challenging should not trump the negative impact of the proposed plan to Little Bay.  More specifically, such an expert should look at Eversource’s costs in the context of other public costs (i.e. costs of cleaning Durham’s and other towns’ point source wastewater discharge to comply with stricter EPA requirements, costs of cleaning Little Bay over prior decades, costs of reclaiming oyster beds by reseeding done over last 20 years, and other relevant public costs expended to revitalize the Bay).

Durham also submits that it is important for an independent, expert analysis to be done that would weigh these issues, along with the environmental risks of jet plowing and associated underwater cable installation activities raised in the Joint Little Bay Testimony, as compared with HDD. Without a clear independent comparison of the risks of jet plowing versus the risks of HDD, the Town believes that there are major uncertainties that make the project risky to the Little Bay.

“We believe that the SEC, the affected towns and their residents, and the region as whole would benefit from such an independent analysis of whether HDD is a better alternative.  Without such an independent review of HDD as compared with the current jet plowing proposal, Town residents feel they are being asked to assume significant risks without the benefit of a thoughtful and thorough analysis of what appears to be a viable and preferable alternative,” stated Selig.

Unitil used HDD in a different part of the same watershed fairly recently to place a natural gas line under the Piscataqua River as part of the Spaulding Turnpike widening project.

Durham’s Position on the SRP at this Time

“At this time, without having seen the agency reports that are due on August 1, 2017 and without having seen a thorough analysis of the Transformer Alternative and the HDD alternative, Durham believes that this Project as currently proposed will have an unreasonable adverse effect on water quality and the natural environment, will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, and will not serve the public interest,” said Selig.

To date, Durham has expended approximately $90,000 on independent, third-party expert analysis relative to the environmental impact the proposed SRP may have relative to Little Bay and the Great Bay Estuary.

State agencies are required to issue final permits and conditions to the SEC relative to the project, if any, by August 1, 2017.

To learn more about the Eversource SRP, go to https://www.eversource.com/Content/nh/about/major-projects-infrastructure/new-ham.

Letter to William Quinlan on Eversource SRP 072717

New Hampshire Taking Strides in Solar Amidst Policy Uncertainty

Image By Jonsowman FLICKR CC

Although New Hampshire lags far behind other New England states in solar policy, it has seen an explosion in the number of solar installers vying to lead the state’s clean energy transition. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New Hampshire is home to some 85 solar companies that employ 1,184 people, spurring $155 million in solar investment in the state.

The emergence of a clean energy industry in New Hampshire corresponds to a rapid rise in the number of homeowners and businesses that have chosen to go solar instead of paying for imported fossil fuels.

Approximately 9,000 New Hampshire homes are currently powered by the sun, according to SEIA, and more than half of the 57 megawatts of total solar electricity in New Hampshire was installed last year alone.

According to ReVision Energy, the state’s largest solar company, the rapid rise in solar adoption is due to increasing awareness of the costs of climate change as well as homeowners’ desire to keep their energy dollars in state and save money in the process.

“The cost for solar panels has dropped by 64% over the past 5 years, making it practical for Granite Staters to invest in a technology that comes with a 25-year warranty and proven ability to perform well in our region,” said Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy. “In fact, New Hampshire’s solar resource is equal to that of Houston, TX and only 10% less than Florida.”

Nevertheless, industry leaders say the decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to artificially reduce the value of solar electricity exported onto the grid through net metering – contrary to independent analyses that find solar electricity benefits all ratepayers by supplying maximum power at periods of peak demand – could hamper future growth.

Even more disconcerting to the solar industry is the current uncertainty around the future of state rebates for solar projects, which serve to level the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels and enable lower-income homeowners and nonprofits to reap the long-term rewards of a solar investment through lower up-front costs. With only 0.32% of New Hampshire’s electricity mix currently coming from solar, such modest incentives are considered by the industry to be an important ingredient in the state’s clean energy transition.

By contrast, Massachusetts currently generates roughly 6 percent of its electricity from solar with 30 times as many megawatts (1,592) of total solar installed, according to SEIA.

Uncertainties aside, ReVision Energy says it is not letting up on its goal of a 100% clean energy future for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to full-service solar installations, the company provides hyper-efficient heat pumps, electric vehicle charging, battery storage, and complementary technologies to support a solar-powered lifestyle. It was recently named #1 in New England by Solar Power World Magazine.

“The technology has arrived and the only question that remains is us whether policymakers will allow the burgeoning clean tech industry to truly take off in our state by leveling the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels,” said Dan Weeks, Director of Market Development at ReVision Energy. “The science is clear that solar and wind are now the cheapest sources of electricity on earth and essential for a sustainable future.”

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