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Latest Poverty Numbers Do Not Show The Real Struggles Of NH Working Families

New Hampshire Poverty Rate Continues to Decline, but Many
Granite Staters Still Struggle with Very Limited Income

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016, down from 8.2 percent in 2015. New Hampshire continues to boast the lowest state poverty rate in the country, a distinction it has held for the last decade.

“New Hampshire’s low poverty rate masks the experiences of far too many Granite Staters who live above the federal poverty threshold and struggle to afford basic necessities,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “In particular, the state’s high cost of housing leaves many working families with little income left to put food on the table and acquire other essentials.”

The Census Bureau data finds an estimated 94,289 people in New Hampshire lived below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau for income in the twelve months preceding July 2016 is $12,391 for an individual under 65 years of age and $19,171 for a family of three with one child.

NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data for New Hampshire finds that females were more likely than males to live in poverty, with estimated poverty rates of 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Those 65 years of age or older were less likely to live in poverty, with an estimated poverty rate of 4.6 percent, than those under 18 years old, who faced a poverty rate of 7.9 percent. Child poverty declined 2.8 percent from the 2015 level. NHFPI’s analysis is available here.

The official poverty threshold understates the degree of economic insecurity in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Due to a relatively high cost of living, New Hampshire families require a significantly higher level of income in order to afford housing, child care, health care, transportation, and food, among other basic necessities. NHFPI’s 2016 report, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, outlines the shortcomings of the official poverty measures and examines alternate methods of assessing what it takes to afford a modest standard of living in various regions of the state.

New Hampshire’s low poverty rate does not provide an accurate measure of the numbers of workers struggling to get by. NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data finds that approximately 117,000 households, or more than one in five households, collected less than $35,000 in income and benefits in 2016. In contrast, the state’s estimated median household income for 2016 was $70,936.

Despite a strong economy and low unemployment rate, much of the recent job growth in New Hampshire has occurred in sectors that typically offer low wages, such as the health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services industries, and wages for many low-income workers have not kept pace with inflation. NHFPI’s Snapshot of the State’s Labor Market outlines average weekly wages in these fields and additional information.

“As New Hampshire endeavors to sustain a strong workforce, policymakers should strive to ensure that all residents have access to the necessary education and training that will prepare them for new employment opportunities and help them achieve economic stability,” added NHFPI Executive Director John Shea. “In addition, policymakers should find ways to increase the availability of housing and child care services, which are affordable to all residents.”


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Workplace Safety Groups Head To Houston To Train Reconstruction Workers

After Harvey, Immigrant and Labor Rights Groups Team Up to Provide Ongoing Health and Safety Training for Reconstruction Workers 

Harvey Flood and Damage by Jill Carlson (jillcarlson.org) FLIKR CC

Fe y Justicia Worker Center, National COSH, Chemical Workers Union and National Day Laborer Organizing Network deliver “Train-the-Trainers” sessions and prepare Reconstruction Works campaign to support recovery workers facing severe toxic health and safety hazards in the workplace 

HOUSTON, TX:  With recovery efforts underway from the devastating effect of Hurricane Harvey – and new storm damage now confronting Puerto Rico, Florida and the Caribbean – health and safety trainers as well as workers and immigrant rights advocates from local and national safety groups will be in Houston this week to train workers and community members on safe clean up procedures and their rights to a safe workplace.

Ongoing efforts are currently underway to expand and build upon past “Reconstruction Works” campaigns that have played a critical role in supporting reconstruction workers after Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Rita and other disasters.

During previous cleanup efforts recovery workers exposed to flood waters suffered skin infections, lesions, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and other conditions. Workers are also exposed to the risk of lead poisoning and asbestos exposure when working in damaged or collapsed buildings.

This week, experienced health and safety trainers from National COSH and other COSH affiliates from around the country will join local advocates from the Houston-based COSH affiliate Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center to provide “Train-the-Trainer” classes for workers and advocates, who will in turn provide awareness training in workplaces and communities throughout Houston.

“The response from COSH groups and our allies to the emergency on the Gulf Coast has been amazing,” said National COSH co-executive director Jessica Martinez, who is joining the “Train-the-Trainer” session in Houston. “Groups are sending people, sharing information and resources and helping to raise funds so that recovery workers can stay safe while rebuilding their communities.”

“Most Houston neighborhoods were somehow impacted, so workers and neighbors are cleaning up a wide range of water and wind damage that can get people seriously hurt,” said Marianela Acuña Arreaza, executive director of Faith and Justice Worker Center (Centro de Trabajadores Fe y Justicia), the premier worker center in the Houston area coordinating local efforts.

“Day laborers, construction workers, utility workers, domestic workers, as well as neighbors and volunteers, are already going into flooded and damaged buildings, where they will encounter mold, sewage, and air and water that may have been contaminated with toxic pollutants,” said Acuña Arreaza. “Our goal is to equip them with the tools and information they need to reduce the risk of getting sick, injured or killed while taking on these difficult assignments.”

“Gulf Coast communities face a massive, urgent rebuilding job, as will Florida, Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands,” said Frank Cyphers, President of the Akron, Ohio-based International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC). The ICWUC, a council of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is assisting the worker and community training effort in Houston, with support from federal grants from the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS).

“This is no time to cut corners on worker safety,” said Cyphers. “We need to build on lessons learned during recovery from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and other disasters: Workers must know their rights – and know how to assess and prevent potential hazards.”

BACKGROUND: The three-day, bilingual “Train-the-Trainer” sessions, in English and Spanish, begins today, September 13th at the Dominican Sisters of Houston campus. The curriculum will develop trainers to teach safety awareness, workplace safety rights, and information about mold, sewage, airborne and waterborne contaminants, and other hazards associated with disaster recovery.

In addition to upcoming training sessions, National COSH has partnered with NYCOSH to provide a series of fact sheets on safe clean up procedures. The fact sheets describe known hazards experienced during previous recovery efforts, including asphyxiation, building collapse, electrocution, explosion, mold, sewage, toxic contaminants and other conditions.

As recovery efforts continue in the coming weeks and months, Fe y Justicia Worker Center will operate a hotline for affected workers and provide ongoing safety awareness training at worksites and community centers.  A donation page at youcaring.com gives concerned citizens a way to support safe and sustainable recovery efforts.


Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center, based in Houston, campaigns for justice and dignity for day laborers, domestic workers and other vulnerable workers.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org

The International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC), based in Akron, Ohio, represents workers in the chemical industry and other occupations in the U.S. The ICWUC has six worker health and safety federal grants and collaborates with 10 other union partners, including National COSH, to conduct a range of worker safety and health programs and develop rank and file worker trainers.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network works to improve the lives of day laborers in the United States. NDLON works to unify and strengthen its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize and organize day laborers.

Durham Weighs Columbus Day v. Indigenous Peoples’ Day At Council Meeting This Week

Town Council to Consider Resolution Establishing “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on Monday, 9/11/17

During the Public Comments section of the Town Council meeting on February 6, 2017, Durham resident Neil Ferris spoke about a movement underway to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He said the New Hampshire State Legislature should join Vermont in this effort, and could use some nudging on this from Durham. He asked that this be placed on the Council’s agenda in the near future. 

During the Town Council and Administrator roundtable discussion at the Town Council meeting on April 17, 2017, Councilor Wayne Burton noted Mr. Ferris’ earlier request and suggested that Administrator Selig bring the request to the Durham Human Rights Commission (HRC) for discussion and then come back to the Council on whether the commission believed this was a viable idea. 

This item was placed on the HRC’s meeting agenda for June 7, 2017 and Mr. Ferris was in attendance. Mr. Ferris said his request was for Durham to replace Columbus Day with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day and also petition the State of New Hampshire to do the same. He felt that if enough communities in New Hampshire were to do this, then the state may be more inclined to follow suit. He noted that efforts should be made to encourage people to become educated about Native Americans and America’s real history and anything that can be done toward this type of effort should be embraced. 

The commission continued its consideration of Mr. Ferris’ request at its meeting on July 26, 2017. Based on the discussion held at that meeting, Administrator Selig said he had given additional thought to other possible solutions besides replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He offered an alternate name: “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, that would celebrate both the age of European exploration and the cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples, and to reflect upon the historical offenses against and ongoing struggles of indigenous people. The group discussed this notion further and consensus was to move it forward to the Town Council for its consideration.

The HRC met again on September 6, 2017 and reviewed and discussed a draft resolution introduced by Administrator Selig that would designate the second Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Durham. Some amended language was offered by members of the group and this language has been incorporated into a draft resolution for the Council’s review and consideration on Monday evening, September 11, 2017, at the Town Council meeting.  

Durham Town Manager Todd Selig stated, “After much consideration and reflection regarding the discovery of the Americas by Europeans, I have come to support this resolution to designate the 2nd Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”  Not only is it appropriate to our local history, but also to recognize and value indigenous people everywhere.  The double naming of this day will serve to encourage people to learn more about the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the “Doctrine of Discovery,” while also recognizing the devastating affects of colonialism on indigenous peoples.”

To our knowledge, Durham would be the first community in New Hampshire to establish the 2nd Monday in October as a day that recognizes Indigenous Peoples in addition to European exploration in the Americas.  A growing number of states and communities have taken such as step in recent years to include Los Angeles, Vermont, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Bangor.  

The Town Council meeting begins at 7 PM and is held at the Durham Town Hall, 8 Newmarket Road, Durham, NH.

Prayer Vigil Outside Of ICE Office Planned For Sept. 5th

Manchester, NH – Members of area religious congregations will hold a vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester on Tuesday morning to pray for an end to immigrant deportations.

“Deportations are tearing apart families, tearing apart congregations, tearing apart our communities,” said the Rev. Joseph Gurdak of Saint Anne/Saint Augustin Church in Manchester, whose congregation includes many immigrants.  “We are offering prayers for this cruel practice to end.”

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with a “Jericho Walk” around the building, led by the Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor at Brookside Congregational Church and President of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

The prayer vigil coincides with required appointments that dozens of immigrants have with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation, which has offices on the building’s second floor.

“Our traditions call on us to love our neighbors and welcome the stranger,” observed the Rev. Rev. Becca Girrell of the Lebanon United Methodist Church.  “My faith compels me to stand with those who face the danger of detention and deportation, so that if nothing else, they know they are not alone. My hope is that our presence conveys that people of faith denounce these cruel practices, support keeping families together, bear witness to the humanity and dignity of all persons, and believe in a Divine who holds all people’s lives as sacred.”

Following the Jericho Walk, prayers and readings will be led by Father John Bucchino of Blessed Sacrament Church, the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, and other faith leaders.

Among those who are required to report to ICE on Tuesday are more than twenty members of the state’s Indonesian immigrant community, whose members fled from religious persecution but who have been denied asylum in the United States.

Is Frank Edelblut Playing Partisan Politics In His Official Capacity?

Governor Sununu’s Handpicked Education Commissioner Still Engaging in Partisan Politics, Keynote Speaker at Strategy Meeting to “Further the Right’s Agenda Within the State”

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is keynote speaker at “Right of Center” political strategy meeting in September; public has a right to know if Edelblut has been participating all along – and whether any other members of Governor Sununu’s leadership team are participating in partisan politics in their official capacities 

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu’s handpicked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is still using his Commissioner position to engage in partisan politics, this time as the scheduled keynote speaker for the September 13th Right of Center political strategy meeting where “Brainstorming how to further the Right’s agenda within the state is at the forefront of conversations.”

The bi-weekly meetings are organized by former House Speaker Bill O’Brien and the Hon. Stephen Stepanek under the banner of Liberty Tree Consulting Services, and hosted at the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity office. According to the hosts, the meetings are “for elected officials and political activists, centering around how to improve communication in NH through a center right agenda” and “create ‘Right of Center’ political progress” in New Hampshire. Commissioner Edelblut is not an elected official and New Hampshire commissioners typically don’t engage in partisan politics in their official roles – although Commissioner Edelblut has frequently done so with Governor Chris Sununu’s blessing.

See meeting announcement advertising Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“It’s high time for Governor Sununu to tell his handpicked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut to stop using his official position for partisan political purposes. Commissioner Edelblut’s participation in political strategy meetings is inappropriate, and his actions in office demonstrate how far he will go to enact his far-right political ideology. Commissioner Edelblut continues to put his personal politics over the best interests of Granite State students and families, and Governor Sununu is endorsing his behavior by not putting an immediate stop to it.”

Just months into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal education department job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group literally organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; and he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – all without informing the State Board.

“While Education Commissioner Edelblut is the keynote speaker for the upcoming meeting, it is unclear whether he has been participating in the bi-weekly meetings all along or if any other members of Governor Sununu’s leadership team are participating in their official capacities as well,” Rice Hawkins said. “Administrative Services Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus ran similar political strategy meetings himself in the past before his current post. The Governor and Executive Council should check which Commissioners are abusing taxpayer time and money by engaging in partisan politics in their official capacities. Governor Sununu has a responsibility to keep his leadership team focused on addressing the real issues facing Granite Staters, instead of attending meetings designed to advance a particular political ideology.”

Air Force Agrees to Provide City of Portsmouth $1.3 Million to Continue Ongoing Pease Clean-Up Effort

 PORTSMOUTH, NH — Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to pay the City of Portsmouth $1.3 million to complete next steps in the ongoing Pease clean-up effort.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a real and ongoing commitment from the Air Force to rid the Pease wells of dangerous water contaminants,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite State families who are worried about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water deserve peace of mind, and the additional funding for this carbon filtration system is an important step forward. I’ll continue to work to improve the safety of drinking water in New Hampshire communities.” 

“The announcement of this funding from the Air Force to address water contamination at Haven, Harrison, and Smith Wells  is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to do to ensure that all Granite Staters and their families have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Senator Hassan said. “Communities exposed to emerging contaminants in their water understandably have many concerns about their health, and I will continue working with the Congressional Delegation and federal partners to ensure that those concerns are urgently addressed.”

“Today’s investment by the Air Force is a good next step toward addressing unacceptable PFC contamination in our drinking water,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I will continue to insist that the Air Force take financial responsibility for both cleaning up our water and for studying the health impacts of the level of PFC exposure that Pease-area residents have already experienced.”

Today’s Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement for Engineering Design Services will require the Air Force to provide the City of Portsmouth with funding to complete design plans for the carbon filtration system that will remove perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in water from the Haven, Harrison and Smith Wells, which are treated at the former Pease Air Force Base water treatment facility now operated by the City. This is the third agreement between the Air Force and the City for expenses related to mitigating PFC levels, which have been measured at levels exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory in local drinking water. The first two agreements provided funding for preliminary design services and for a pilot project and demonstration of PFC removal. 

To date, the financial commitment of the Air Force for Pease mitigation activities totals $25 million. The Air Force’s projected $30 million investment in 2017 includes $13 million to retrofit the water treatment facility.

Last month, Shea-Porter’s amendments directing the Department of Defense to fund a CDC health impact study of exposure to PFCs in groundwater around military installations, as well as an amendment she cosponsored to fund ongoing mitigation efforts, passed the House with unanimous support as part of its annual Defense Appropriations bill. 

In April 2017, Senator Shaheen introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, that would help strengthen Federal and state efforts to improve drinking water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act creates a national strategy to coordinate the Federal response to emerging contaminants and provides state assistance in responding to related public health challenges. Shaheen also successfully included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on the implications of perflourinated chemicals in drinking water. Both Senators and the Congresswoman continue to work to ensure that the Air Force continues to engage with the Pease community and responds to their concerns.

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

AFL-CIO Executive Council: Working People Need Real Trade Reform, Not Just Rhetoric

 (Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, July 26, 2017) – For decades, America’s trade agenda has failed working people. Last year, voters in both parties called for change. In the early days of the Trump administration, actions have been initiated on existing trade policies, from assessing the national security impact of steel and aluminum imports to considering reform of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Updating our nation’s trade deals is vital, but only if the focus is on how to increase and improve the quality of jobs. Much work lies ahead, and the direction and effectiveness of President Trump’s efforts still is unknown.

No task is more pressing than ensuring the administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA results in new rules that reflect the needs and interests of working families, not global corporations. NAFTA has failed working people in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Since NAFTA’s inception in 1994, corporate profits are up, but wages in all three countries are stagnant. Despite increased productivity, workers are not receiving a fair return on their work. There is more trade between the three NAFTA countries, but that trade is unbalanced, with the United States running consistent deficits with Mexico and Canada. The freedom to negotiate together is under attack in all three countries, diminishing the voices of working people and increasing inequality. As with other policy failures, broken trade deals disproportionately have harmed communities of color.

We can do better. NAFTA is not a failure of trade itself, but the result of trade rules rigged to favor global corporations and the wealthy elites in all three countries. Trade should be a cooperative endeavor that benefits us all. For that to happen, NAFTA must change dramatically.

NAFTA and its inequities can’t be fixed with mere tweaks or by substituting language from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership. Nor should the United States adopt a strategy that pits the working people of North America against each other. We must end the race to the bottom that hurts working families, as it impoverishes our democracy and starves investment in our public infrastructure. We must replace NAFTA’s vicious cycle with a virtuous one—with a set of rules that promote shared prosperity for workers in all three nations.

We must incorporate the lessons learned from NAFTA’s failures into its new rules. This means NAFTA’s labor provisions must be substantially strengthened to improve protections for all working people, regardless of immigration status. NAFTA’s labor rules must meet international standards. Swift and certain monitoring and enforcement tools must replace the current convoluted, ineffective process. This will require effective labor inspections and explicit protections for workers who migrate, including a ban on recruitment fees, accountability for abusive practices by employers and labor recruiters, transparency regarding wages and terms of employment, and real access to justice and legal assistance. Only when all workers share these protections will we be able to effectively join together to negotiate for a better life.

A new NAFTA, with rules that working people help write, is an opportunity to begin constructing a Global New Deal for working families. The critical elements of a new NAFTA are:

  • A democratized renegotiation process
  • Strong labor rules with swift and certain enforcement that prevent the commodification of workers
  • Elimination of corporate courts
  • Enforceable currency rules
  • Stronger rules of origin
  • Protection for responsible government purchasing and Buy American policies
  • Improved screening for foreign domestic investment
  • Improved trade enforcement as part of a robust manufacturing policy
  • Elimination of obstacles to effective trade enforcement
  • New rules to prevent tax dodging
  • Removal of rules that undermine protections for workers, consumers and the environment
  • Commitments to invest in infrastructure
  • Consumer protections that ensure financial stability
  • Prohibition of unsafe and unfair cross-border transportation services
  • Protection for intellectual property while ensuring the right to affordable medicines
  • Prohibition on global corporations from using NAFTA to capture public services for profit
  • Strong environmental rules with swift and certain enforcement

Working people and our unions are united and will mobilize with the same level of intensity as our campaign to defeat the TPP. We will work to advance a set of positive and forward-looking trade rules through a comprehensive public campaign on the ground, online and over the air. The elements of the campaign will include the follow action points:

  • Educate elected officials, policy makers, opinion leaders and all workers about the causes and effects of NAFTA and other U.S. trade policies, showing there is another way, and that we need to act collectively to achieve a higher standard of living;
  • Report and publicize the impact of NAFTA on the quality of life for North America’s working people, including the effect on jobs, wages and negotiating power;
  • Demand greater democracy, transparency and participation in the NAFTA renegotiation process—and publicize any failure to open up the process;
  • Mobilize our members, community allies and all workers to demand a better NAFTA, with rules centered on working people’s policy choices—not those of the corporate class;
  • Develop and execute joint strategies with labor movements and allies in Mexico and Canada to ensure that meaningful and effective protections for working people and higher standards are at the core of any changes to NAFTA; and
  • Utilize all available strategies, including public and social media, to broaden the base of popular engagement and advance our vision of a worker-centered NAFTA.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Wants To Support People With Alzheimer’s And Their Families

Shea-Porter Co-Introduces Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Confront the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today co-introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act and the Alzheimer’s Research Semipostal Stamp Act in recognition of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.  These two bipartisan bills have more than 50 original cosponsors and were endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a heartbreaking and growing crisis in New Hampshire. I’m co-introducing these bills because we must act now to support people with Alzheimer’s and their families, as well as to invest in research to find a cure,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter.

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 2972) authorizes grants to public and non-profit organizations to expand training and support services for families, and caregivers, of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Research Semipostal Stamp Act (H.R. 2973) requires the U.S. Postal Service to issue and sell a semipostal stamp, with the proceeds helping to fund Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health.  The bill is modeled on the popular and successful Breast Cancer Research Semipostal Stamp.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in the year 2013, and this number is expected to almost triple to 14 million by the year 2050.  The Alzheimer’s Association calculated that caregivers provided more than 18 billion hours of unpaid care for people with dementia in 2016, at an estimated value of over $230 billion. Compared with caregivers for people without dementia, twice as many caregivers for people with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical stress.

As a member of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Shea-Porter supports more research to defeat this disease and educating the public about its symptoms and effective management.

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