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Congressional Candidate Wants More “Evidence-Based” Policy Making

Almost every day we can read about another unqualified crony being appointed to run any number of federal agencies. The Trump administration has made a joke out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by appointing Scott Pruitt to lead the organization. As the Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt fought the EPA’s regulations and continually denied the science on climate change.

Another example is the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the top scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration despite the fact he is not a scientist. Clovis, a former radio talk show host, economics professor, and Trump campaign aide, openly admitted to having no degrees in agricultural or natural sciences and called climate change “junk science”.

Clovis has since withdrawn his consideration for the under-secretary position but clearly shows the Trump administration’s pattern of nominating anti-climate change, anti-science, political cronies to lead federal agencies.

With the heads of major natural science agencies being run by anti-science ideologues, it would then fall on Congress to address some of the environmental issues facing the country.

That is just one of the reasons Rye State Rep, Mindi Messmer, has decided to run for Congress. As an environmental scientist, she brings nearly 30 years of experience working to clean up the environment and protecting communities from the harmful toxins that lay dormant underground.

“I am running for Congress to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, to take precautions to mitigate the environmental causes of cancer, and to stand up to industry-backed attacks on science federal agencies like the EPA by Scott Pruitt and others,” said Messmer. “At a time when the EPA is being dismantled, and environmental policy and regulations are being decimated, I vow to fiercely advocate for evidence-based policy if elected to Congress.”

“It​ ​is​ ​encouraging​ ​to​ ​see​ ​candidates​ ​like​ ​Mindi,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​proven​ ​track​ ​record​ ​of standing​ ​up​ ​for​ ​science​ ​science,​ ​stepping​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​plate​ ​to​ ​run​ ​for​ ​office,” said Joshua​ ​Morrow,​​Executive​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​314​ ​Action after hearing of Messmer’s decision to run.​ ​”In​ ​an era​ ​where​ ​alternative​ ​facts​ ​and​ ​attacks​ ​on​ ​science​ ​are​ ​the​ ​norm​ ​at​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of the​ ​Trump​ ​Administration,​ ​Congress​ ​needs​ ​the​ ​perspective​ ​of​ ​scientists​ ​who​ ​will base​ ​policy​ ​on​ ​evidence​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​intuition.”

For 28 years, Messmer has run Terra Nova Environmental, a consulting firm that focuses on the “evaluation, design, development, and implementation of conventional and innovative in-situ and on-site technologies for remediation of contaminated sites.”

Most notably she was the first to identify and report a “pediatric cancer cluster” in five Seacoast NH towns. Her work prompted then Governor, Maggie Hassan to create a task force to investigate the “rhabdomyosarcoma and pleuropulmonary blastoma double pediatric cancer cluster.”

As head of the task force subcommittee, Messmer coordinated with the EPA and the NH Department of Environmental Services to investigate the Coakley Landfill Superfund Site, as the possible cause of the cancer cluster.

Messmer has also been leading the charge on the contaminated ground water in Merrimack, Bedford, and Litchfield linked to the Saint Gobain factory as well as groundwater contaminations linked to the Pease Air Force Base.

As a consultant, Messmer could only do so much. But as a state legislator she could write her own legislation to get the state to address these water issues. And that is exactly what she did.

Messmer was elected to the NH House of Representatives in 2016 and has already submitted a number of bills, three of which have already become law. Messmer’s bills created commissions to further study the cancer cluster and water contamination on the Seacoast as well as a commission to study “environmentally triggered illnesses” in New Hampshire.

In a brief conversation with Messmer after her announcement to run for Congress she talked about how there are more than 150 “superfund sites” similar to those at Pease AFB all across the country that need to be investigated.

Messmer is a longtime resident of Rye, NH where she lives with her husband and two teenage sons.


You can read her full campaign announcement here. Be sure to subscribe to the NH Labor News to get more news on the Congressional races in NH.

NH Delegation Questions EPA on Public Disclosure of Risks from PFOA and PFOS

Washington, DC – On Friday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) regarding reports in a recent New York Times article that described the EPA’s efforts to weaken chemical safety regulations that could affect access to public information on the risks of emerging contaminants, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), chemical materials that have contaminated drinking water in several New Hampshire communities.

“We are deeply troubled by reports and an October 21st 2017 New York Times article that described how in spite of objections from scientists and administrators in multiple offices within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), political appointees at the agency weakened recent regulations promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s principal chemical safety law. We are concerned that these actions not only ignore Congressional intent but may also deprive Granite Staters of critical information about the risks that chemical materials, particularly perfluorinated compounds, pose to their families’ health,” wrote the delegation.

The delegation continued, “In particular, we take issue with the reversal of EPA’s approach to a chemical substance’s ‘condition of use’…This change has far-reaching consequences and may limit the agency’s evaluation of legacy chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).”

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) like PFOA and PFOS have emerged as a widespread contamination in drinking water sources in several southern New Hampshire towns and were responsible for the closing of a major water supply well located at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth. While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFC exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers and immune system dysfunction.

In the letter, the delegation questions what effect the new rules will have on tracking the health consequences of PFOA and PFOS and therefore appropriately regulate these harmful materials.

Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Shea-Porter secured amendments to their respective chambers’ annual defense authorization bill that establishes the first-ever nationwide study on the human health effects of those exposed to PFCs in their drinking water. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen joined with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which addresses barriers that limit the EPA response to emerging contaminants. Additionally, as the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen included a provision in the subcommittee’s annual appropriations bill to identify research gaps in addressing the potential health implications associated with exposure to emerging contaminants. The House unanimously adopted an amendment written by Congresswoman Shea-Porter appropriating $7 million to launch the national health impact study authorized in the House and Senate-passed defense bills.

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan urged the EPA to set a lifetime health advisory for certain PFCs to help states assess the safety of drinking water. In addition, then-Governor Hassan worked with state agencies, federal partners, and residents in the area to make blood tests available to everyone potentially exposed to PFCs, as well as to raise awareness about the health risks of these emerging contaminants and to expand monitoring of wells outside of the Coakley landfill footprint. Furthermore, Senator Hassan formed the Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster to help create an organized response to the health and environmental concerns that the Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster has raised. In the Senate, Senator Hassan has built on those efforts, cosponsoring legislation that requires the EPA to develop a maximum contaminant level for perfluorinated compounds, 1,4 dioxane, and perchlorate in public water systems across America within two years of the bill’s enactment. Both Senator Hassan and Senator Shaheen urged the U.S. Air Force to clean up water supplies at the former Pease Air Force Base that are contaminated with PFCs.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have worked tirelessly to hold the EPA accountable for actions that undermine efforts to inform the public about the potential health implications caused by exposure to emerging contaminants. Earlier this month, the senators sent a letter to Acting Administrator Deborah Szaro questioning the timing of the EPA’s disclosurethat determined the Coakley Landfill does not pose an “unacceptable human health risk.” Last week, the EPA responded to the senators’ letter. Senators Shaheen and Hassan will continue to demand much needed answers from the EPA on behalf of New Hampshire families.

The letter to Administrator Pruitt can be read here and below.

10-27-17_NH delegation letter to EPA on TSCA

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.

Kuster Hosts Drinking Water Infrastructure Forum in Keene

2016-07-18 Kuster Keene Drinking Water ForumKeene, NH – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) gathered leaders from federal, state and local environmental agencies, public health organizations, and experts from across Cheshire County to discuss the current state of New Hampshire’s drinking water health and infrastructure. The forum allowed stakeholders to discuss the importance of maintaining quality water infrastructure for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes in local communities. This is the second stop on a “water tour” Congresswoman Kuster has been holding since reports that water in Litchfield, New Hampshire contained higher-than-safe levels of PFOA.

“Water infrastructure plays a critical role in New Hampshire’s ability to attract and retain both families and businesses in our communities. This infrastructure supports recreational, residential, and business opportunities that are integral to the success of the Granite State’s well-being and economy. What’s more, we must ensure that no local residents are EVER in danger of drinking contaminated water,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I organized today’s forum to bring key stakeholders together, so we could identify a path forward to guarantee necessary maintenance to of our state’s water infrastructure. We must ensure our communities have access to high-quality drinking water for generations to come. By tackling this issue proactively, we will best protect our communities from water crises down the road.”

During the briefing, Congresswoman Kuster questioned officials about the possible environmental and health impacts of aging drinking water health and systems, as well as the next steps to ensure that Granite Staters are adequately protected from the possible health issues that can result from older water infrastructure. Kuster was joined by Keene Mayor Kendall Lane; Rob Warner, the State Director of the League of Conservation Voters; Jane Downing, Associate Director of Drinking Water at the Environmental Protection Agency; Kurt Blomquist, Public Works Director for the City of Keene; and Cathy Corkery, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club, among others. Participants also discussed the status of water systems in the area, and how they can be updated and maintained to avoid public health concerns in the years to come.

Kuster is committed to ensuring that communities across the Granite State have access to safe and reliable drinking water. This spring, she met with environmental experts and local officials after water samples in southern New Hampshire revealed elevated levels of PFOA, a possible carcinogen, in the area around the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastic plant in Merrimack. In May, Rep. Kuster wrote to the EPA urging the Agency to expeditiously release a public health advisory for PFOA and PFOS chemicals, which have been found in many private wells in the Southern tier. Many New Hampshire residents rely on private wells for drinking water, and are concerned about the potential long-term health impacts of exposure to unsafe levels of these chemicals. Kuster will continue to meet with communities across the state to discuss their efforts to maintain healthy water infrastructures.

Kelly Ayotte (Again) Is Only New England Senator To Oppose Clean Water Protections

waves water lake by -jonathan-beanCONCORD – As Kelly Ayotte continues her undisguised attempt to mislead Granite Staters about her record of voting to undermine New Hampshire’s environment and beautiful natural resources, Ayotte voted this morning to oppose efforts to protect clean drinking water for millions of Americans. Ayotte was the only New England Senator to oppose these important clean water protections.

Try as she might to fool voters, Ayotte’s dismal environmental record speaks loud and clear: Ayotte has voted with the Koch Brothers 94% of the time on the environment, including voting multiple times to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and voting to block the Environmental Protection Agency from ever having the ability to reduce greenhouse gases. And Ayotte’s record has earned her a lifetime score of 23% from the League of Conservation Voters – even worse than Scott Brown’s lifetime score of 38%.

“It’s deeply troubling that Kelly Ayotte was the only New England Senator to vote against against important efforts to preserve our beautiful natural resources and protect clean drinking water for millions of Americans,” said Maggie for NH Communications Director Aaron Jacobs. “But siding with corporate special interests over New Hampshire’s environment is nothing new for Ayotte, who has fought to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and votes with the Koch Brothers 94% of the time on environmental issues.” 

“Governor Maggie Hassan has always been a strong champion for New Hampshire’s environment, and in the Senate, she will fight to put the Granite State’s beautiful natural resources first, not special interests,” added Jacobs. 

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