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New Report Shows Significant Gains Could Be Made If Governor Sununu Reduces Power Plant Pollution

Tilton, NH – As the federal government attempts to roll back programs that limit air pollution, Toxics Action Center, Environment New Hampshire and other partner groups released a new report showing that Governor Sununu could increase the benefits of reducing power plant pollution. The report, Doubling Down on Climate Progress, concludes that increasing the emissions reduction goals from 2.5% to 5% doubles the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would cut dangerous pollution from power plants in half by 2030 and double our investment in clean energy – enough to weatherize 380,000 homes, or well over half of the homes in the state.

“Right now, we’re counting on Governor Sununu to take action to protect our health and the climate,” said Dan Westervelt, Vermont and New Hampshire Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center. “Tomorrow, on April 20th, the public comment period of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the regional clean air and climate protection program, will be opened. We are urging Granite Staters to call on Governor Sununu to double the strength of the program so we can reap the benefits we receive from less pollution and more clean energy.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) is the best regional clean air and climate protection program in the country. This program limits dangerous pollution from power plants in New Hampshire and across the region – helping to slow the warming of our planet. It also fuels investment in clean energy by making polluters pay to pollute.

The report, co-authored by the Frontier Group, illustrates the opportunity before the governor. It finds that doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (compared to simply keeping the program on its current trajectory) would:

  • Avoid up to an additional 100 million tons of pollution over a decade, the equivalent of making more than 1 million homes run entirely on solar power.

  • Help New Hampshire invest twice as much in clean energy – on the order of $84 million over ten years, or enough to weatherize 380,000 homes.

“Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline served as a wakeup call for us to fund and support RGGI,” said Pat Martin, an activist who worked on stopping Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline with the community New Hampshire Pipeline Awareness Network (NH PLAN). “To tackle the climate crisis, we need to quickly shift away from dirty fuels like coal and gas, and move to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative can help us get there faster.”

The report also reviewed the impressive benefits the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has achieved for New Hampshire since it was created in 2005. Key findings include:

  • It has helped to cut global warming pollution from power plants 67%. That is the equivalent of retiring 1.6 coal-fired power plants. On average, power plant pollution in the region has been falling by almost 5 percent per year. In 2016, pollution went down by 4.8 percent.

  • It has helped to clean our air, saving 10 lives over its first six years in operation.

  • It has driven a $116 million investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and consumer benefit programs in New Hampshire. Across the whole region, those programs have locked in more than $4.6 billion in long term savings on our energy bills. That’s an incredible $3.5 in savings for every dollar spent on clean energy.

“The energy efficiency project that we did at the Winnisquam School District took advantage of approximately $31,000 in (RGGI-funded) rebates for lighting and variable frequency drive pumps” said former State Representative of Belknap 4, Ian Raymond. “Of the funding for the project, $31,770 came from RGGI. We replaced old pumps with newer energy efficient pumps with Variable Frequency Drives, and replaced approximately 2400 lighting units with energy efficient lights. All of the efficiency upgrades all together has saved the taxpayers $1.38 million so far and is projected to save over $5 million over the life of the project.”

In February, more than 500 organizations, businesses, health professionals, lawmakers and community leaders from the Northeast called on Governor Sununu and other regional governors to double the strength of the program and close several loopholes.

“As good as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is, we can make it better,” said Madeline Page, of Environment New Hampshire. “We need Governor Sununu and governors across the region to accelerate our progress in the fight against global warming, and magnify the important benefits that come from reducing pollution.”

 

After The Voting: What’s Next For Energy And Climate Issues In New Hampshire?

Environmental groups host 2016 Post Election Round Table 

CONCORD, NH – How will the current environmental protections continue to safeguard our public health with the dramatic shift in the administration in the White House and the State House? Energy saving and pollution reduction programs, once a unifying non-partisan issue, are now a cause for great division and political strife.  Over 100 people attended a roundtable discussion with a number of local experts provided a greater understanding of how the programs work and their wide ranging benefits.  Speakers included Representative Bill Baber of Dover, Taylor Caswell of the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, Jack Ruderman of Revision Energy and Rebecca Whitley of Mom’s Clean Air Force. Sam Evans-Brown of New Hampshire Public Radio acted as the moderator.  

The dramatic two-year presidential campaign’s final conclusion has many people questioning the future of the country’s policies concerning many issues from foreign relations, the economy, healthcare, marriage equality, abortion, job growth, taxes and the environment. Over the course of the election, voters polled consistently in the Granite State and across the country said that they support action on climate change and renewable energy. New Hampshire participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a nine state market driven carbon pollution reduction program that promotes investments in energy efficiency, weatherization, building retrofits and renewable energy. RGGI is the model for the recently introduced national carbon reduction program called the Clean Power Plan. Both President-Elect Trump and Governor-Elect Sununu have stated differences with the current administrations’ support for the market based energy saving programs aimed to create climate solutions. Candidate Trump went so far as calling climate change a “hoax by the Chinese” in a tweet.

The post-election roundtable discussion was held at the Concord Public Library in Concord, NH and hosted by the League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environment America, Mom’s Clean Air Force, National Wildlife Federation and New Hampshire Sierra Club. The host organizations highlighted opportunities to reach out to the new administrations in the State House to demonstrate support for energy saving programs, offering to arrange meetings, monitor legislation and creating meaningful actions.

The roundtable was broadcasted live on Facebook (include below) and comments posted on Twitter that can be seen @NHSierraClub. 

Quotes and Brief Biographies of Speakers

NH State Representative Bill Baber:

 “We are about to experience a governmental change with greater unknowns following any previous election.  This is especially true for the environment, energy, and our economy.”

Bill Baber is an outgoing member of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee where he acted as the Democratic ranking member.  He is a Vietnam era veteran with a rich academic and employment background ranging from film making to computer science.

Taylor Caswell:

“The economics of climate change will continue, regardless of what a government may or may not do.  Every time a business or a municipality finances a project through our Clean Energy Fund, they cut their energy costs, and that reduces carbon emissions.  It’s a basic operational and financial decision that increasingly makes the most sense for New Hampshire organizations.”

Taylor Caswell is the executive director of the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, whose mission is to facilitate community economic development across the state with financial and technical resources.  CDFA’s total assets under management each year exceed $30 million, and include the New Hampshire Clean Energy Fund which provides resources for energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy integration for organizations statewide.

Rebecca Whitley:

“We cannot allow President-Elect Trump, or our New Hampshire elected officials, to wage a war on public health.  The progress on climate action over the last 8 years is important for our children’s health and for future generations. We need to organize and become the checks and balances to protect our children against any attack on their health and well-being.”   

Becky Whitley is the field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force in New Hampshire. She received a B.B.A. from George Washington University and a J.D. from Vermont Law School. Becky has always been committed to social justice and children’s health. She comes to Moms Clean Air Force after many years of practicing public interest law, representing adults and children on important disability rights issues and participating in policy advocacy. Becky works to mobilize parents in New Hampshire and advocates for children’s right to clean air and a healthy climate. 

Jack Ruderman

Jack Ruderman is the Director of Community Solar Initiatives for Revision Energy, an ambitious effort to solarize municipalities, nonprofits, and schools throughout the Granite State, as well as organize the development of community solar farms. Jack previously served as Director of the Sustainable Energy Division of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, where he was responsible for administering the state’s Renewable Energy Fund. He also served 12 years at the New Hampshire Governor’s Office of Energy and Planning.  He holds a B.A. in political science from Tufts University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.

Moderator Sam Evans-Brown

Sam Evans-Brown is a reporter and host on New Hampshire Public Radio. Covering the environmental beat for NHPR, Sam’s reporting won him several awards, including two Edward R. Murrow awards, and he was also a 2013 Steinbrenner Institute Environmental Media Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. Last year, Sam helped launch a new show called Outside/In to further explore his environmental interests. Find the show http://outsideinradio.org/  on Twitter and Face Book @OutsideInRadio.

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