Top Ten Bills of 2012 for NH’s Environment
As presented at our Annual Legislative Breakfast, please be sure to catch up on the best bills of 2012 for NH’s environment!
HB 1481 To Improve Water Quality in Great Bay and other Impaired Water Bodies
Nitrogen pollution from non-point sources has led to a degradation of the water quality in the Great Bay estuary as well as in other water bodies across the state. One of the significant causes of such pollution is the run-off associated with nitrogen fertilizers – especially slow release fertilizers packaged for home use. This bill would ban the retail sale of certain slow release nitrogen fertilizers - mimicking a successful effort in the Chesapeake Bay that has led to improved water quality.
HB 648 To Safeguard Property Owners’ Rights
Eminent Domain bill (Forrester/Bragdon amendment)
In 2006, the NH electorate adopted a constitutional amendment to prohibit the taking of private property by eminent domain for the purpose of a private development or use. This bill updates the state statute governing utility access to eminent domain (RSA 371:1), making clear that when a private development by a utility is proposed, the utility does not have the right to petition the Public Utilities Commission for eminent domain.
SB 224 To Save NH Loons
Lead sinkers and jigs used in our lakes, rivers and streams have been linked to loon mortality, a threatened species in New Hampshire. In 2000, then state representative Jeb Bradley led an effort to ban the sale and use of lead sinkers and jigs that threatened the loon population. This bill seeks to update the successful 2000 law by defining other lead equipment by weight to create consistency in state law and provide better protections for this endearing species.
SB 265 To Create a Definition for Stormwater
Stormwater is one of the leading causes of contamination and pollution of water in New Hampshire. As rain water runs off houses and across roads, pollutants are carried into lakes, rivers and streams, affecting water quality. In 2008, a commission was established to look at the problem of stormwater across the state and recommend legislative solutions to reduce its impact. The Committee released its findings in November 2010. The first recommendation was for the state to agree upon a definition of stormwater in statute in order to clarify and guide future state and municipal action. This bill utilizes the wording that the bipartisan commission authored and is consistent with the federal definition.
SB 215 To Optimize Review for New or Modified Power Plants
As New Hampshire continues to develop new renewable energy – as well as traditional fossil based facilities – it is essential that the committee tasked with investigating the environmental impacts have the tools they need to ensure the facilities are properly sited. This legislation seeks to provide a modest set of technical improvements to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee (“SEC”) statute. Overall, the changes are intended to enhance and optimize the SEC’s ability to carry out its vital role in rigorously reviewing proposals for new or modified energy facilities, including the Northern Pass proposal and other future projects, to determine whether they are in the public’s best interests.
SB 218 To Expand the Classes of Energy of the Renewable Portfolio Standard
New Hampshire renewable energy law, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in 2007, called for a comprehensive review of the program in 2011. This bill makes some of the recommended changes to the program, and includes renewable thermal energy as a component of the state’s program – a change that will utilize an important NH renewable energy source, and puts the state in the forefront of national renewable energy laws. While not perfect, this bill continues the New Hampshire tradition of including a broad stakeholder process in order to develop a program that works for everyone.
SB 252 To Increase the Term of Energy Performance Contracts
There is much energy efficiency work to do across state government as the state building stock continues to age and improvements are needed. New Hampshire has long used Energy Performance Contracts that use cost savings from reduced energy consumption to repay the cost of installing energy conservation measures. This bill extends the length of time (from 10-20 years) allowed for these projects to pay back, creating increased flexibility in planning and allowing for a greater range of possible projects.
HB 1489 To Allocate more Money to Oil Cleanup
This bill, filed at the request of the Department of Environmental Services would make additional resources available for oil clean-ups caused by such things as defective heating oil tanks. There is a continued demand for these funds, but over the past several years, the monies have not been available. This legislation would return the fund to its historic level.
SB 237 To Increase Financial Success and Efficiency of our State Parks
This bill would help the state be more efficient and reactive to the repair and maintenance of our state parks and trail networks. With a more expeditious manner of approving repair projects, this bill enables our Department of State Parks to maintain our parks and trails in the best method possible with an eye toward tourism and a promoting healthy economy.