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Can You Be Pro-Environment and Pro-Life? NH Green Groups Say ‘No!’

What does supporting D.C. statehood or defending Roe v. Wade have to do with protecting the environment or fighting climate change?

If you want the endorsement of so-called “environmental” groups like the Sierra Club, 350NH Action, or the League of Conservation Voters — everything.

All three groups endorse a so-called intersectional view of the environment, encompassing support for things like abortion rights, voting access, support for labor unions and higher minimum wages as part of the overall Green movement.

“The environment doesn’t live in a silo. It is a multi-layered issue,” said Catherine Corkery, the New Hampshire chapter director for the Sierra Club.

As a result, candidates like Rep. Chris Pappas and Sen. Maggie Hassan who have nearly perfect scores from the League of Conservation Voters earned them, not by fighting against fossil fuels, but by supporting police reform. And money donated to the LCV to fund candidates committed to conservation is distributed in part based on positions like supporting late-term abortion.

Corkery said candidates for public office who want the Sierra Club’s endorsement need to show strong support for clean air and water, but also things like voting rights and economic justice.

“The Sierra Club uses a variety of issues to review people as candidates. The environment is multi-faceted. Our lives are complex and so is the environment,” she said.

For example, greater access to voting rights means people can more easily vote for pro-environmental policies and candidates, Corkery said.

350NH Action goes further, demanding that candidates seeking their endorsement adhere to a progressive platform far beyond strictly environmental issues.

“Climate is an intersectional issue, so we only endorse candidates who have strong stances on progressive issues we and our partners also fight for like: racial justice, immigrant justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive justice, healthcare for all, a family-sustaining minimum wage, public education, Indigenous rights, gun safety, disability rights, ending mass incarceration, and reducing income inequality,” the group states on its website.

A representative for 350NH Action did not respond to a request for comment. Nor did they explain why they’ve publicly criticized Hassan and Pappas over immigration policy but not their embrace of more oil drilling or tax cuts for fossil fuels.

Then there’s the LCV’s scorecard for lawmakers, which counts votes for amnesty of illegal immigrants, support for statehood for Washington D.C., and support for abortion rights as positive votes for the environment. Pappas earned a score of 100 percent in 2021 thanks to votes in favor of a law federalizing state elections and impeaching President Trump.

American Conservation Coalition (ACC), a conservation organization that promotes free-market solutions to environmental problems, thinks the LCV is on the wrong track.

“It seems like LCV is really more of a Democratic front-group than (an) environmental group,” said Quill Robinson, ACC’s vice president of government affairs. “I think that’s a real shame because there are important climate change issues and environmental issues and policies where Democrats and Republicans agree, but I think LCV is more intent on beating up Republicans and helping Democrats get re-elected than making real progress on environmental issues.”

The LCV regularly takes left-wing positions on topics that are unrelated to conservation. The LCV recently reacted to the United States Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case, which turns the question of abortion back to state legislatures, by calling for expanding the court.

“Make no mistake, today’s decision is the result of a concerted decades-long right-wing effort to capture our courts and roll back the rights of women, girls, and all people who can become pregnant,” the LCV wrote. “Congress must act immediately and expand the number of justices who serve on our nation’s highest court.”

Robinson said the group even went so far in its partisanship that it took a stand against a police reform bill, because it was proposed by a Republican.

“The one in particular that left me scratching my head was, according to the League of Conservation Voters, voting against a police reform bill by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the pro-environment position,” Robinson said. “Sen. Scott was trying to address issues around police, and it got lots of support from many different people but that’s not a topic related to the environment.”

Barbara Richter, the executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions, said hyper-partisanship on both sides is making it harder to do the necessary work to guarantee clean air and clean water, and protect open spaces.

“Looking more broadly, I think the political climate has impacted every issue out there,” Richter said. “A decade ago, there were more common goals, and a common belief that the environment is an important component for everybody’s health and well-being.”

While both Republicans and Democrats in New Hampshire include protecting the environment in their platforms, getting individual lawmakers in Concord to do something can be tough because of the partisanship, she said.

“I think that’s just the culture of politics these days. People are really picking sides and not budging,” Richter said.

Danielle Butcher, vice president of the ACC, blames the LCV and other far-left environmental groups for making conservation and dealing with climate change a partisan issue, and alienating conservatives who might otherwise support environmental protections.

“The LCV and groups like it have been at the forefront of the movement that successfully politicized climate change,” Butcher said in a recent op-ed. “An environmental advocacy group should score legislators based on their work to address the root causes of climate change, not whether or not they voted to impeach a former president or voted for a partisan voting rights bill. By shunning any and all congressional Republicans, LCV is only hurting its ability to advance real solutions.”

With additional reporting by Chris Woodward



Two Energy Issues Facing the NH Legislature Under Gov. Sununu’s Term

It’s New Hampshire Energy Week in the Granite State. Throughout the week, lawmakers and energy policy advocates discussed some of the challenges facing the state, solutions to solve these problems, and important pieces of legislation coming up in the next two years.

Under the Republican-controlled Legislature, it’s not exactly clear what energy policy issues the GOP leadership and Gov. Chris Sununu are going to prioritize, but there are some interesting bills that could come up for a vote during Sununu’s term.

Here are two controversial energy bills in front of the Legislature this session:



Rep. Michael Harrington, R-Strafford, is sponsoring House Bill 592, which would end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cap-and-trade program where utilities pay for carbon dioxide emission allowances. This serves to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The funds from these allowances are used for energy efficiency projects and ratepayer rebates.  Currently, eight other states in the Northeast participate in the program. New Jersey was also a member of RGGI, but pulled out of the program in 2011.

This bill has been opposed by pro-energy and environment groups like the NH Sierra Club and the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association (NHSEA).

“Repealing RGGI would be a mistake for New Hampshire in terms of our economy, our environment and our public health,” said Michelle McCarthy, campaign organizer of Environment New Hampshire, at a hearing on the bill in February in front of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.

Opponents of the bills point to an Abt Associates report that was released in January, which estimates that the state avoided $100 million in higher health care costs by reducing pollution. They claim that since RGGI’s inception in 2008, electricity prices have decreased in the participating states by 3.4 percent, while costs nationally have increased by 7.2 percent.

Supporters of pulling out of RGGI say New Hampshire still has some of the highest energy costs, especially for commercial and industrial companies. With high energy costs, businesses are looking to move or expand in other states.

“This is not rocket science, and companies like Sig Sauer are doing the math and realizing it’s cheaper to move jobs out of New Hampshire to cheaper-power states,” said Greg Moore, state director of American’s for Prosperity, at the hearing.

In December, Sig Sauer announced it was expanding its operations in Arkansas, and New Hampshire’s high electric rates was a motivating factor. The company is still retaining its offices in the Granite State, though, and it was announced this year that the company was awarded with a whopping $580 million, 10-year contract with the U.S. Army to manufacture its pistols.

A University of New Hampshire research study released Tuesday determined that New England does not need to increase energy use to continue to grow its economy.

“It is important to prevent further increases in the cost of energy and ideally to reduce the overall cost of electricity in New Hampshire, especially for customer groups adversely affected by the state’s relatively high electricity prices, including more intensive commercial and industrial users as well as low-income households that pay a greater portion of their income for energy,” the researchers noted.

Kate Epsen, a member of the NHSEA, said it’s time to quash the belief that just because of New Hampshire’s energy prices, businesses are leaving or not coming to the state.

“We hear a lot of clamor over these high rates, but the bottom line of the bills people receive is that they are the same or lower than the national averages,” she told NH Journal. “We need to weigh the risks versus rewards of a single, very large type of project or more energy efficient technologies that are more broad based and keep jobs and dollars in the state economy.”

Epsen alluded to the ever controversial Northern Pass project — the 192-mile proposed hydroelectric line from Canada to Deerfield. Proponents of the project says the power would reduce energy costs for residents and businesses, but opponents cite possible environmental issues from putting the lines underground to high towers ruining New Hampshire vistas and impacting tourism. The state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) is expected to decide in the fall if the project will move forward or not.

However, Moore and supporters of RGGI agreed that perhaps the program shouldn’t be repealed, but could be made better to fit New Hampshire’s needs.

He said all the money collected should be rebated to customers, which could save homeowners $1.3 million a year and commercial and industrial customers could save $2 million.

Catherine Corkery, chapter director of the NH Sierra Club, said the program should be made better, not eliminated.

“The politically motivated repeal bills are putting the program at risk every year, making it unstable and difficult for users to rely on,” she said. “Repeated repeal threats exhaust resources and delay helping people.”

The bill has been retained in committee, meaning after working on the bill during the summer months, it could come up again for a vote in the next legislative session. A complicating factor to the debate is the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP), former President Barack Obama’s initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. RGGI currently satisfies the federal requirements for the plan, yet President Donald Trump has pledged that he would dismantle CPP and could do so as early as next week.

Sununu indicated on the campaign trail that he would consider withdrawing from RGGI, but only if other states also left.



House Bill 225 would repeal the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which would require 17 percent renewables to be used by the state’s utilities this year. Those renewable energy sources include wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, solar panels, and even biomass plants.

If a utility does not meet its quota for renewable energy, it must make payments to the renewable energy fund, which is then spent on grants and rebates for individuals and businesses working on renewable energy projects.

New Hampshire’s RPS sets annual targets for electricity providers, and they meet targets by earning renewable energy certificates (RECs) for selling renewable power to retail customers. They can also buy RECs from other providers to comply.

Supporters of a repeal say renewable energy is more expensive than other energy sources, so the RPS forces consumers to pay for more expensive electricity. When utilities do not buy enough renewable energy, they essentially pay to subsidize more renewable energy projects. Due to these subsidies, there is little incentive for renewable energy sources to lower their prices. The legislature has also used money from the renewable energy fund to pay for unrelated budget items in the past.

Supporters of the RPS argue the law is necessary to ensure the development of renewable energy. A shortage of natural gas in New England caused electricity rates to spike over the winter months, highlighting the need for more diverse and renewable energy sources. Grants from the renewable energy fund also contribute significantly to the North Country economy, for the biomass and forestry industries.

Rep. Bart Fromuth, R-Bedford, sponsored a similar bill in 2015, but the House tabled it. However, the bill with an amendment was passed by the House in a Thursday executive session.

The Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance — a nonpartisan organization looking to give citizen’s a voice in their local government — conducted a Facebook survey of New Hampshire residents on their support for the bill in January.

Approximately 55 percent said they were opposed to repealing the RPS, compared to 45 percent who were in favor of repealing, the survey found.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley has been a leading voice of energy policy in New Hampshire. He said he understand the concern of high energy prices, but doesn’t believe the bills repealing RGGI and RPS will ultimately pass.

“When all is said and done, the current laws will largely stay in place,” he told the Associated Press. “What we need to do in New England is to site new sources of generation in a way that protects people’s property values and their rights. That is a tough needle to thread.”

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