Getting more money to preserve land, operate state parks, protect wildlife and regulate polluters top the 2007 environmental agenda of a broad coalition of groups.
Legislative leaders embraced this first-ever collaborative effort the Granite State Conservation Voters Fund organized and promoted at a breakfast meeting of lawmakers Thursday.
“I think great things are going to happen this year, and it’s great to feel like you’re in the mainstream,” said former state Sen. Rick Russman, a Kingston Republican who serves on the GSCVF board of directors.
“When I was in the Senate, I sometimes felt like serving in a one-man army.”
House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, said she’s committed to pursuing this agenda and praised the work of environmental groups to get behind this proposal.
“It is certainly unique that a group as varied as this can come together and speak with one voice,” Norelli said.
Supporters concede the agenda is only an outline and will require their hard work in cooperation with industry leaders to fill in the blanks.
“We’re pragmatic and realize it doesn’t make sense to get behind something that can’t possibly happen in our state,” Russman said.
“We’re committed to working with industry to achieve these priorities.”
For example, private negotiations between utility and environmental stakeholders are continuing to try and set a renewable energy standard on which all parties can agree.
The so-called renewable portfolio standard would compel electricity sellers to have a percentage of the power they sell to come from renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar, wood and geothermal sources.
“Increased use of clean and renewable energy is doing the right thing for our environment and is also doing the right thing for our economy,” Norelli said.
Gov. John Lynch has embraced a national effort to achieve a renewable energy standard throughout society of 25 percent by the year 2025.
The groups plan to push to find a permanent way to finance the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program that has struggled in getting support from the Legislature over the past several years.
The goal is to get LCHIP $12 million for the next two years. It only received $1.5 million from the state in the current budget.
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, said the Senate will deliver that support and is considering “several, potential alternatives” to give LCHIP a dedicated source of money.
Rep. James Phinizy, R-Acworth, has written legislation the group favors to ban the sale of most mercury products and prevent the burning of it in landfills and incinerators.
Doug Bogen of Clean Water Action said he doesn’t expect this bill to split the environmental community, as did a 2005 law that calls for the reduction of mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.
“I’m not sure there is going to be any opposition to it,” Bogen said.
Supporters agreed to exempt from the bill products made for “national security” such as electronic switchers that BAE Systems manufactures in the state.
The final priority calls for creation of a state plan to deal with the effects of climate change.
Norelli said New Hampshire should not trail all other New England states as it does in this area.
By Kevin Landrigan, Telegraph Staff
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