The Forest Society has been tracking several legislative proposals this year. Now that the 2016 legislative session has wrapped up, here's a summary of the good news and bad news from the State House.
Bad News: The 2014 Legislative Study Committee on the Status of Land Conservation found that 2/3 of the land critical to maintaining clean drinking water is unprotected.
Good News: The Legislature passed and Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law a bill (SB 380) establishing the drinking water and groundwater trust fund and establishing the New Hampshire drinking water and groundwater advisory commission. The State will set up this trust fund using the proceeds from its lawsuit against Exxon Corp. for damages related to MTBE contamination.
Bad News: The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a bill that would require the state's utilities to enter into long-term contracts to buy 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 megawatts of hydropower by 2027.
More bad news: Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut are taking proposals for large-scale “clean energy” projects under their jointly-administered New England Clean Energy Initiative.
Good news: The Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law HB 626, which will authorize and designate energy infrastructure corridors using the interstate highway corridors. As we have written about, this law will help ensure that any future large-scale energy projects do not, under the banner of reducing carbon emissions, undermine the qualities that define New Hampshire.
Bad News: The Forest Society continually suffers damages to our reservations from the dumping of garbage and the prohibited use of off-road vehicles.
Good news: The Legislature approved HB 1298, which toughens the penalties for those who are caught committing these acts.
Bad News: The Legislature approved SB 324 which will undermine conservation efforts in our state while also weakening private property rights. The Forest Society has been advocating against this onerous bill.
Good News: The Governor vetoed it. Thank you Governor Hassan!
Bad News: Despite concerns raised by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, the Legislature approved a bill, HB 1396, which allows for the use of OHRVs on public roads in Grafton County. See our letter in opposition here.
Good News: Thanks to efforts of Sen. Dan Feltes, HB 1396 establishes a commission to study the capacity of New Hampshire’s public safety agencies to enforce and properly manage the OHRV system in the state.
Better News: The Forest Society, along with the Nature Conservancy, both have seats on this Commission.