By just four votes, the New Hampshire House of Representatives fell short of overriding the Governor’s veto of House Bill 183. If approved, the legislation would have provided support to New Hampshire's six independent wood energy power plants.
HB 183 was one of the Forest Society’s priority bills this year. Forest Society President Jane Difley wrote an OP-ED recently in support of the veto override effort.
The two-hundred-fifty-one votes in favor of overriding the veto demonstrate the bipartisan support for the forest-based economy in our state and for the health of our forests. Unfortunately, it was not enough to reach the needed threshold of two-thirds of House members present to overcome the veto.
The outcome of the vote will raise questions about the future of the biomass plants and the future of low grade wood markets. These markets are critical to long-term sustainable forest management conducted by forestland owners. Keeping forests as forests, and keeping forests healthy, matters to everyone who lives in NH, because, as Jane points out in her OP-ED column, nearly three-fourths of New Hampshire’s forestland is privately owned. These private forest lands provide filtered drinking water for all of us. They purify air and provide critical wildlife habitat. They reduce flooding by storing water during spring snowmelt and in heavy rain events. They support rural economies and recreation. And, importantly, they store carbon.
The question of how to ensure forest owners will be able to manage and steward their forestland will need to addressed in the coming months. It is an issue the Forest Society intends to continue to pursue. For now, however, we would encourage readers to thank the House members who voted in support of HB 183