Announcements

NH Senate Bill 167 killed in committee

NH Senate Bill 167 was killed by a 5-0 vote of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee March 21, 2013. The bill was deemed inexpedient to legislate, exactly what the NH Department of Environmental Services and lobbyists had asked for. The bill is dead for this session. We thank everyone who took the time to go to the public hearing and to submit written comment. Click here to review the bill’s history.

NH House Bill 663-FN would consolidate DES appeals boards

SOG encourages you to follow House Bill 663-FN which proposes to consolidate various Department of Environmental Services (DES) appeals boards into one appeals entity. The bill is assigned to the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee. In a February 26, 2013 letter, DES asked for the bill to be retained in committee for further study. The committee voted to do this March 5th, 2013. This means that the committee will continue to study the bill and obtain more information before bringing it back for a vote.If nothing happens in this legislative session, it will be carried over into the next one.

For updates about the bill’s status, you can check the bill’s docket, which also provides the bill text.

We are bringing this bill to your attention because it would substantially change the way that appeals of DES decisions are handled. Currently, there is four appeals councils, one for each program area that issues permits. For the DES overview of how the process works now, click here.

NH Senate Bill 167 restores town authority in LGWs

Senate Bill 167 seeks to amend NH’s Groundwater Protection Act (RSA 485-C) by removing the language that excludes municipalities from passing ordinances about large groundwater withdrawals. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing about the bill March 13, 2013 with written comments due March 19. You can track the bill by entering SB 167 on the Senate’s bill track page. SOG is following this legislation and supported it because we believe it offers communities more water security and might foster more of a partnership approach between the state and towns in the large groundwater permitting process. We encourage you to contact members of the Committee with your written comments by March 19 and to copy your local delegation to the General Court. You may email comments to the committee’s aide Chris Cote at christopher.cote@leg.state.nh.us

The bill, sponsored by Senator John Reagan as a constituent request of Nottingham Selectmen Chair Mary Bonser, is trying to address the power relationship between the state and towns when it comes to local water security.  Municipalities already have many ways they can act to protect water and think like a watershed such as prime wetlands zoning, aquifer protection zones, shoreland protection and declaring a proposal to be one of regional impact. It just doesn’t make sense to exclude large groundwater withdrawals which could potentially affect a town’s ability to host other businesses, expand residential housing or other land uses. Towns should not have to spend thousands of dollars defending their community water from the state’s decisions.