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District 15’s Democratic Senate Candidates Talk About the Environment

With the primary less than two weeks away, GreenLifeNH asked the candidates to share their plans for addressing environmental issues. Here are their answers. Remember – voting is a free and easy way to protect the Earth and fight climate change. Our home needs to be at the forefront of our minds as we head to the polls. We cannot elect people who consider global warming a hoax or side issue to ignore. Please free free to comment below with questions.

Candace Bouchard

What is your number one environmental priority?

Begin the planning to build a zero-carbon transportation system. Transportation is our number one contributor to global warming, and public transportation is woefully inadequate in New Hampshire, which greatly impacts folks’ ability to get to work. We need to focus on transitioning to electric vehicles, light duty trucks, buses, and school buses, as well as building the infrastructure to support electric vehicle transportation. This includes addressing the roadblocks to expanding both inner city bus systems and intra city bus systems. A carbon free transportation system will not only result in cleaner air and healthier communities, it will provide a boost to our state’s workforce and economy.

How will you work to accomplish this goal?

Working with stakeholders such as, the transportation industry, environmental organizations, the Department of Transportation, and Department of Environmental Services. I will also build on current policies, state, and regional programs already in place, along with identifying funding sources.

Paul Hodes

What is your number one environmental priority?

Climate change is an existential priority. We have a very short time, as a planet, before the disastrous effects become permanent. As a United States Congressman, I earned a 98% lifetime LCV score and helped lead, with Jay inslee, the US House energy caucus. As a member of the financial services committee, I drafted legislation to create renewable energy information centers at banks and to provide incentives for banks to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency homes and home improvements. It is incumbent on every one of us, every government, everyone to become a climate champion. Right now, I am running, in large part, to turn New Hampshire from a Climate laggard into a Climate leader. I want to introduce a New Hampshire Green Initiative to involve all the levers of our state government in the effort. We should set an aggressive goal for net-zero emission energy production. Just as the Apollo Alliance argued a decade ago, transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a clean renewable energy economy can produce jobs and enhanced quality of life. New Hampshire is in a unique position to take the lead on tackling climate change. We benefit from our smaller population and our rich natural resources, which have not been over exploited. We can continue our NH tradition of protecting our air, rivers, lakes, forests, mountains and oceans, and preserving our traditional family farms. We can support clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal and boost our economy at the same time. These are not mutually exclusive, in fact I believe we can move NH into a sustainable future, leapfrogging us over the environmental mistakes others have made. We need to incentivize larger-scale solar and renewable energy to move us away from fossil fuel dependence, lowering energy costs for businesses and consumers, and protecting the environment, clean air and clean water. We can get tough on polluters, incentivize clean industry and rebuild post-pandemic using green technologies that create good paying jobs. We can support historic family farms, local organic agriculture, growing our own food right here, to make NH more resilient and food secure in times of crisis. We can support our rural economy, increase food security, preserve tradition, and fortify the health and happiness of everyone in the Granite State. All at the same time. That’s why I’m working to bring clean renewable energy to towns, schools and businesses around New Hampshire and why I support sustainable organic local family farms.

How will you accomplish this goal?

There are many initiatives to pursue including; setting aggressive goal for transition to clean renewable energy economy, a New Hampshire Green initiative, expansion of net metering, updating existing PACE legislation to incentivize net zero and energy efficiency, creation of a Public Bank to include support for green infrastructure, funding the State departments responsible for transitioning state owned properties to energy efficient structures, opposing fossil fuel pipelines, protecting our clean air and clean water, supporting hydro and wind deployment, using RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) funds for energy efficiency incentives, joining the TCI (Transportation Climate Initiative).

Becky Whitley

What is your number one environmental priority?

The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed everything and left an economic crisis in its wake. But recovery from both of these crises cannot ignore another looming crisis – climate change. Climate change impacts all of us and is a clear and present danger to New Hampshire’s public health and economic future. That is why we need to ensure we are building a modern, healthy, and more equitable clean energy economy as part of our recovery effort. This includes shifting New Hampshire’s energy to 100% clean, local, and renewable sources, which presents a tremendous opportunity for economic stimulus and good job creation. Reducing fossil fuel emissions will also protect our beautiful state, improve overall public health, and address the climate crisis in a real way. We have to act without delay and also ensure New Hampshire’s fossil fuel workforce transitions to well-paid jobs in the clean energy economy.

How will you work to accomplish this goal?

As a former climate advocate and grassroots organizer and secretary of the my local recycling committee, I have the know-how to fight for clean and renewable energy solutions, zero-waste policies, and improved renewable energy and efficiency programs in New Hampshire. There are several critical steps to getting to 100% clean and renewable energy in New Hampshire, including:

1) Creating a codified climate action plan based in science that sets mandatory emission reduction targets – a policy proven to drive innovation and create new jobs.

2) Building and improving upon the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a market-based program to reduce carbon pollution. New Hampshire’s RGGI revenues should be invested back into the clean energy economy, energy efficiency, and support for municipalities and school districts – not just returned to ratepayers, which only benefits the largest ratepayers and largest businesses in the state and does achieve our overall goals.

3) Joining the transportation-focused companion to RGGI, called the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). New Hampshire has a very high national rate of asthma, which is only exacerbated by air pollution and extreme heat and precipitation caused by climate change. Our current cars, trucks, and buses are a major source of air pollution and the largest single source of greenhouse gas pollution in New Hampshire. We need to make electric vehicles and mass transit a top priority.

4) Raising the cap on net metering, which allows solar owners to sell excess solar energy back to the grid so they only pay the utility for their “net” energy use. New Hampshire lags every other New England state in renewable power. Lifting the arbitrary cap on net-metering ratepayers would boost renewables and create good jobs in the process.

5) Using all means available in our Renewable Portfolio Standard to set ambitious but achievable renewable energy goals.

6) Increasing investments in frontline and marginalized communities to mitigate the impacts of climate change and pollution while ensuring access to clean energy job opportunities. Because we know that the impacts of climate change and pollution are disproportionately borne by communities of color and low-income communities with the fewest resources to fight back, we must always advocate for both the protection of people and the planet.

7) Working on zero-waste policies to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, made primarily from fossil fuel–based chemicals. Plastic is putting a strain on waste management systems, our oceans, and vulnerable communities the world over. Plastic also has negative impacts on the climate because plastic production contributes to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions at every point in its life cycle.

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