The Merrimack Valley Voice

Breaking News * Press Releases * Updates

To contact us:

Penacook, NH

603.568.0428

Contacts:  Elizabeth Heyd, NRDC, 202-289-2424, eheyd@nrdc.org

                      Gaye LaCasce, New Hampshire Audubon, 603 224-9909 ext 307  glacasce@nhaudubon.org

                      Rob Burbank, Appalachian Mountain Club, (603) 466-8155, rburbank@outdoors.org

 

Dirty Tar Sands Fuel is headed for New Hampshire

 

January 23rd, 2014- Granite State motorists could soon be filling their tanks with gas increasingly derived from dirty Canadian tar sands oil, says a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and regional partners New Hampshire Audubon, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the National Wildlife Federation.

 

While the concerns raised by New Hampshire citizens may help forestall tar sands crude from flowing through the state via a reversed Portland-Montreal pipeline, we could nonetheless suffer a backdoor inflow of tar sands oil—as refined fuels.

 

A flood of dirty fuel into New Hampshire would undercut the state’s prior efforts to reduce carbon pollution.  The report finds that under current plans, sales of tar sand-based gasoline in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (including New Hampshire) would soar from the current level of less than 1% to 11.5% of the total by 2020 as a result of increased imports from Canadian refineries and East Coast refineries receiving tar sands crude via rail and barge. If the controversial Keystone XL pipeline for tar sands oil from Canada to the United States is approved by President Obama, the region’s share of gasoline from tar-sands crude could rise even further, according to the report.

“New Hampshire has made major strides in cutting our carbon pollution, but putting more tar sands in cars would undermine those efforts,” said Mike Bartlett, President of New Hampshire Audubon, “Climate change is a major threat to our wildlife, as we are already seeing from the decline in our moose population. This is a move in the wrong direction – we need our cars to get cleaner, not dirtier”.  New Hampshire Audubon is one of the report’s co-sponsors.

 

An influx of high carbon fuels into New Hampshire and other New England, states which today are virtually tar sands free, will hurt efforts to combat climate change. Climate change has already caused billions of dollars in damage, according to the report, “What’s in Your Tank? Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States Need to Reject Tar Sands and Support Clean fuels”.

“Dirty gasoline supplies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are set to rise significantly, unless states take steps to keep out high-carbon fuel,” said Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Canada Project Director.  “By 2015 the volume of tar sands-derived fuel in the Northeast could grow sixfold, compared to 2012. This shows how important it is to move as quickly as possible to clean energy of all types.”

 New Hampshire is a party to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to cut dangerous carbon pollution, the major driver of climate change. As of 2012, more than 800 megawatts of electricity is being generated in New Hampshire already by renewable projects, enough to power more than 133,000 homes. Towns across New Hampshire have been working hard to save money and cut carbon, including Temple NH, which increased the efficiency of their town hall and fire department and cut their energy use by more than 80%.

These important advances would be for naught if the state starts using gasoline from tar sands, which emits 17% more carbon pollution than conventional gasoline measured on a life-cycle basis. The report points out that state leaders, with the support of citizens and local communities, need to take steps to clean up transportation.

 “New Hampshire’s natural resources could be hit by tar sands two ways”, said Susan Arnold, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Vice President for Conservation. “First, by the chance of a spill in the Androscoggin or the Israel River from a reversed pipeline in Coos County, second by the climate change impacts from tar sands. We need to focus on energy efficiency, conservation, and distributed energy generation instead of carbon-intensive fuels.”

The extraction and refining of oil from Alberta’s vast tar sands region, an area the size of Florida, is an energy-intensive process that destroys carbon-trapping forests and emits 81 % more carbon pollution than conventional oil extraction and refining. NRDC and others oppose Keystone XL, which would carry Alberta’s tar sands oil through the heartland of America to Gulf Coast refineries, in part because it would enable a vast expansion in tar sands production.  As NRDC has explained, Keystone XL is primarily an oil export pipeline, but some portion of its refined products would flow to the East Coast. 

If dirty tar sands gasoline becomes a major share of supplies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, that would add millions more tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere each year—just as the region is aiming to continue to cut such pollution under the landmark Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. That program saw a 45% reduction in emissions below the initial cap in 2012.  Declines were due to decreased electric generation from carbon-intensive coal and oil plants, increased generation from natural gas and renewables, and growing investments in energy efficiency, a key component of the RGGI program.   RGGI also provided $17 million in economic benefits and 450 jobs in New Hampshire in its first 2 and a half years and was recently strengthened by New Hampshire and partner states to further reduce greenhouse gases and invest in efficiency. The report also underscores the importance of promoting a wide variety of low-carbon and no-carbon transportation alternatives, from cleaner fuels to buses and rail, bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly planning. 

The report is available here: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/tar-sands-northeast-midatlantic-IB.pdf

NH High School Film Festival open for entries

 

The New Hampshire Film and Television Office is now accepting submissions for the 2014 New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival. All submissions must be postmarked on or before March 31, 2014, or arrive at the Film and Television Office at 19 Pillsbury Street in Concord by 4 p.m. on that date.

 

Created in 2007, the New Hampshire High School Short Film has become one of the marquee film festivals in the state, fostering interest in filmmaking and rewarding future members of the industry for their craft.

 

The Festival is open to students currently enrolled in grades 9-12 at New Hampshire public or private high schools; homeschooled students ages 14–18 are also eligible. Submissions do not have to have been created as part of a school project and there is no entry fee. To be considered, a film cannot be longer than seven minutes, including titles and credits.

 

A panel of judges made up of New Hampshire film industry professionals will review all submissions. Select films will be shown at the Festival itself, which takes place at Red River Theatres in Concord on May 24, 2014, beginning at noon.

 

Winning films will also be screened on New Hampshire Day and Night at the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth in October, the SNOB (Somewhat North of Boston) Film Festival in Concord in November and the Monadnock International Film Festival in Keene in April 2015.

 

In addition to providing students with a public venue for showing their work, the Festival is also a great way for students to build their resumes and make their college applications stand out.

 

Rules and guidelines, film submission forms and other information about the New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival can be found online at www.nhstudentfilm.com.

 

The New Hampshire Film and Television Office, as part of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, works to expand business activity and employment throughout the state by acting as a liaison between the film industry and an established network of government agencies, the state’s film industry workforce, and local property owners. The office is responsible for location assistance, public relations and general production support in an effort to broaden the cultural and economic impact of film and television production in the state. For more information about film and television production in New Hampshire, call (603) 271-2220 or visit www.nh.gov/film.

Readers Write

Now is not the time to increase the tax on fuel.  My husband started our business in 1978 with a single log skidder and a chain saw. Today, our family logging company employs 20 people and works with hundreds of landowners and businesses throughout Southern and Central New Hampshire. We have grown our company in the face of increasing costs - tires, metal, health insurance, payroll taxes, parts and diesel fuel, just to name a few. Despite these challenges, we have managed to stay in business by meticulously reviewing our operations and squeezing as much efficiency out of them as we can. Currently, our company is well positioned to increase our workforce and production but only if our costs do not increase.  

One cost in particular has hurt our company – diesel fuel.  In ten years the price diesel fuel increased from $1.44 to $4.19 per gallon.  But there is no way around it, diesel fuel is necessary to process and deliver our client’s logs and wood chips from local woodlots, Tree Farms and our own timberland to the sawmills and wood energy power plants throughout New Hampshire.  Even after trimming down in recent years, our company’s fuel expense in 2013 was $813,000. 

The proposed fuel tax increase may seem small to many people (4 to 5 pennies a gallon) but to us it means about $6,000 more in fuel taxes paid per year. This is in addition to the $23,558 we already pay in fuel tax to the state of New Hampshire. This is money I would rather be spending towards maintaining a safe and dependable fleet of trucks and equipment or on hiring new employees. But, I am a realist and I realize roads and bridges need to be maintained and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s (NHDOT) budget has a hole to be filled. Increasing the fuel tax is not the way to do it. Like our company, sometimes you have to adjust your thinking and review and prioritize your operations and move forward only on those projects of importance. The NHDOT’s budget needs a full and complete overview at the next legislative session when their budget is up for renewal. Adopting a fuel tax increase less than one year into a two year budget (which passed as a balanced budget) is wrong.

When our company develops a budget and settles on pricing with a landowner or a sawmill we honor that agreement. We do not decide mid-way into the project to cut timber payments to the landowner 25 percent. We honor our budget and our agreements. I believe the state should do the same - honor the budget and the commitment they made to the taxpayers last June.

Lastly, whatever happens during this debate on the proposed fuel tax increase there needs to be a guarantee that all the funds go to repairing our roads and bridges – the current bill under consideration does not make that guarantee.  

Teri Hardwick and her four sons own and operate D.H. Hardwick & Sons, Inc.  A fully integrated logging, land clearing and gravel company located in Antrim, NH. In 2004 D.H. Hardwick & Sons, Inc. was recognized as one of New Hampshire’s Outstanding Loggers by the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association for their excellent work in the forest, professionalism and contributions to their local community and the broader forestry community.