HB 1797, adding a 50% charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution.
The purpose of this bill is to ensure that New Hampshire’s penalties for pollution are no longer among the most lenient in the region. Once enacted into law, the likelihood of a company like St. Gobain Performance Plastics opting to bring their problems to New Hampshire will be greatly reduced. It will also ensure that a new company that is a polluter looking for a place to start their business will recognize that other locations are less costly in the long run.
St. Gobain is the most obvious recent example of a harmful company moving to New Hampshire. St. Gobain’s business in New Hampshire (and previously in Vermont) applied chemical coatings - - perfluorinated chemicals - - to water and stain proof fabrics. In response to environmental concerns, in 2000 the 3M Company, the inventor and manufacturer of perfluorinated chemicals, abandoned the manufacture of these highly profitable products in an agreement with the Environmental Protection Administration. https://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/33aa946e6cb11f35852568e1005246b4
Any suggestion that St. Gobain did not know that 3M was leaving the perfluorinated chemicals business and why is difficult for me to accept. After all, as early as the 1950s, 3M made it clear that perfluorinated chemicals were dangerous and could only be disposed of in chemical-waste facilities or incinerated.
That Saint Gobain moved from their previous location in Bennington, VT to New Hampshire in 2002 in order to escape Vermont’s proposed requirement that scrubbers be required on their smokestacks is not in significant doubt. The NHPR article which follows makes that very clear. http://nhpr.org/post/untangling-why-saint-gobain-chose-new-hampshire
Since then, perfluorinated chemicals from the St. Gobain factory in Merrimack have entered the water table through the air and contaminated the local aquifer. Many of St. Gobain’s New Hampshire employees along with local residents, and many in their previous location in Bennington, VT have gotten sick. On humid days St. Gobain employees are said to have joked about a respiratory condition they referred to as “Teflon Flu,” among other ailments. The following article from the Bennington Banner discusses some of the health concerns. http://www.benningtonbanner.com/stories/pfoa-in-wells-soil-costly-on-many-levels,518187
The most comprehensive article dealing with both the largest court settlement involving perfluorinated chemicals - - in excess of $1 billion, and the subject of perflourinated chemicals pollution is the story of the DuPont Chemical Company in Parkersburg, West Virginia. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html In addition to the story about DuPont’s business practices and the legal case which followed, the lawsuit spurred medical tests throughout the region, as detailed in the following link to the “C8 Panel Study” https://www.ewg.org/research/poisoned-legacy/c8-science-panel
DuPont’s reckless disregard for the local population and environment provides an excellent example of the kind of polluting business - - dealing with perfluorinated chemicals or any other dangerous pollutants - - we should ensure finds New Hampshire’s environmental laws inhospitable.
Please join me in overturning the committee’s ITL recommendation, passing the amendment I sought in committee to exempt the first $1 million in containment, cleanup and remediation costs and passing HB 1797.
Representative James W. McConnell
Sponsor HB 1797
Representative James W. McConnell, Sponsor HB 1797
by Thomas Webler
HB 1797 aims to discourage industry that is not committed to safeguarding New Hampshire's land, waters, and air from moving to the Granite State. To some degree, environmental laws and regulations in NH are less stringent than in other states. HB1797 would discourage polluters from coming to the state by assessing a 50% surcharge on the costs of any environmental clean up. The monies would go into the General Fund.
Of course, well-intended legislation can result in unexpected and unwanted outcomes. For this reason, it is important to critically examine legislation before it is adopted.
In Spring semester 2018, Keene State College students in a class on Environmental Governance will look into the proposed house bill 1797. We hope our work serves the people of New Hampshire as they and their elected representatives consider this proposed legislation. Student groups will write papers, tweet about them, write an opinion piece, and interact with members of the public who would like to join in on this conversation. To participate in this conversation, just hit "reply" below any blog entry. Any questions can be directed to Professor Thomas Webler at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This story from NHPR (New Hampshire Public Radio) served as part of the motivation leading to HB1797.
This four-minute piece explains that Saint-Gobain might have moved it's operations to Merrimack, NH because regulations in VT were more strict. Now drinking water wells in NH are contaminated with a dangerous chemical used by this company.
NH Science for Citizens
Department of Environmental Studies
Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.