By Julia Brida
The purpose of HB 1797 was to enforce a surcharge on environmental contamination. It would tax companies fifty percent of the cost price in hopes to shift their lack of concern for the repercussions of their actions. This bill would be in regards to any air, land, and water pollution that are harmful to humans, other species, and the environment.
I find this bill to be very important, and I support Representative Jim McConnell’s dedication to protecting the environment through it. Since I am currently studying public health, this bill would be beneficial for the general publics well being, something I value. Companies from neighboring states, like Vermont, are coming into New Hampshire because of the more lenient environmental regulations. They take advantage of the lack of requirements, and thus are polluting and harming the public’s resources. This in turn harms the public’s health. They end up drinking polluted water, or breathing in polluted air, which can result in diseases, cancers, and in the longer-term could lead to death.
It is the companies’ fault in terms of polluting a public space, not the citizens that live in it. Therefore, they should not be the ones having to pay the price. This bill would support enforcing stricter requirements and regulations on companies coming into New Hampshire to take advantage of the state. I am all for the HB since it will help protect public health and promote better well being.
The New Hampshire Public Health Association, a stakeholder for this bill, proposes viewpoints on environmental protection, and say they are in favor of regulation that protects citizens. They believe that clean air, water and land are essential to the public’s health, which is exactly what this bill would support. As a citizen of New Hampshire, I would hope that my state is doing its best to protect my well being and making sure I had clean drinking water or air.
The bill did state that the taxed portion would be put into the state general fund. It did not state the specifics of what the money would be used for, which I think is important to elaborate. I think to reach more people’s interest, the bill should specify what they would use the money for, such as more funding for public schools or installing more parks and walking trails, to name a couple. It lacked some specific details, which might be why people aren’t fully supporting the bill. It should influence a rewrite of the bill. The intentions of it are strong; the writing is just a little broad.
I firmly believe it is the polluter’s responsibility to pay, and have awareness of their impact. By initiating a surcharge, it would become a motivator for the affected companies to be more conscious and develop alternative, safer practices that will not result in them polluting. Again, it is not fair to citizens to have to suffer because a company doesn’t express much concern for the pollutants they are producing. I’m sure if it directly impacted their families or themselves, then they would agree that their actions need to be accounted for and held to a higher standard.
By Samantha Cantone
To begin I am for this bill but do think that there should be some small revisions that need to be thought of so it could be passed next term. Throughout this bill there could be a few revisions that could take place. First of all, “pollution” defined by dictionary.com means, “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects” is not properly defined in the bill but this is what the whole law would be about. It is a very vague bill which is why a lot of questions were brought up. If revisions were made to this bill making it more specific about the laws that are already in place it would be very beneficial. I believe that it is a smart bill that would make companies question moving their business to New Hampshire for the fact that they would have to pay a fine for polluting if they did. This bill is adding a 50% charge to people who are liable for contamination of soil, water and air. Contamination is defined by dictionary.com as, “making or being made impure by polluting or poisoning”. Within the bill it does not state what contamination is either, it seems that it would be clear to the people but in these types of statements everything should be laid out. I do believe that the bill should have went through since it would be a benefit to the people living in the communities around where the water, air or soil could have been polluted. When Jim came to my class talking about this bill he mentioned that mBTE, a gasoline additive and PFOA’s, a fire retardant carcinogen that have been seeping into the ground and getting into the groundwater, causing people to get cancer, especially children. This bill could have stopped companies that use these two types of chemicals from being in New Hampshire because they would not want to pay the 50% fine that would come with the bill being passed. This would keep companies away that know they polluted which would be a good thing because they would stay out of New Hampshire and not ruin our environment by polluting with very dangerous chemicals. I can see why they did not pass the bill because it was very vague, but defining a few words and making it more clear I believe the bill would pass. Especially if it is causing many people to get sick by drinking the water or even having pollution flowing through other communities by the wind. People should take into consideration that these chemicals are not only hurting our environment but hurting the people who are living within it. I believe people should not have to worry about the water they are drinking or the air they are breathing in. This bill will make that happen because companies who have a risk of polluting will not want to move to New Hampshire if they have to pay such a large fine. This bill could help many families and the environment if it is revised and put back into the system next year and passed by the house and the different committees.
By Jake Anderson
I believe that the house bill 1797-FN-A addresses an important issue, however, I think it needs to be clarified further in order to have my full support. One of my major questions is if this penalty can be covered by insurance. When a company puts in an underground tank in New Hampshire, they either need to prove they have the money for clean up and remediation in the case a leak does occur or take out an insurance policy covering a leak. This is what originally brought up the question of, can the fine be paid for by an insurance policy? If an insurance policy can cover the penalties then the fine does not really punish the company who polluted but, rather, the insurance company. Furthermore it would punish all the other companies who are not polluting by raising their insurance rates and taking away from their profit which would in turn increase the price of their products. This would also deter potential industry from moving to New Hampshire, which would be moving in the wrong direction for all of the communities who are struggling right now due to local high unemployment. As a result, we do not want to increase these issues or cause high unemployment to occur in other parts of the state. Another potential issue I see with this bill is cost of a cleanup, and this is already extremely costly for a company, plus the additional 50% fine on top of remediation which is likely to be more than many companies can afford and stay in business. While, I do not see this as an issue for a company who is knowingly polluting and did not decide to act on it. I see smaller companies who are unaware of their pollution who would be good members of the community that will be put out of business by the fine for what was a true accident.
I think it is very important to keep companies with the intent to pollute out of New Hampshire or from being in business at all. New Hampshire has a tourism industry that revolves around the natural attractions of our state. Pollution and the bad publicity that comes with it would destroy the industry of which so many citizens and small companies rely on for income and that all citizens get to enjoy. I believe a bill aimed at keeping the current New Hampshire companies from polluting and preventing polluting companies from coming into New Hampshire is needed. However I do not want to see companies go bankrupt because of an accident that may occur. A small fuel company could easily have a truck crash next to a water source and leak oil into the water shed, easily surpassing the one million dollar cut off for the fine. If the company could survive paying for the cleanup and remediation they surely would not be able to pay another 50% fine on top of it. This is not the intent of the bill and it needs to be altered in a way to make sure that this isn’t what the effects of the bill are.
By Emma Coffey
New Hampshire State Representative, Jim Mcconnell, and 5 fellow co-sponsors proposed House Bill 1797 on January 3rd, 2018. As stated, “this bill adds a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and mediation of water, air and soil pollution” (McConnell, 2018). Due to the lack of regulation, the hope for this bill if passed would be to deter large corporations from setting up business and discarding any of their pollutants into our pristine New Hampshire environment.
This bill makes a strong argument strengthening environmental laws in the state, however I feel as though it is too vague given the context. Jim McConnell is passionate about this state and protecting the health of its citizens as we have seen regarding having brought justice to a cluster if cancer cases allegedly caused by contamination in West Swanzey, NH. Through all the concern, it seems that representative McConnell did not efficiently analyze how this bill would effect of the well-being of others involved. Obligating polluters liable to pay an additional 50% of cost is a steep amount to request and is probably a major contributor to why the bill got turned away on January 30th, 2018. This large amount would most definitely deter corporations from entering New Hampshire however, it would shift the economy in the state.
In addition, there has never been any type of bill proposed and passed before with a fine quite like House Bill 1797. While conducting research, it was discovered that other states such as Alaska, Hawaii and areas along the east coast have penalties if found polluting the local land, water or air. Nevertheless, these penalties range from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand and may include jail time. The largest amount found paid toward the state government was if a pipeline was leaked on Alaskan territory, in which case over a million dollars would be charged. House Bill 1797, if revised, would benefit by setting a minimum or maximum amount to the fine. The troubling part of the bill is that if $1,000,000 were spent on clean-up of a chemical leak in New Hampshire, and additional $500,000 would be paid to the state.
House Bill 1797 reads simply in only less than two pages. If attempted to get passed once more in upcoming year a good suggestion to make would be a more detailed version as the bill remains vague. The bill is unclear to where the 50% charge would go beside the state general fund. We are uninformed of how the money will be spent within the state; establishing better transportation systems, school education programs, health studios? The best solution would be to funnel the funds gained from these big polluters back in protecting the environment and the citizens living in the surrounding area. Conservation programs, sustainable energy and water quality, to name a few programs, should be the highlight of this bill. The bill must enlighten the State House and the public as to why it is so important. As stakeholders, they have interest in knowing how will they directly be rewarded or penalized in the future. This is a great beginning in establishing more regulations against major polluters on New Hampshire territory. With a few adjustments, House Bill 1797 has the ability to make it in New Hampshire State Legislation.
McConnell, Jim. (2018). House Bill-1797-FN-A AS INTRODUCED. LegiScan. Retrieved from https://legiscan.com/NH/text/HB1797/id/1661681.
By Andrew Sgoifo
This is a proposed bill by Rep. Jim McConnell for New Hampshire. This bill adds a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution. When trying to analyze this bill I can say that I am somewhat for it. This bill could benefit New Hampshire citizens and the environment. As New Hampshire has very lax regulations when it comes to contamination. Because of this proposed bill it could help deter companies that are here in New Hampshire now as well as those looking to move here from coming just because of those not so strict regulations. This would definitely help lower the amount of pollution in New Hampshire, especially what comes from those companies. Also, the money that would be collected from the 50 percent penalty tax could be used towards helping the environmental service with funding and what not.
As of today, the bill has been voted on by the committee that represents New Hampshire. They ended up voting against the bill 15-4. The bill is still going to the House of Representatives to be voted on. I personally don’t see it getting passed. The bill needs some revisions. First off, I think the 50 percent charge should get knocked down. I’m not sure what it should be, but 50 percent is pretty high. Maybe bring it down to 30 percent instead. Another problem I see with this bill is how vague it is when it comes to the specific violations they are trying to focus on. The bill should go more in depth about violations. The bill also mentions how all the penalty money goes in the state general fund. Money from the general fund is allocated to various services such as the Administration of Justice and Public Protection, Resource Protection and Development, Education, etc. The money is intended to go back to the state and its citizens to aid New Hampshire as a whole, however there may be other areas that could benefit more significantly from the revenue of the tax. Like focusing on the environment. I don’t understand why a bill trying to benefit the environment wouldn’t give most of the money to environmental services. All the money doesn’t have to go towards environmental services, but I believe a good portion of it should. Something to note is that no other state in the United States have fines like the one in this bill. So, this is something new that could take some time to adjust it in order to get it passed as a bill.
In conclusion this bill has a good foundation to make an impact on New Hampshire. I can see it helping the citizens and environment for the better. Some revisions can be made though. It will surely need to be revisited in order to make it perfect. Pollution isn’t good for New Hampshire’s environment and the bill is one step in the direction of reducing this.
By Christopher Klem
Despite recently failing to pass in the New Hampshire House vote, HB 1797 is an important piece of legislation that requires more recognition and attention from the state government. The act of this bill would add a 50% charge to the costs of an environmental contamination, cleanup, and remediation. This would deter all current New Hampshire industries from being negligent about their environmental waste and pose a warning to all companies trying to set up their business here that the state is serious about environmental contamination. And in the event that any of these companies pollute in such a manner, the state fund will receive a generous amount of money in return, helping New Hampshire as a whole.
I believe this bill did not pass in its current form because law makers are worried this would deter new industries from coming to the state while simultaneously pushing other industries out the door. But this bill cannot be thought about strictly under the circumstances of money and business. It needs to be seen about through the eyes of protecting the natural landscape of New Hampshire for years to come. While revenue is the number one priority of the government, they should not continue to accept a steady revenue of money from companies that are destroying the natural beauty that the state has to offer. In the long term, this bill would do much more good than harm to the whole state of New Hampshire and its people.
This bill will go back to the committee and New Hampshire House again next year but must be altered in order for it to pass on to the senate. The alterations to this bill do not have to be drastic, but unfortunately, the changes must come to the large charge that Representative McConnell had initially placed on environmental cleanup and remediation. While I do support the 50% charge originally proposed by McConnell, I do believe this is the main reason the bill was not passed. The Representative from Cheshire and his sponsors for the bill must work closely with the state agencies over the next year to find a percent charge that is more realistic and gives the bill a greater chance to pass through the House. However, I do believe that in order for the bill to maintain its effectiveness when it is eventually passed into law, the additional charges to environmental contamination and cleanup can be no smaller than 25%. In an ideal situation, the percent charge will be somewhere around 35, or even 40%. That way the bill will still deter polluting companies from entering the state while providing the incentive for current industries to be more environmentally sound to avoid the additional charges.
This bill is a huge step forward for protecting the state of New Hampshire and its environment and should be seen as a call for other states to adopt similar policies. If New Hampshire does not allow these polluting industries to operate on their land, then neighboring states will look to establish similar laws to keep the companies that refuse to operate in New Hampshire from coming to their state and polluting. While this bill has a long way to go before ever becoming law, or even passing through the House, I believe that small changes to the large charge will be made to convince other law makers to see the benefits over the potential costs. If and when this bill passes, it will be a great step forward in protecting the New Hampshire environment for generations to come and set an example for other states to do the same.
By Alex Gosselin
In New Hampshire, much of the land has grown into dense forest. The plants that build the canopy, help build an ecosystem for the surrounding organisms that inhabit the land. developing towns and cities, companies and industries need to follow the growth of desired products. Many industries focus more on the profit than anything else, and forget that some of the production waste that gets released into the ecosystem is not always good for our state. This is when authority needs to take over, to make sure the industry won’t create a pollution that could cause a wide spread damage to the beautiful nature in New Hampshire. In 2018, a bill was created “Adding a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air, and soil pollution.” House Bill 1797 could help with not just protecting the land, but making companies or industries become more efficient with how they release their waste. Industries that pollute more will most likely have a large clean up charge, and could lose more money for being less efficient.
I believe this is an important bill for the government to review because it offers a lot to the state of NH. Due to being interested in environmental studies, I have a good understanding that it could protect our land by reducing the waste that industries produce. With pollution being such a crucial issue in states and countries, passing this bill in New Hampshire could help influence other states to do the same with protecting the land they control. Multiple states around the country have already started to try and pass bills that either tax or charge the company for the waste production they release. With the climate changing and nature being depleted from human actions, this bill and others like it could help change and repair the pollution that has started to show up in water, ground, and air. These issues are not just affecting nature but they are also affecting humans that are located near these industries. Letting these issues happen, could create large problems in NH and could lead to a larger cost of clean up after the fact. This bill could influence a change to help protect the state and create an increase in efficiency whether through industries production or their technologies.
If HB 1797 gets passed through the government and officially signed off by Governor Sununu, I believe there could be a positive reaction to the outcome of the bill. Industries and companies may get a negative affect from this bill but with population still increasing, we can’t keep polluting land that will start to become more urban and developed. There needs to be authority over industries that are polluting, before our land is too dangerous for us to live around. Either we as a state, change the habits of large industries or they will change the habitats of this great planet we live on. We the people of New Hampshire need to push for this bill before the cities, nature and individuals start to be affected by the land, ground and air pollution.
By Erika Grand
I am personally for the proposed bill HB 1797. If passed this act would add a 50% charge to the costs of an environmental contamination, cleanup and remediation. I believe this is a good thing because big companies cannot get away with contaminating and polluting the environment, especially considering how fragile the Earth and environment is right now. People have always taught their kids that if they create a mess they are the ones responsible for cleaning it up, and companies are no different. This bill was also proposed because our neighboring state Vermont has extremely strict laws concerning companies polluting. However, New Hampshire currently has weak laws concerning contaminating and polluting and due to this a lot of big companies have decided to move into New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a beautiful state that generates a lot of revenue from tourism. This will suffer greatly if companies are allowed to contaminate and pollute and not get in serious trouble for it. There are other states who have similar laws to the proposed HB 1797 one. They have shown these laws work. If this bill were passed it would make the companies less tempted to try and get away with contaminating and/or polluting because it would cost the company a lot of money, more than it does now.
These companies also have a lot of money and would be able to pay for it. This would also protect the people who, without this law, would be paying for the consequences in a much more serious way and not with money— The citizens of New Hampshire. They should not have to deal with issues like contaminated water or air and they should not have to deal with big companies moving into their backyard polluting the environment and getting away with it. As I had sad before, the state of the environment right now is not good. Everyone needs to be cautious when it comes to the environment because we are right at the point of no return. If we keep doing what we’ve always been doing, we will be doomed as a society. The environment and all of its resources are extremely valuable and precious and should be protected at all cost. New Hampshire needs to be able to take a stand and let big companies know that they cannot just come into our state and pollute it because we have weaker laws than other states. This is something I personally believe in because I care about the environment so much I do not want companies to think they can run the show. I also certainly do not want them to be able to get away with polluting our environment. This bill would be a positive piece of legislation for New Hampshire to adopt. New Hampshire needs to make sure our beautiful state stays beautiful and that no one tries to come in and take advantage of us.
By Clarissa Backus
The House Bill 1797, Adding a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution, would have been a positive affect for New Hampshire’s environment. I believe this bill should revised because it will overall create a better community for the state and ultimately, our planet. Climate change has become a major crisis in our world today and if we don’t start to change the way we live our environment will be non-existent. I do understand why the bill was not passed however, in my opinion persons who pollute our water air and soil should be held liable.
I reviewed the New Hampshire’s stakeholders view on the bill, this includes: New Hampshire residents, industries currently in NH, potential incoming industries, government agencies, and insurance companies. The variety of these stakeholders are very important when determining the success of this bill. The stakeholders who were not for the bill were the business industries, both large and small. Having them pay a 50% charge will heavily affect their business development putting them at a competitive disadvantage and for smaller productions possibly put them out of business.
I believe this bill should be revised by lowering the percent charge. Lowering it to 25% or 15% is not much of a threat as 50%. I think more companies will agree to this charge because even though they still have to pay for the containment, cleanup, and remediation of the pollution, it won’t seriously affect their business development. Also, with a 15-25% charge this will make companies stricken their environmental health and safety rules and procedures. As a safety major I have learned the importance of everyday security and the wellbeing of company’s measures. Over the summer I interned at a medium size chemical company and recognized the real risk and liability that must be taken in every step of their operation. Two years ago, this company had an accident that greatly impacted them however, it was a realization that their EH&S department needed to be more on top of their daily processes and they have since improved their safety principles and have been accident free. This leads me to believe that with a charge on the line, companies will be more cautious with their actions.
As I mentioned before, I believe all persons responsible for the contamination of water air and soil, should be held liable for their actions. Having a 15-25% charge is just a start, in the future the charge can slowly be increased and we can eventually get to 50% or even more. In order to make a change we need to take these baby steps, not just for this bill but when taking on all environmental issues. This bill will put in place the responsibilities that companies should already be liable for, and create safer procedures in everyday operations, and ultimately create a better community for the state of New Hampshire.
By Michael Chipman
The piece of legislation I will be focusing my writing on is House Bill 1797-FN-A, which is being proposed by NH representative Jim McConnell, as well as the support of other political figures within the NH state government. The bill would add a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution. The committee representing NH voted against the bill 15 to 4, but the bill will still be sent to the house of representatives where they will again vote on the bill.
Due to the very lenient and almost non existent laws in New Hampshire that would limit and hold responsible large corporations and other companies for contaminating the air, soil, and water around their headquarters or wherever they are polluting the environment. I personally agree with house bill 1797-FN-A which was proposed by Jim McConnell. However I would recommend some ideas that could help get the bill pass in the house of representatives. What I would recommend is splitting the additional 50 percent fee to 25 percent instead. I personally believe that the state government wont pass a bill that is as extreme as this bill is. I believe that because New Hampshire doesn’t have any law in place that is similar to house bill 1797-FN-A it would be difficult to have the bill pass right away. However though I agree their should be a 50 percent additional fee, I think getting the bill passed would be easier and more realistic if the additional fee was 25%.
I would also change one part of the bill. I believe that instead of sending the additional fee that is collected to the New Hampshire state funds, instead have it go to those who are directly or indirectly affected by the pollution of the corporations and other smaller businesses. Instead of putting money back into the government I think that the money should cover the costs of the people who were affected and also go towards the New Hampshire environmental protection agency in the hope of possibly helping deter these actions of dumping hazardous waste by companies. Though I understand that the New Hampshire state funds could put the money towards those things, I personally believe that it would be better to give the money directly to those previously stated instead of giving the money to the state funds and it being indirectly contributed to those affected and helping out the new Hampshire environmental protection agency. I would also recommend giving money back to the community as well to help smaller businesses prosper and eliminate the need for larger corporations within a community.
In conclusion I agree with what Jim McConnell is trying to create as a policy in house bill 1797-FN-A. I believe that the additional fee would help deter pollution from companies as well as compensate those affected, give help to the state environment protection agency, as well as possibly giving back to the community. I believe this bill will help deter the crime of pollution as well as give back to the state.
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.