By Courtney Quick
New Hampshire House Bill 1797 was proposed to “add a fifty percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution”. I think this bill has good intentions, but I am not surprised it got voted down at the House of Recourses, Recreation and Development meeting, because there are some limitations. The sponsor of this bill is representative Jim McConnel, along with 5 other cosponsors. The reason these representatives want this bill to pass is to prevent companies from moving to New Hampshire, where the environmental laws are less strict than some other states, like neighboring Vermont, and end up polluting with little consequences. If passed, this bill will require the Department of Environmental Services to make sure fifty percent of the amount of money a company spends on cleaning up their pollution is added to that cost, and that additional money would be put into the State General Fund.
I believe this bill would do a good job at preventing pollution in New Hampshire. I think it will make companies that are already in the state be very careful with what they are doing in order to not pollute, and I think it would have other careless companies, who were thinking of moving to New Hampshire because of the lenient environmental laws, to second guess that thought. However, I do think this bill has some flaws, which is why it was voted against. But, I personally think the pros outweigh the cons.
These flaws that I am talking about have to do with too high of a penalty. Representative Andrew Renzullo spoke for the house of Recourses, Recreation and Development when he said, “This bill would enact laws assessing a penalty against anyone found to have violated any one of nine environmental statutes and the rules thereof. The penalty assessed would be a surcharge of 50% of the costs the person or business would pay for containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air and soil pollution. So, an occurrence which might not even elicit a minor fine, like an accidental fuel spill or a sewage leak, could end up costing the individual or business an additional 50% over and above the cost of containment, cleanup and remediation. Fixing the failed sewage system that might have cost $20,000, will now cost an additional $10,000.” Because of this, the house believes that the bill might actually have a counterproductive effect, for example, it could cause companies to clean up their pollution in a way that is as cheap as possible, because if they do a better job at cleaning, it would actually increase their penalty. They also think that companies might insure against accidental spills, so the penalty in this bill would probably not be covered and would have no effect.
The house of Recourses, Recreation and Development makes good points, but I think all the limitations they mention can be fixed with some adjustments, for example, maybe making this penalty only apply to more severe acts of pollution. After those adjustments, or even before, I think having this bill passed is better than not having it at all.
Majority statement from Resources, Recreation, and Development Committee.
(Febuary 2nd, 2018). Retrieved from http://www.nhscienceforcitizens.org/the-conversation1
New Hampshire House Bill 1797. (2018). Retrieved from
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.