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.
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.