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.
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.