By Taryn Sunstrom
House Bill 1797-FN-A was the first legislation introduced to us in Environmental Governance. Representative Jim McConnell presented it to the committee and it ended up not passing through the house. The bill wants to charge an extra fifty percent of the original charge to a company or individual who pollute water, air and soil in the state of New Hampshire. While I see why Jim McConnell proposed his bill, especially with the water crisis in Swanzey, however, I never truly had belief that it would pass. I do not think many people often pay attention to the pollution that companies are causing until it affects them, and even in those situations where people are aware that it is affecting some people, unless it is affecting them personally, people generally do not care. I never really had an opinion on the bill itself but if I had to, I think I would be against it. I do not think that extra money should go to the state but rather, those affected by the contamination should receive it as many of them are paying medical bills or trying to move from the affected area. Also, if the money had to go to the state, I do not necessarily think it would go to environmental work, which it should benefit. I also think too, that even if these companies were charged after the contamination happened, it is already there, and no amount of money can always clean up the pollution or heal the sick. I also do not think this bill will stop companies from coming into New Hampshire, because a company could come here with good intentions and then under new supervision or time could start polluting. I think if anything, the State should propose a legislation that would provide routine checks of companies to initially prevent the pollution in the first place or stop it at least early, and then apply the charge if it is found they did indeed pollute. As someone who lives in Merrimack, just a couple of miles of St. Gobain, my water was not affected and so was not many of Merrimack residents, I personally hardly hear about it anymore. I think when something such as this, like I mentioned earlier, affects little people in comparison to the community, it is swept under the rug. I think residents would rather live under the façade that their community is still perfect and forget about the people who are suffering, whether it is just to calm their own fears about the situation or because they do not want the name of their town tainted. Lastly, I think if this bill was to be put into place, t would have to go into effect immediately rather than the beginning of next year, so much could happen in the ten month time frame that allows for that cannot be reversed. To wrap things up, no I don’t agree with this bill, I think we should do something about these companies contaminating our land, water and air, however, I do not think this way is necessarily the most effective.
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.