By Heather Chrimes
House Bill 1797-FN-A is a piece of legislation that aims to reduce the number of large companies that deal with or produce hazardous pollutants from moving to NH in hopes of looser contamination laws and regulations. The 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 (2). While doing a critical review of this bill, there were a few things that needed addressing. For instance, what exactly qualifies as waste or pollution? Who decides the cost of the cleanup? Where does the fifty percent charge go? And how environmentally friendly is this bill is actuality. The first, and most crucial step in reviewing this bill is to look at the stakeholders.
Analyzing who is at stake whether this bill is passed or not is necessary for making a fair and just decision. With this bill, the EPA water division and land division, along with homeowners and farmers are all at stake for major loss if this bill is not passed. Homeowners have already been affected by water contamination; cases of pets, children and elderly consuming cancerous pollutants from drinking water in the Swanzy area have been appearing for some time now. Big companies are the only ones to take a major loss from the passing of this legislation, while the general fund is the one to reap benefits. Companies like Sturm Ruger gun factory have skated by on NH’s loose contamination regulations. Ruger didn't start reporting production related waste until 1991, and as of 2002 have a “cancer risk” score of 50% for air and water releases (1). Implementing this bill would put companies like Sturm Ruger at a financial disposition, which more or less is the intention. The issue, for some, is that the money they lose is not given back to those affected.
This bill is designed to help protect New Hampshire’s environment and citizens from harmful pollutants. But how much does it actually help? While this bill does make it harder for companies to practice harmful waste methods, it does not truly stop them. It is a post-tragedy solution, it does not fully prevent contamination. To make matters more complicated, the money that is charged goes into the general fund. By charging companies for their mistakes, the State can collect large sums of money to put into the general fund to give back to the people. In the end, the bill is meant to benefit the people of New Hampshire. The General fund helps provides services such as the Resource Protection and Development among other groups. However, it is important to be aware of where the money goes. The general fund could be used to benefit the state government and its representatives, as they too are stakeholders. Which begs the question, can this money be spent in a way to benefit those affected the most?
A revision that might make this bill go further in helping the environment would be to ensure that the money companies forfeit goes to the EPA, or better yet directly to the communities harmed by the waste. As it stands, this bill is not very active. It still allows for loose regulations, just at a cost. If New Hampshire’s representatives are okay with companies polluting our air, soil, and water, with the promise to pay the clean up, then the money should at least be spent in the most vital way to ensure that our communities and land is in fact clean and healthy.
Works Cited 1. Environmental Releases for STURM RUGER & CO. INC. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2018, from http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/facility.tcl?tri_id=03773STRMRGUILD 2. McConnell, J. (n.d.). HB 1797-FN-A - AS INTRODUCED. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/billText.aspx?id=1083&type=4
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.