Institute for Climate Action hosts legislative review
Jan 30, 2020
The Franklin Pierce Institute for Climate Action hosted a gathering of environmental activists, students, faculty and staff at the Lakeside Educational Center for an update on energy and climate legislation currently under consideration in the N.H. state legislature. President Kim Mooney welcomed participants and spoke to the Institute’s mission of spearheading action in response to the climate crisis on campus and in the community. The President also indicated that the University’s new strategic plan will help coordinate future initiatives.
“Our students and faculty have generated a number of compelling ideas, and our challenge is to figure out where to ‘pull the thread’ to get started,” said Mooney. “This event is one of our first steps, to make sure we’re on the right track. We are privileged to share time with you, and we are eager to learn from you.”
Rob Werner, N.H. State Director of the League of Conservation Voters, reviewed the clean energy bills currently working their way through the legislative process. He highlighted a bipartisan bill to raise the cap on net metering from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts in cities and towns that was passed unanimously by legislators, then vetoed by Governor Sununu last session. The bill has been refiled for the current session, and would allow cities and towns to supply 5 times more of their own energy from renewables than is currently allowed.
Former N.H. State Representative Marjorie Shepardson reviewed the status of the “carbon cash back” bill, which she called the most elegant and simple way to put a price on carbon to incentivize polluters to reduce emissions. The plan would gradually raise the cost per ton charged to carbon producers, and funnel dividends back to households through credits on their utility bills. “The plan has been around a long time, but it’s getting urgent now,” Shepardson said. Activists are encouraged to get warrant articles onto town ballots that support the carbon cash back bill.
Franklin Pierce alumna Shelia Vargas ’12, Government and Community Relations Manager for The Nature Conservancy, updated the group on their efforts to oppose a bill to create connector trails that allow ATV use in the Nash Stream State Forest, an important watershed. Vargas also highlighted a senate bill to create a coalition of clean energy, environment, and public health stakeholders to report on how to get New Hampshire to net zero by 2050.
Vargas’ portfolio covers climate, recreation, and water quality at The Nature Conservancy, and she was enthusiastically encouraged to come back to campus for Academic Showcase in April, where this year’s theme is “Water.”