Saturday, August 30, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;77.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/few.png;2014-08-30 14:08:59
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Panel proclaims New Hampshire can lead the way on climate change, from the local level on up

NASHUA – Storms drains that once carried runoff after a heavy rain are now considered inadequate as storms are becoming historically more severe.

Municipal buildings that haven’t updated their appliances and light bulbs are responsible for tons of extra carbon emissions into the atmosphere. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

NASHUA – Storms drains that once carried runoff after a heavy rain are now considered inadequate as storms are becoming historically more severe.

Municipal buildings that haven’t updated their appliances and light bulbs are responsible for tons of extra carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Stronger storms have led to more natural disasters in the state, which costs towns more to respond to and recover from.

The causes and effects of climate change were the topic of the day when experts in a variety of disciplines
gathered at City Hall in Nashua on Monday morning. But the discussion wasn’t a debate on whether climate change was real; it focused on what communities should do to prepare for and prevent the very real consequences.

The panel discussion was one of many planned across the country in the wake of proposed new federal standards limiting carbon emissions by power plants. It was put on by the Clean Air Coalition, an ad hoc group.

Coalition spokesman Joe Elcock said the stricter emission rules are only a beginning.

“The next part is to get down to the state and local levels and working together,” he said.

The panel featured Mayor Donnalee Lozeau; Justin Kates, the city’s emergency management director; Venu Rao, a member of the Hollis Energy Committee; and Jonathan Gregory, owner of Sun Ray Solar in Concord. Much of the discussion Monday surrounded the monetary and public safety impacts of a changing climate.

Rao pointed out that its much easier to sell an energy-saving project, such as the lighting upgrades at Hollis’ 12 municipal buildings, by focusing on financial savings, such as the $64,000 in electricity cost Hollis saves annually, rather than the 540,000 pounds of carbon the project kept out of the environment.

“We all have a stake in it, for our children and their children’s survival,” Rao said. “The actual rubber meets the road in our towns, in our cities.”

Kates offered a similar financial outlook. Planners and responders are facing more emergencies like severe weather more often and are spending more to recover than ever before, he said.

“We’re seeing these increase. We’re seeing more disasters, and it’s costing us more,” Kates said. “We’re seeing it in money.”

Part of emergency planning has become planning for more floods, stronger storms, and a shifting risk around drought, fire and disease threats, he said.

And there are smaller but still significant impacts as well. Kates pointed to culverts, pipes that carry water flow under streets. An increase in the frequency of very heavy rains can overwhelm culverts, whose size is based on historic trends for flow in creeks and other runoff.

Lozeau pointed to several energy-efficiency projects the city has already taken on, including work at City Hall. The city’s fleet of compressed natural gas trucks is up to 35, she said, and the city is still paying $2.30 per gallon at the CNG station it built two years ago as part of a public/private partnership.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) made a brief appearance and vowed she would work with anyone interested in ending climate change or limiting its effects, regardless of their side of the aisle. “I believe we have a response to protect these natural resources for future generations,” she said. “New Hampshire is poised to lead the charge against climate change.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).