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    A group of New Hampshire residents met with Sen. Judd Gregg on Wednesday to talk about clean energy legislation.
Thursday, July 22, 2010

NH group backs clean energy plan

John Thornton, an Iraq veteran from Nashua is among a small group of New Hampshire residents in the nation’s capital who want to deliver a powerful message.

Thornton, who took took two days off work as a software engineer at BAE Systems to fly down to Washington, considers the country’s energy policies and its dependence on oil as a risk to national security.

“The reason why we are involved in Iraq in the first place and can’t find a way out is because our current energy policy relies so much on foreign oil,” he said. “We’re going to keep losing people fighting for oil resources until we can move off of that.”

Thornton, 29, is among a group of 13 New Hampshire residents who came to Washington on Wednesday to push for legislation on clean energy.

The group included two small-business owners from Dover who run an environmentally friendly hair salon; James Ryan, the fish and game commissioner of Rockingham County; three people from Concord, two from Portsmouth and one each from Hancock, Sanbornton and Gorham.

Atop their itinerary was speaking with New Hampshire Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen about the need for new energy policy.

Thornton’s interest comes from his two military tours in Iraq, where he spent 22 months as a soldier from August 2005 to December 2006 and again from June 2008 to December 2008.

The visit from the New Hampshire group coincided with a push for legislation from Repower America, a nationwide organization advocating for a new clean energy policy that has been active in New Hampshire for more than a year through town-hall discussions, round-table meetings and talking about the issues with residents.

Current legislation, written and sponsored by Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., aims at improving the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed through the House of Representatives in June 2009, which included a cap-and-trade global warming reduction plan designed to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020.

Evan Carlson, who is in Washington with New Hampshire Repower America, said rumor has it that new legislation will be announced this week that has promise of partisan support.

“This week we expect there will be a movement on the clean energy bill,” Carlson said. “There are a lot of states with similar numbers of residents, 15 or so per state, that are all going to their senators this week to ask similar questions.”

Carlson said many of the 13 men and women from New Hampshire previously heard about Repower America or had seen what the organization does, but they are mostly advocates for clean energy who live their own lives.

“In many ways, we found them as much as they found us,” Carlson said of the group.

“They’re all here for their own reasons,” said Carlson. “They have their own passion to do what they’re doing. They’re doing it for free and taking time out of their lives to do it.”

The group was scheduled to speak with Gregg and Shaheen in the afternoon, Carlson said.

Thornton said he only knew one other person in the group, his Nashua neighbor Ali Stewart. He said they’re not part of any political group; they just decided to do it after discussing it over dinner two weeks ago.

“I thought this would be a chance to get my message across,” Thornton said. “I expect to be listened to. I hope to convince them that we’re spending more money subsidizing our oil consumption than trying to subsidize research and technology that would reduce dependency on foreign oil.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or