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GOP Senate Gets F on Environment, NH Proposals Also Raising Red Flags

PHOTO: Advocates in New Hampshire and the nation say Congress deserves a failing grade on the environment for the first 100 days. They say that is especially true for the GOP-led Senate. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons - Scrumshus
PHOTO: Advocates in New Hampshire and the nation say Congress deserves a failing grade on the environment for the first 100 days. They say that is especially true for the GOP-led Senate. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons - Scrumshus
April 17, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - Congress marked its first 100 days in session on Wednesday, and environmental groups in New Hampshire and the nation say lawmakers deserve a failing grade on key issues.

Republicans in Congress say they are trying to promote economic growth by easing regulations, but according to Roger Stephenson, senior outreach consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists, lawmakers are more likely helping corporations and big lobby groups avoid important environmental protections because they are a major source of campaign funding.

"A single force to contend with, from my point of view in New Hampshire, is Americans for Prosperity," he said. "It's been a single but well-funded voice against common-sense energy-efficiency programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative."

Americans for Prosperity said one of its major goals on the environment is unburdening employers from regulatory barriers. Stephenson said lawmakers in Concord and in Congress need a bit more education on the importance of common-sense regulation with respect to water quality and air pollution.

League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a prime example of why the Senate is not getting the job done on key environmental issues.

"It's an F from our perspective," Karpinski said. "Polluters and their allies in Congress who invested over $700 million in this new Congress are doing all they can to try to wreck our public-health protections and destroy the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act."

Stephenson said Granite Staters also would be wise to keep an eye on what he called assaults on the environment at the State House.

"There's some concern in the Republican-led House," he said, "because they seem intent on raiding the Renewable Energy Fund in order to plug holes in their budget."

Stephenson said he does not think the New Hampshire state Senate will go along with the proposal, but added that advocates for the environment have their work cut out for them now for several months.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH