With the primary less than one week away, GreenLifeNH asked the Executive Council candidates to share their plans for addressing environmental issues. Here are three of their answers. Remember – voting is a free and easy way to protect the Earth and fight climate change. Our home needs to be at the forefront of our minds as we head to the polls. We cannot elect people who consider global warming a hoax or side issue to ignore. Please free free to comment below with questions.
My environmental priority is combating climate change. Our children, their children, and future generations are facing an existential threat from the impact of climate change on weather systems, food supplies, public health (including the spread of viruses), and much more. Climate change also perpetuates racial injustice, as climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color. The science and data are clear. As an Executive Councilor, I will rigorously question and only vote to confirm agency nominees who can be trusted to make decisions grounded in science and a commitment to combating racial injustice. I will also thoroughly vet state contracts to ensure that entities receiving Granite State dollars protect our climate and establish equity. In addition to these specific responsibilities, I will steward the core duty of a Councilor to be an “advocate for the people” by taking consistent and comprehensive stock of the big picture of how our agencies and spending decisions are– or are not–coming together to combat climate change and racial injustice. I will engage in coalition work, community conversations, and deep-dive public-facing analysis that offers what the Keene Sentinel praised as an approach to being a watchdog where I “did the research, posed smart questions and noted where supporting information was insufficient.” There’s a rule of thumb for problem-solving: don’t ignore the important (the long term) for the urgent (what’s right in front of you). Climate change and racial justice are both important and urgent and demand our full attention.
What is your number one environmental priority? I’ve built my campaign around the need to confront the climate crisis head on. That’s because as a farmer, climate change is personal to me. I don’t have to read about it in the news, I deal with it on a daily basis in our orchards and fields in the form of new pests, extreme temperature variations, and ever more frequent extreme rainfall events, all related directly to climate change. And that’s why as a state representative, I sponsored the most comprehensive bill in the legislature this year — House Bill 1664. If adopted into law, HB 1664 would establish for the first time specific targets for statewide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with UN recommendations. And then it would go further, requiring the Public Utilities Commission to take into account the costs of climate change when making decisions about our state’s energy future, something the PUC doesn’t currently do. There are other pressing issues facing us, but this is the one issue on which we don’t get a second chance.
How will you work to accomplish this goal? From the Executive Council, I will enforce a litmus test for all gubernatorial nominees that come before the Council for approval. Simply put, in order to get my support, they will have to answer the basic question, “Do you believe in climate change?” If they don’t, they won’t get my vote. If they do, my follow up question will be, “Then what are you going to do about it?” By taking this approach we can start to populate the entire state government with individuals who understand the pressing urgency of this crisis, an approach that is necessary so we can respond across all levels of state government. This is especially important for future nominees for Agricultural Commissioner, given that we have a Commissioner of Agriculture at the moment who doesn’t believe in climate change in any meaningful way. But it’s also essential that we take this approach with those who make so many of our energy decisions, specifically, those who serve on the Public Utilities Commission and the Site Evaluation Committee.
What is your number one environmental priority? My number one environmental priority is mitigating the impacts of climate change.
How will you work to accomplish this goal?
1) Executive Councilors confirm appointments to state agencies, boards, and commissions. I will demand that appointees to relevant positions, including but not limited to, the Department of Environmental Services, Department of Agriculture, Public Utilities Commission, Department of Transportation, and Site Evaluation Committee express a strong commitment to environmental preservation and climate change solutions.
2) Executive Councilors review all state contracts over $10,000. Currently, contracts come before the council fully negotiated, for an up-or-down vote. I have professional experience as a contract attorney and intend to use the Council’s contract approval process in a more proactive way than has been done before, reaching out to state agencies early on before contracts reach the Request for Proposal stage. This would allow the Executive Council to ask questions of state agencies about the environmental impacts of vendor contracts, such as the vendor’s use of energy efficient technology or their creative efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a project or service. These questions aren’t being asked now as part of the review process, and that’s a missed opportunity.
3) Finally, the Executive Council plays a key role in developing the 10 year intermodal transportation plan. This plan needs to be less highway-focused (it’s colloquially called the “Highway Plan”) and needs to center greener transportation options like public transport. The use of the Council’s proactive, agenda-setting role to expand access to public transportation is a key priority for me, and I support the development of a commuter rail from New Hampshire to Boston.
Thank you to all of the candidates and good luck!