Conservation Spotlight: 2013 NH Environmental Policy Breakfast
Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Conservation NH‘s 2013 Environmental Policy Breakfast: “Green Eggs and New Hampshire”. This 6th annual event brought together over 400 attendees to discuss the environmental priorities state lawmakers will be facing in the upcoming session. What can we agree on? What issues continue to divide us? How can we find common ground? The following is a summary of my notes:
Governor Maggie Hassan spoke of the need for smart growth, incorporating a focus on education and training, jobs, green energy, innovation, conservation and the responsibility to protect natural places, and the need for a 21st century energy strategy.
Senator Russ Prescott’s remarks centered on striving for a strong balance between protecting the environment and moving New Hampshire forward.
House Speaker Terie Norelli emphasized that open spaces and special places, clean air, and clean water are part of what makes New Hampshire’s quality of life; future generations should be able to enjoy the qualities and activities we have today. Those involved in crafting the energy plan for the future should be open to creative ideas and healthy debate: ”We won’t always agree on how to get there, but we all agree on where we need to be.”
Conservation NH Director Susie Hackler then shared Conservation NH’s top issues for 2013.
- Land Conservation and Historic Preservation Program (LCHIP) - This program focuses on conserving and preserving natural and cultural places through matching grants for communities and nonprofits. LCHIP is critical for tourism and local economies.
- Energy – We need sustainable energy choices, to continually evaluate and update policies, and to craft a strategy for New Hampshire’s energy future. Existing research and recommendations should be used as a gateway for discussion, to determine direction and craft policies.
- Budgets for natural resource agencies. – Our lakes, forests, rivers and streams are some of New Hampshire’s best assets. We need to recognize the role our natural resource agencies play in protecting these assets, and support accordingly.
Susie concluded by encouraging us to think critically, engage collaboratively and work to keep New Hampshire clean and green for future generations.
The final speaker was Dick Ober, of the NH Charitable Foundation. He spoke of:
- an integrated vision of health and well being, prominent arts, access to education, civic engagement, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship.
- Leaders from all sectors need to come together creatively to protect what’s important – It’s not about jobs vs the environment, private vs. public, liberal vs conservative.
- Energy is a cross cutting issue, impacting environment, economics, and social justice. We need to tap into our Yankee values of independence (we’re currently highly dependent on out of state resources) and frugality (there is opportunity to reduce our energy waste).
- Finally, Ober urged that this is the year to step forward with a plan to move New Hampshire forward into a clean economy. This is a timeless issue, and an opportunity to leave a legacy of how we do it, not just what we did.
Thanks to Conservation New Hampshire for sparking the conversation!