Pipelines, renewables, nature deficit disorder broached at sustainability fair panel

  • State rep. Jane Beaulieu, right, talks to former state rep. Jim McConnell during a lawmaker panel at the Souhegan Sustainability Fair at Wilton-Lyndeborough High School on Saturday.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • A group of three current and one former NH state representatives gathered at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School on Saturday for a panel to discuss various conservation and sustainability issues at the statehouse level. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • A group of three current and one former NH state representatives gathered at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School on Saturday for a panel to discuss various conservation and sustainability issues at the statehouse level. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • A group of three current and one former NH state representatives gathered at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School on Saturday for a panel to discuss various conservation and sustainability issues at the statehouse level. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • A group of three current and one former NH state representatives gathered at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School on Saturday for a panel to discuss various conservation and sustainability issues at the statehouse level. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/6/2019 5:34:22 PM

The Kinder Morgan pipeline, renewable energy, and nature deficit disorder were among the topics broached during a lawmaker panel at the Souhegan Sustainability Fair on Saturday.

Three current state reps. – Democrats Kermit Williams, Chris Balch, and Jane Beaulieu – and former Republican state rep. Jim McConnell were assembled in an effort to give those at the fair a chance to hear from and ask questions about the bills and issues in front of lawmakers relative to conservation, energy and wildlife issues throughout the state. 

“The reason people come to New Hampshire is because of our natural resources. If we lose those, it won’t matter what kind of stimulation we do to the economy, what we do to attract businesses, what we do to solve the housing problem – we are going to lose the number one reason why people come here in the first place,” said Wilton Conservation Commission member and event moderator Jennifer Beck. 

McConnell spoke and answered questions about his opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal when he was a state rep., telling the audience of about 15 that it is important to stand up for causes you believe in. 

“I think it is very important for anyone involved in an effort like this … the truth is if there’s no one else out there you become an 800-pound gorilla,” McConnell said. “It was very important for me to convey to everyone that I would be there if they wanted me to be, and also to ensure that they never saw any indication of withering effects of a limited commitment.”

McConnell said he doesn’t think the pipeline proposal will be making a comeback, as he doesn’t think any company could argue there is a need for such a project like now. 

“The Wall Street Journal had an article maybe a year ago, and it said that the opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline up in New Hampshire was very telling, and has put the natural gas companies off going through New Hampshire for projects like this. And that, even if we didn’t do anything else, was worthwhile,” McConnell said. “I will also tell you that if some clown comes up here with this suggestion again, I will be right out front screaming and yelling about it.”

Balch said the state is making progress on renewable energy legislation – as there have been dozens of bills dealing with energy and sustainable development in the past session – but there currently is not a cohesive plan looking towards the future. 

“We have mini goals for different things without a plan on how they tie in together and how we are going to get off the fossil fuels as soon as possible,” Balch said. “… We don’t have a real clear picture of where we are going, but we are starting to develop the ability to have one. And I think that plan to make a plan is a critical first step in being able to move forward to put renewables into place.”

Beaulieu spoke about nature deficit disorder – the concept that children are being negatively impacted by spending more time in front of screens than outside – saying she sees evidence that children are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, have difficulty creating relationships with other people, that they struggle more in school, and have a greater risk of allergies. 

“Since kids are able to be on their tablets and phones pretty much 24/7, kids aren’t getting outside anymore,” Beaulieu said.

Williams, a member of the joint legislative committee on administrative rules, brought in a large stack of paper “probably only a little thicker than the Mueller report” containing rules about wetlands. 

“Rules are every bit as big a part of the problem of understanding the battle between people want to do business and the people who want to protect the environment as is anything else that happens in the state,” Williams said. 

Williams said all the rules are important to ensure that all passed laws are followed and can be enforced

Nicholas Handy can be reached at  924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. 


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