This was written by Allie Morris for the Concord Monitor:
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen touted her legislation that would incentivize energy efficiency during a local Earth Day event that focused on the effects of climate change in New Hampshire.
It “is the cheapest, fastest way to deal with our energy needs,” she said to a crowd of roughly 30 invitees who attended the panel hosted by the National Wildlife Federation at New Hampshire Audubon’s McLane Center in Concord.
Shaheen was one of four speakers to address the need for action on climate change. The others included two biologists from New Hampshire Fish and Game and a bird researcher from New Hampshire Audubon, who talked about the impact on the state’s wildlife.
The bipartisan bill Shaheen is co-sponsoring would encourage the use of energy efficient technologies by businesses, individuals, and state and local governments, she said, which would help reduce carbon emissions and create an estimated 190,000 jobs.
The legislation deliberately relies on incentives instead of mandates to help with passage, Shaheen told the attendees. “It’s progress,” she said. “It’s not everything I would like.”
Known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, it is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican. The pair originally introduced the bill in spring 2013, but it stalled after legislators threatened to tack on amendments such as an approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In February, Shaheen and Portman reintroduced an updated version of the bill, with several bipartisan amendments and new co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
Now the legislation has enough Republican support in the Senate to break a filibuster, she said, and it should reach the floor within a couple of weeks.
“We think we have a real shot at getting this bill done.” If it passes, she said, it would be the first energy bill to pass Congress since 2007.
After hearing presentations about the effects of climate change on New Hampshire’s bird and moose populations from the biologists, Shaheen stressed the importance of connecting wildlife preservation to economics, to reach those who may not see a problem in dwindling animal populations.
“If we don’t have moose in New Hampshire, it makes a difference when we think about the jobs we have here, to the outdoor industry, to tourism, to fish and wildlife,” she said.
Climate change has taken a large toll on the state’s moose population, said Fish and Game biologist Kris Rines. The shorter winters have increased populations of parasites, such as winter ticks, that can kill the animals. “As of right now, we have seen 64 percent of all collared calves die due to winter tick this year,” Rines said during her presentation to the group.
Bird populations are also affected, said Audubon biologist Pam Hunt, as the changing climate alters habitats and seasons. That could, for example, send birds into migration at differing times. “Depending on when birds arrive here, it might mismatch with the food supply if plants are blooming earlier and birds get here late relative to that event,” she said.
“There is something we can do,” said Fish and Game biologist Emily Preston. The organization, in collaboration with roughly 50 other agencies, has outlined a plan for how the state can keep natural ecosystems intact. “I invite your help,” she said, “because we need to do this all together.”
Photo: Yvonne Nanasi