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The New Hampshire legislature has set Sept. 13, 2018, as the date when votes will be taken on whether Gov. Sununu's vetoes on certain pieces of legislation passed by the N.H. House and Senate should be overturned. Among the legislation to be considered are the two biomass bills that are crucial to the economic stability of New Hampshire's forest products industry, Senate bills 365 and 446. The governor's veto on each of these bills, both of which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, was ill-informed, misguided, and ignorant of the basic economic facts of New Hampshire's large forest-products industry.  
 
Leading up to the Sept. 13 vote, the NHTOA will host several rallies at biomass energy plants around the state. You are invited to attend any of these rallies -- note that media may be present at some or all of the events. The rallies include: 
  • July 30, 2018, 1:00 p.m. Springfield Power, 54 Four Corners Rd, Springfield, NH 03284
  • August 9, 2018, 1:00 p.m. Bridgewater Power, 441 Daniel Webster Hwy, Plymouth, NH 03264
  • August 14, 10:00 a.m. Bethlehem Power, 1241 Whitefield Road, Bethlehem, NH 03574

More than 200 people filled the big garage at Michael Sharp Enterprises yesterday evening, July 12, to learn what they can do to encourage their representatives and senators to vote to overturn Gov. Sununu's misguided vetoes of Senate bills 365 and 446. These bills passed the N.H. Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support. They are crucial to keeping the market for biomass woodchips viable for New Hampshire's forest products industry and timberland owners and for supporting wood processors looking to self-generate their own power. The six biomass plants negatively affected by the veto support $254 million of annual economic activity state-wide.  A vote by both the Senate and House to overturn the vetoes will take place in September.

 

The Governor’s vetoes are creating devastating impacts to the $1.4 billion timber industry – already leading to cancelled equipment orders, business closures, job losses, less energy generation in N.H., and the collapse of a statewide forest management system which benefits all Granite Staters.

 

Speakers at the July 12 meeting included:

  • NHTOA executive director Jasen Stock, who gave an overview of the situation and among other points, explained the veto message’s incorrect analysis of the electricity rate effects of SB 365 and SB 446; 
  • Forester and NHTOA president Shaun Lagueux, who stressed the importance of overturning the vetoes; 
  • Sen. Bob Guida, who is one of the original sponsors of the SB 365 and SB 446 legislation; 
  • Jeff Eames, who talked about the impact the vetoes are already having on his logging business in Merrimack County and his ability to manage over 30,000 acres of timberland in southern New Hampshire; 
  • Logger Rocky Bunnell, who talked about the impacts he is seeing in northern New Hampshire and who urged the audience to gather as many signatures as possible on the veto overturn petition; 
  • Landowner Tom Thomson, who commented, "We can't have sustainable forestry unless we have biomass”; and
  • Forester and landowner Robert Berti, who pointed out that while the Governor says he opposes subsidies, the state has been happy to be the beneficiary of recreation subsidized by landowners. 

"I've done what I can in the Senate," Sen. Guida told the standing-room-only crowd. "We sent a letter to the Governor urging him to sign 365 and 446 with 16 signatures from senators -- that's two-thirds, enough to overturn his veto. Now it's your fight to take to the House."

 

Tom Thomson, who has known the Sununu family for decades, said, "What was he thinking when he vetoed these bills?  He was very ill-advised."

 

Jasen Stock emphasized three figures: two-thirds, 40%, and $1.4 billion. Two-thirds of New Hampshire's standing timber is low-grade, he pointed out, suitable only for firewood, wood pulp, or woodchips for biomass. More than 40% of all the timber harvested in New Hampshire annually is chipped -- the loss of the biomass market for those chips would cripple the industry. And the size of the industry, in total, is $1.4 billion. Its disappearance would devastate the New Hampshire economy. The Governor made a significant mistake vetoing SB 365 and 446.

 

Plans are underway for press events and other activities to encourage members of the House and Senate to overturn the vetoes. Updates on those plans will be sent regularly over the next several weeks in the Forest Fax. Also check the NHTOA website for regular updates and articles. In the meantime, call the NHTOA office to obtain a petition sheet for gathering signatures to encourage representatives and senators to vote to override the vetoes.

 

 

On Monday, July 16, at the Pinetree-Tamworth biomass energy plant, Sen. Jeb Bradley, one of the earliest and most ardent supporters of Senate bills 365 and 446, urged landowners, loggers, sawmill operators, and all others associated with the forest management industry to write and call their state legislators to vote to override Gov. Sununu's misguided and misinformed vetoes of the two bills.

Pinetree-Tamworth is one of six independent biomass energy plants in New Hampshire, and it is scheduled to wind down operations in a week as a result of the vetoes. Three other biomass plants have already closed.

If the vetoes are not overriden by the N.H. House and Senate, when they vote on the vetoes in September, hundreds and jobs and millions of dollars of economic contribution to the N.H. economy will be lost. Moreover, the bills promote sustainable forest management, wildlife habitat improvement, and outdoor recreation opportunities on private land -- all of these will be lost, too, if the vetoes aren't overturned. 

SB 365 supports the six independent biomass (wood chip) power plants. It sets up a power contract with Eversource for three years to ensure the plants operate so the Governor's study commission (established in last year's budget) can do its work to find a long-term solution. 
 
SB 446 seeks to eliminate some of the barriers individuals and businesses that generate power on-site face when selling the excess power back to the grid (a.k.a. "net metering"). A number of N.H. sawmills and other wood/forest products manufacturers are doing this and looking to expand their ability to do this with biomass boilers, small hydroelectric, and solar panels.
 
Together, the two pieces of legislation are crucial to New Hampshire forestland owners and thousands of forest-related businesses (consulting foresters, logging contractors, sawmills, etc.) as they support the state's biomass power industry and forest/wood processors. Without that support, the long-term future of sustainable forest management in the Granite State is very much in doubt.  

 

"Call your representatives, and then call them again and again," urged Sen. Bradley at Pinetree-Tamworth. He said that because both bills passed the Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that the Sununu vetoes can be overturned. "But it won't happen without you," he said. "Every legislator needs to hear from you and everyone you know." 

Go to the NHTOA Facebook page to see more photos from the event at Pinetree-Tamworth. Also click here to watch a brief news report on the event broadcast on WMUR-TV.  

 

The meeting on Thursday evening, July 12, to discuss strategies and plans to overturn Gov. Sununu's irresponsible vetoes of Senate bills 365 and 446 will be held at Michael Sharp Enterprises, 1 Meadow Brook Road, Bridgewater, N.H. Meadow Brook Road is just off of State Highway 3A; Mike's garage and equipment yard abut the highway. The meeting will be held inside the garage from 6 to 8 p.m. 

The meeting's agenda:

SB 365 and SB 446 INFORMATIONAL AND STRATEGY MEETING

July 12th

Michael Sharp Enterprises, Bridgewater, NH

\

 

I.          Welcome & Introductions – Jasen

- Purpose of meeting

- Note any elected officials in the room

 

II.         SB 365 & SB 446 Background

-          What the bills do and how they affect timber/forestry

-          Governor’s veto

-          Impact of Veto

§  Need impact data sent to NHTOA daily (can be kept confidential)

 

III.       SB 365 and SB 446 Veto Override Campaign

-          Objective

-          Timing (veto vote)

 

III.       General Strategy for Override

-          Grassroots – individual contacts & meetings

-          PR – keeping our story in the press

-          Coalition- Building

-          Working with legislative allies on debate for House and Senate vote.

 

IV.       What do we need from you?

-          Grassroots (employees, family members, friends, vendors)

§  Petition drive

§  Calls/contact Legislators

§  Feedback from calls/contact is KEY - what are you hearing?

§  Who is with us in overturning the vetoes

§  Who isn’t with us and why

§  Attend events

§  July 16, 10 am – Tamworth Power Plant tour

§  July 30, 1pm – Springfield Power Plant tour

§  TBD -- Bethlehem Power Plant tour

§  Keep Positive!!

 

V.        Final Words & Q & A   – Tom Thomson