Community, Environment, and Climate Change Resources

Resource Category Topic Type
Beliefs about Development Versus Environmental Tradeoffs in the Puget Sound Region
Using data from a phone survey of 1,980 Puget Sound residents conducted in 2012, this fact sheet outlines residents’ views about the importance of environmental protection as well as their opinions about energy development, protection of wild salmon, and land use regulation.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community Development, Economic Development, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Biofueling Rural Development: Making the Case for Linking Biofuel Production to Rural Revitalization
Biofuels play a crucial role in America's quest for oil independence. In recent years, the biofuel industry has seen significant technology and efficiency advances, as well as expansions in the materials that can be used to create biofuels. Grains and oilseeds are limited in their ability to meet fuel needs, but a shift to biomass feedstocks offers better production possibilities. For rural communities, locally owned biomass refineries may offer promise of new investment, job growth, and revitalization.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Economic Development, Environment, Infrastructure, Rural Publication
Carsey Perspectives: New Hampshire's Electricity Future
May 2017 update PointLogic Energy, a source for natural gas pipeline flow and capacity in the original report, has recently updated its models for calculating natural gas flow in the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in New England. This model update has resulted in significant changes to their previous estimates. Most importantly, data obtained from PointLogic Energy in December 2016 supported the finding that overall net gas flow in the “Tennessee Gas Pipeline: NY to MA” was from Massachusetts to New York from 2013–2016; their revised models indicate a net flow during the same period from New York to Massachusetts. To be conservative, we have removed analysis of natural gas pipeline flow and capacity from this report that relied on the original data obtained from PointLogic Energy. Instead, we use estimates of natural gas pipeline flow and capacity published in a 2014 ICF International report that was commissioned by ISO New England (Exhibit 2-3, pp. 12)a and information provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.b a ICF International, “Assessment of New England’s Natural Gas Pipeline Capacity to Satisfy Short and Near-Term Electric Generation Needs: Phase II,” 2014 . b U.S. Energy Information Administration, “U.S. State-to-State Capacity,” updated 12/31/2015; U.S. Energy Information Administration, “New England Natural Gas Pipeline Capacity Increases for the First Time Since 2010,” December 6, 2016 (see endnote 15). Download the revised publication. Download the previous version of this publication.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Energy, Infrastructure, New Hampshire Publication
Carsey Perspectives: Saving Salt, Protecting Watersheds, in Winter Road Maintenance
Every winter, the surface of the earth in the northern United States becomes considerably more salty. The reason is, for availability, cost, and effectiveness, nothing beats salt-based deicers for keeping roadways clear of ice. But the effects of road salt on aquatic ecosystems, freshwater drinking supplies, infrastructure, and vehicles is significant. When chlorides get into groundwater, it can be very difficult to get them out. They do not biodegrade over time, and the accumulation in soils can be retained for decades.1 As few as 50 pounds of salt can contaminate 10,000 gallons of water.2 The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services estimates that there are almost 50 chloride-impaired watersheds within the state, and it lists over 100 of the state’s drinking water sources as contaminated due to chlorides.3 Groundwater experts suggest that the chloride problem may be much larger than we know, due to limited testing and the cumulative impact of the chemical. Therefore, given what we know about the harmful effects of salt, it makes sense to use it sparingly. But as any homeowner who has tossed it on a sidewalk knows, it is hard to estimate the right amount to use and, if anything, we err on the side of caution, resulting in liberal applications. Municipalities have an even tougher time getting it right. A public works department must deploy dozens or hundreds of spreaders, managing them so they do not miss a road and adjusting their management approach to accommodate changing temperatures and the unique weather fluctuations of each winter event. When trucks are moving through complex road systems it can be challenging for operators to know the last time deicing material was applied to a particular surface. When in doubt, operators apply more material. It was in seeing that there was significant opportunity for innovation within the winter road maintenance industry that I decided to launch a company where we could work to help address some of the industry’s challenges. In 2012, I launched the New Hampshire based company, Sensible Spreader Technologies LLC (SST), and we are currently helping municipalities and private contractors increase efficiency, increase safety, and reduce deicer waste by showing operators in real time what’s been covered and what hasn’t. SST’s Coverage Indication Technology (CIT) uses mobile devices, wireless sensors, cloud computing, and real-time electronic maps to show operators the concurrent locations of other vehicles in the fleet and the plowing and deicing operations that have taken place over specific intervals. SST developed this technology after measuring the regular occurrence of material-based overlap within short time durations at multiple municipal locations. Material-based overlap occurs when operators reapply material in areas that have already received sufficient quantities of deicing material. We observed that the highest likelihood for overlap occurred in and around grid-type infrastructure, typical of urban environments, but overlap was also observed in rural settings.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, Infrastructure, New Hampshire Publication
Carsey Perspectives: To Dig, Or Not To Dig?
Editor’s Note: Tom Haines, a journalist and assistant professor of English at The University of New Hampshire, has walked hundreds of miles across landscapes of fuel while researching a book about energy and the environment that will be published in 2018. He served as a Carsey School Summer Research Scholar in 2015, when he walked 50 miles among the open-pit coal mines of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. That on-the-ground reporting informs this analysis. In January 2016, the Department of Interior announced a moratorium on all new federal coal leases while it conducts an in-depth review of the process by which coal owned by the American public is sold to private enterprise for harvest. Nearly 40 percent of all coal produced in the United States comes from federal land, and coal still powers one-third of the nation’s electricity grid.1 The federal coal lease review, the first since the 1980s, considers pricing and competitive bidding practices, but also, for the first time, the environmental impact that burning coal has on a warming planet. In announcing the review, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said: “We need to take into account right now the science of carbon’s impact on the environment.” Ten percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions comes from burning coal harvested on public land. Nearly all of that, more than 85 percent, is dug from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.2 Nowhere else does the U.S. government control such a vast deposit of fossil fuel. So as the lease review—and the climate impacts it considers—plays out over the next few years, the Powder River Basin, home to some of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines, looms as a policy frontier: Should this fuel box of America, which has sent coal to power plants in dozens of states for decades, continue to feed our energy appetite?
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Politics and Elections Publication
Carsey Perspectives: Water Concerns Unite Citizen Activists
This study focuses on an instance of sustained local activism in which citizens in three New Hampshire communities mobilized to protect community groundwater against threats from commercial use. Beginning in 2001, despite strong citizen opposition, state-issued permits allowed a private company, USA Springs, to commence work on a large water-bottling operation that would have pumped over 400,000 gallons daily from Nottingham and Barrington. Activists fought back through state agencies and the courts, engaging in a lengthy campaign that involved petitioning, lobbying, community meetings, rallies, public protests, and a State Supreme Court case. Meanwhile, and absent an immediate threat to their own town’s water, Barnstead residents worked proactively with a public interest law firm based in Pennsylvania to develop the nation’s first local ordinance prohibiting the taking of community water by corporations. Ultimately, Nottingham and Barrington followed suit, crafting their own ordinances and joining a growing community rights movement that has taken hold in at least twelve states. After a fight that spanned more than a decade, the Nottingham and Barrington activists ultimately prevailed. The company went bankrupt, and water bottling never commenced. Although many factors—including the dedication and persistence of the activists themselves—contributed to the victory, the case suggests that local ordinances can be an effective tool for mobilizing and educating residents, encouraging deliberative dialogue around environmental and resource issues, and deterring unwanted commercial activity.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Community, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Rivers/Watersheds Publication
Challenge and Hope in the North Country
Hit hard by the national decline in natural-resource and manufacturing jobs, North Country communities in northern New Hampshire and bordering areas of Maine and Vermont (Figure 1) continue to face challenges in restructuring their economies.1 A 2008 study classified Coös County, New Hampshire, and Oxford County, Maine, as “amenity/decline” regions, a common pattern in rural America where historically resource-dependent places experience decline in their traditional industries, even while natural amenities present new opportunities for growth in areas such as tourism or amenity-based in-migration. Complicating this transition, there is often out-migration of young adults seeking jobs and financial stability elsewhere, as new industries in rural areas tend toward seasonal employment or require different kinds of skills.2 In this brief, we report on a 2017 survey that asked North Country residents about their perceptions, hopes, and concerns regarding this region. Many of the same questions had been asked on earlier surveys in 2007 and 2010, providing a unique comparative perspective on what has changed or stayed much the same.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Community, Economic Development, Migration, New Hampshire, Public Opinion, Rural, Unemployment Publication
Clean Water for Less
Rising populations and increased development in New Hampshire coastal communities have led to a decline in water quality in the Great Bay Estuary. Responding effectively and affordably to new federal permit requirements for treating and discharging stormwater and wastewater will require innovative solutions from communities in the area. In March 2015, the Water Integration for Squamscott–Exeter (WISE) project completed an integrated planning framework through which the coastal communities of Exeter, Stratham, and Newfields could more affordably manage permits for wastewater and stormwater. However, meeting maximum goals for nitrogen reduction will require collaboration and commitment from all municipalities in the watershed, whether regulated under the Clean Water Act or not. Introduction The New Hampshire Great Bay Estuary and portions of the tidal rivers that flow into it have been negatively impacted by human development. The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership has identified cautionary or negative conditions or trends in fifteen of twenty-two indicators of ecosystem health.1 In 2009 many parts of the estuary were listed as “impaired” by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) on measures such as nitrogen over-enrichment. Though nitrogen is naturally present in estuarine water, excess amounts support algae growth, decrease oxygen, and ultimately damage aquatic species. Permits now issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates discharges to surface water, require nitrogen controls as low as 3 milligrams per liter (mg/l)—the lowest technically feasible level—on effluent from wastewater treatment plants.2 Municipalities, EPA regulators, and community stakeholders are now discussing strategies that would allow communities flexibility to integrate permit requirements between wastewater and stormwater, and/or combine requirements among multiple permit holders in order to devise control options that might be more cost-effective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, New Hampshire Publication
Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise, and the Vulnerable Cultural Heritage of Coastal New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s ocean coastline, though small relative to that of other states, is a place where people have lived, worked, and died for thousands of years. It is home to numerous important cultural heritage sites,1 and its identity is tied in tangible and intangible ways to centuries of marine-based ways of life.2 Tourism to the region’s remnant historic heritage sites and cultural landscapes is a key factor in coastal New Hampshire’s strong demographic, social, and economic growth. Rockingham and Strafford, the state’s two coastal counties, accounted for $104.7 million, or well over a third (37.5 percent), of the state’s meal and room tax revenue in fiscal year 2014.3
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Conservation, Environment, New Hampshire, Rivers/Watersheds Publication
Climate Change: Partisanship, Understanding, and Public Opinion
In 2010, Carsey Institute researchers began including three new questions about climate change on a series of regional surveys. They asked how much people understand about the issue of global warming or climate change; whether they think that most scientists agree that climate change is happening now as a result of human activities; and what they believe personally about the topic. Survey results show that while large majorities agree that climate change is happening now, they split on whether this is attributed mainly to human or natural causes. Brief author Lawrence Hamilton concludes that most people gather information about climate change not directly from scientists but indirectly—through news media, political activists, acquaintances, and other non-science sources. Their understanding reflects not simply scientific knowledge, but rather the adoption of views promoted by political or opinion leaders they follow. While public beliefs about physical reality remain strikingly politicized, leading science organizations agree that human activities are now changing the Earth’s climate. Interestingly, the strong scientific agreement on this point contrasts with the partisan disagreement seen on all of the Carsey surveys.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Civic Attitudes, Climate Change, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Conservative and Liberal Views of Science
Conservative distrust of scientists regarding climate change and evolution has been widely expressed in public pronouncements and surveys, contributing to impressions that conservatives are less likely to trust scientists in general. But what about other topics, where some liberals have expressed misgivings too? Nuclear power safety, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are three often-mentioned examples. For this report, five similarly worded survey questions were designed to test the hypothesis that, depending on the issue, liberals are just as likely to reject science as conservatives. The five questions were included along with many unrelated items in telephone surveys of over 1,000 New Hampshire residents. As expected, liberals were most likely and conservatives least likely to say that they trust scientists for information about climate change or evolution. Contrary to the topic-bias hypothesis, however, liberals also were most likely and conservatives least likely to trust scientists for information about vaccines, nuclear power safety, and GMOs. Liberal–conservative gaps on these questions ranged from 55 points (climate change) to 24 points (nuclear power), but always in the same direction. These results pose a challenge for some common explanations of political polarization in views about science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Data Snapshot: Millennials and Climate Change
From more frequent flooding to heat waves and drought, adverse impacts from climate change are already being experienced. Scientists warn of worse impacts within the lifetime of many people alive today, if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. Although majorities in all age groups recognize the reality of climate change, awareness is highest among young adults.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Trust, Young Adults Publication
Data Snapshot: Public Acceptance of Human-Caused Climate Change Is Gradually Rising
Have recent extreme weather events in the United States shifted public opinion on climate change? In late summer and fall 2017, disaster headlines were common. Hurricanes caused damage along the Gulf Coast, and brought devastation to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The West experienced severe wildfires, with 2 million acres aflame at one point. Although attributing particular events to climate change is difficult, scientists have noted that such extremes are becoming increasingly frequent as climate warms.1
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Demographic Change in the Northern Forest
This brief examines the population redistribution in the Northern Forest, which includes thirty-four counties scattered across northern and central Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, Demography Demography, New England Publication
Do Scientists Agree about Climate Change? Public Perceptions from a New Hampshire Survey
This report, a collaboration of the Carsey Institute, the UNH Survey Center, and the UNH Office of Sustainability, is the first of a new initiative that will track public perceptions about climate change as they change over time. Questions related to climate change were asked as part of New Hampshire's Granite State Poll, which surveyed 512 New Hampshire residents in April 2010.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Believe the Climate Is Changing? Answers From New Survey Research
This brief explores how political views influence Americans’ understanding and perception of science. The research is based on a national version of the Community and Environment in Rural America survey called NCERA, and on New Hampshire’s statewide Granite State Poll.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Trust Scientists About the Environment?
In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton examines the results of a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in late January–early February 2014. The poll asked about public trust in scientists, along with other questions on science, political, and social issues that help to place the science-trust results in perspective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Drier Conditions, More Wildfire, and Heightened Concerns About Forest Management in Eastern Oregon
In eastern Oregon, a semi-arid region dominated by dry forest, warming over the past few decades is affecting the productivity and health of forests that are central to the region’s landscapes, economy, and culture. A warmer and drier climate will likely bring more frequent and severe wildfires and increase stress on water availability. The impacts will be significant both for natural resources and human welfare, especially in the Blue Mountains and adjacent communities. Public opinion surveys in this region show that recognition of human-caused climate change is low, but there is a high level of agreement that forest conditions are worsening and that wildfires pose a major risk. Support is high for active forest management (forest thinning, surface fuel reduction) and restoration to reduce the likelihood of dangerous, high-severity wildfires.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Forests Publication
Enduring Ties to Community and Nature: Charting an Alternative Future for Southeast Alaska
Like much of rural America, Southeast Alaska is confronting the social implications of both population declines and the downturn in natural resource-based industries. Although many residents have chosen to leave Alaska in the last decade, the majority have stayed. Strong social cohesion and intimate ties to the natural amenities of the region are what sustain rural Alaskans. It is these connections to people and place that may ultimately enable residents to create renewed and more resilient Alaskan communities. Examining the challenges faced by Southeast Alaska, this brief discusses ways to encourage community groups and governmental agencies to work collaboratively to craft a robust economic future for the region.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, Demography Community, Demography, Environment Publication
Environmental, Economic, and Social Changes in Rural America Visible in Survey Data and Satellite Images
This brief focuses on the changing landscapes of different types of rural America where social, economic, and ecological changes are occurring over large areas: the Northern Forest, Central Appalachia, and the Pacific Northwest. These three study sites embody varying historical reliance on land and natural resources and represent very different socioeconomic dynamics. Their common and unique challenges are explored, along with the far-reaching implications of land-cover change in their areas. Data used includes both telephone surveys and satellite imagery to illustrate the unique changes seen in rural America in recent years. (Please note that it is best to print this brief in color.)
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Forests, Rural Publication