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SEPTEMBER 6, CONCORD, N.H. -- Hundreds of timberland owners, loggers, foresters, sawmill operators, solar installers, hydro operators and engineers, farmers, and others wanting responsible, renewable energy policy in New Hampshire gathered today on the Plaza in front of the New Hampshire State House to demand that the state legislature overturn Gov. Sununu's misguided and misinformed vetoes of Senate bills 365 and 446.
The bills, which passed both houses of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, will both help support biomass and other renewable energy in the Granite State and thus the market for woodchips, which landowners and loggers depend on to practice sustainable managed forestry.
The legislature will meet next Thursday, Sept. 13, to consider the Sununu vetoes.
At the rally, speakers included State Senators Jeb Bradley, Bob Giuda, and Kevin Avard, who are all strong supporters of SB 365 and SB 446. Others who spoke to the crowd, which numbered around 400, included Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, N.H. House Democratic leader Steve Shurtleff, State Representative Erin Hennessey, Shelagh Connelly and Charley Hanson of RMI (which produces wood ash for agriculture, a byproduct of biomass energy), Medeleine Mineau of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association, Rebecca Crowe of Timberwolf Logging, Tree Farmer and longtime NHTOA member Tom Thomson, and NHTOA Executive Director Jasen Stock.
"This is about people, not about politics," Rep. Hennessey told the crowd. "The ripple effects of these vetoes impact everyone in the North Country." Other speakers emphasized that virtually every part of New Hampshire is negatively impacted by a loss of biomass energy and the market for low-grade woodchips.
"Why would we let 100 megawatts of energy go away?" asked Shelagh Connelly. "Then we'll just have to import it from somewhere else."
"I've got my speech written right here," said Tom Thomson, holding up a bumber sticker reading "Wood Is Good."
At the end of his presentation, Thomson held aloft hundreds of completed petitions demanding the veto override. More than 6,000 signatures have been gathered by petition -- one of the largest veto override petitions in New Hampshire history.
NHTOA members and all others who want responsible energy policy in New Hampshire have six days from today to call their State Senator and Representative and tell them to vote to override the vetoes of SB 365 and SB 446 on Sept. 13. Please make that call!
On Friday, Aug. 24, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire toured timber sales on New Hampshire Audubon Society wildlife preserves in Deering, N.H., and learned of the critical role the woodchip market supported by N.H.'s biomass energy plants plays in wildlife management.
The Deering timber sales would not have happened without the market for woodchips, N.H. Audubon's Doug Bechtel told the Senator. "Without that market, this could be the end of how we do wildlife management," he said.
A viable market for woodchips allows timberland owners, including institutions and organizations such as the N.H. Audubon Society, to clear out low-grade wood on their properties to promote high-quality timber growth and to create openings for wildlife habitat. Don Hardwick Jr., one of the loggers on the Audubon sale in Deering, told Sen. Shaheen that most of the trees felled in the sale were low-grade and had not value for lumber. "This sale would not have happened without biomass," he said.
The woodchip market is under grave threat due to the vetoes by Gov. Chris Sununu of Senate bills 365 and 446. Both bills passed both houses of the New Hampshire legislature by overwhelming bipartisan majorities -- a fact noticed at her office in Washington, D.C., Sen. Shaheen pointed out -- but the governor vetoed both pieces of legislation, mistakenly claiming they would raise electricity prices for New Hampshire ratepayers. In fact, the cost of replacing the energy lost to the New England grid if N.H.'s six independent biomass energy plants close -- a strong likelihood of Sununu's vetoes are not overturned -- is nearly the same as the cost assigned to SB 365. Additionally, there would be costs to the state from the hundreds of jobs lost if the biomass plants close.
The state legislature will meet on Sept. 13 to vote on the vetoes. Overturning the vetoes requires a two-thirds majority of each house of the legislature of all the senators and representatives present for the vote. While she will not be part of the vote as a U.S. Senator, Sen. Shaheen told board members of the New Hampshire Timberland Association who were at the Deering tour that she is optimistic the legislature "will do the right thing" and overturn the vetoes. "It's right for our timber industry, it's right for our forests, and it's right for our state," she said.
N.H. Audubon's Doug Bechtel said that at first he did not understand how the legislative battle over woodchips and biomass would affect the Society's properties. "I asked my forester, Jeremy Turner of Meadowsend, 'Why should we care?' Boy, did I get an earful!," Bechtel said. "Now I realize that without those biomass plants, we won't be able to manage our wildlife reserves the way we want to."
Longtime New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) member and Tree Farmer Tom Thomson has recorded two new videos in which he talks about the impact on New Hampshire recreation as well as the timber industry of Gov. Sununu's vetoes of Senate bills 365 and 446.
Watch the videos here:
The New Hampshire legislature will meet on Thursday, Sept. 13, to consider the vetoes. Overriding each veto requires a two-thirds majority of each house of the legislature of the senators and representatives present for the vote.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, the Veto Override Coalition, including the NHTOA, will host a big rally in Concord at the State House plaza, beginning at 10 a.m. Make a plan now to attend -- lunch will be served.
At this point in our campaign to overturn Gov. Sununu's vetoes of SB 365 and SB 446, letters to the editor (LTEs) are very important. The more letters, the more impact the messages will have.
Here are some tips for writing effective LTEs:
* Keep your letter brief and to the point. Try to keep the letter to no more than 200 words, 300 words at the absolute maximum. That's enough words to make one, maybe two good points effectively.
* Do no rant. Do not insult. Do not make the Governor sound stupid. Make your message positive to the greatest extent possible. On the SB 365 and SB 446 vetoes, describe the benefits (economic, recreational, social, etc.) your local community will lose if the vetoes are not overturned.
* Write the letter so it's specific to you and your situation. LTEs that sound mass-produced don't get much attention and persuade no one.
* Send your LTE to your local newspaper and to the Union Leader in Manchester (which is considered a statewide newspaper). Go to your newspaper's website for specific directions on how to submit an LTE; instructions vary from publication to publication. Note whether there's a word limit.