March 7, 2020, CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire youth advisory council with participants ranging in age from 12 to 25 would make recommendations on policies, laws, and educational programs concerning climate, energy, conservation and recreation, according to a state senator’s bill.
“New Hampshire’s youth will be affected by current and future decisions regarding climate change for the rest of their lives,” said Sen. David Watters, a Democrat from Dover who introduced the measure. “They rely on their governing bodies to take action to protect clean water, clean air, and the economic growth and workforce development that goes hand in hand with the creation of renewable energy jobs.”
Watters said it’s important that youth have a say on climate change matters in the state.
“It’s their future,” he said.
The youth climate and conservation council would advise legislative leaders. It would include one resident of each county, plus four members each from middle school, high school, and college or university students. Each member would serve a two-year term.
The council would consider scientific reports “on the conditions and challenges to a clean and healthy environment, including clean water, air, renewable energy, open spaces, recreational opportunities, and the economic growth and employment opportunities dependent on such features of New Hampshire’s environment,” according to the bill.
The group also would consult with state agencies, municipal officials, policy advocacy groups, businesses, industry, educational leaders and scientists. It would submit an annual report on its findings and recommendations.
At a recent bill hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Bob Guida, a Republican from Warren, questioned the need for the council, since students can testify at legislative hearings.
Watters said the council provides a vehicle for informed discussion and consensus building. It also authorizes students to make reports to the Legislature.
Guida asked why the topic couldn’t be covered by the New Hampshire Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a statewide group that meets monthly to advise lawmakers on bills important to youth.
Rep. Marjorie Porter, a Democrat from Hillsborough and co-chairperson of that group, said the council is considering many other topics at the same time, such as substance abuse, sex education and mental health. It’s expected to weigh in on the climate and conservation council bill at its next meeting on March 15.
“Climate action is very important to this group,” Porter said.
She said the legislative youth council supports another bill making its way through the Legislature, which would require school districts to offer lessons on climate change.
- VIEW SLIDESHOW 1 of 3 A group of citizens talks at DNREC’s public input session in Wilmington.SOPHIA SCHMIDT, DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA
State environmental regulators sought input from the public this week as they craft a plan to mitigate and respond to climate change.
The state’s climate action plan is expected to include a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by roughly a quarter from 2005 levels by 2025.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hosted a series of public sessions to listen to citizens’ priorities on how the state should meet this emissions reduction goal and adapt to climate change.
Susan Love of DNREC’s Climate and Sustainability section says she has heard concerns about the intersection of climate change and issues such as development and land use.
“People are very interested in renewable energy,” said Love. “They’re very interested in ways that they can save energy in their own homes. They’re interested in how we can deploy electric vehicles in the state.”
Newark resident Matthew Bailey is a retired wildlife biologist. He attended Wednesday’s session at the Wilmington Public Library, and discussed the importance of building resilience to climate change with other participants.
“One of the things that we talked about that I thought was important was getting a better handle on where we’re building,” he said. “Are we building in floodplains? Are there ways we can discourage that sort of thing?”
Madinah Wilson-Anton, who is running for state representative, also attended the Wilmington session and emphasized priorities on the climate resilience side.
“I think it’s really important for us to focus on frontline communities and communities that have historically been dealing with the effects of climate change before anyone else,” she said.
More than half of Delwareans responding to a recent survey commissioned by DNREC said they’ve personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change.