New Hampshire brings in first US state regulations to cut emissions

The US state of New Hampshire is hoping to spur the rest of the United States on to refocus on tackling greenhouse gas emissions following its passage of the first state legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

On 19 April, in a bill approved 21-2 by the state’s Senate, New Hampshire introduced measures controlling the emissions of four pollutants from the state’s three power stations, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury. While the emissions targets for carbon dioxide are less than set out in the Kyoto Protocol, the measure is generally viewed as a pragmatic compromise between environmental and economic interests, and has broad support across the state from larger environmental groups as well as the state’s largest electricity generator, Public Service Co, which will be the target of new requirements.

Under the Clean Power Act, Public Service Co would be required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels (about a 3% reduction) by 2007, as well as cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 75% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 70%. The Kyoto Protocol set the US a 7% reduction overall in six greenhouse gases by 2008-2012.

If the company fails to meet its targets, it can buy “expensive” credits from “cleaner” generators outside the state. The company estimates that compliance would cost about US$5 million per year and add about 40 cents per month to customers’ electric bills.

New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen promised to sign the bill. Describing the vote as a landmark step for clean air, she said: “With this legislation, New Hampshire is sending a powerful message to other states and the federal government. Pollution does not respect state boundaries. Other states and the federal government must follow our lead so that downwind states like New Hampshire have clean air.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie