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June 27. 2013 10:12PM

Alternative energy advocates cheer Obama's climate plan

Environmentalists and renewable energy business leaders Thursday touted new pollution standards for power plants announced earlier this week.

Catherine Corkery, director of New Hampshire Sierra Club, said President Obama's climate action plan complements many of New Hampshire's programs and goes a long way toward fulfilling his promise to future generations outlined in his first inaugural address.

The plan targets fossil fuel emissions, largely from power plants, that are the single largest source of carbon pollution in New Hampshire and the country while increasing incentives for renewable energy production. The plan does not need congressional approval.

"This action is long overdue," said Tom Irwin, vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation's New Hampshire office, "and essential to avoid dire consequences for our children and grandchildren."

He said his organization welcome's the Obama administration's commitment to finally implement the requirements of the Clean Air Act and reduce emissions from power plants.

But state Republican Party officials said the President's plan will increase regulation and drive up energy costs for businesses and individuals.

"President Obama's radical energy mandates have drawn widespread criticism and have even been condemned by prominent Democrats including U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)," said Matthew Slater, NHGOP executive director. "Democrats like Senator Manchin realize that the President's onerous regulations will be a disaster for our economy because they will burden small businesses and working families with unaffordable energy costs. President Obama's extreme plan is bad for New Hampshire ratepayers, and Senator Shaheen, Congresswoman Shea-Porter and Congresswoman Kuster should join moderate Democrats like Senator Manchin in denouncing it."

But the owners of two solar energy companies based in New Hampshire said the plan will be good for their businesses, noting the current technology makes solar energy economically competitive with traditional sources of power.

Jonathan Gregory, who owns SunRay Solar in Concord, said renewable energy helps protect the environment and creates hundreds of jobs in the state.

He said renewable energy used to be the right thing to do but now it is the economic thing to do.

Heather Fournier of Revisions Energy in Exeter told of many projects her company has done including in Durham and at Colby-Sawyer College in New London.

She said the President's plan will help companies like hers to continue to grow. Fournier said people and businesses in New Hampshire want more clean energy choices to lower the environmental impact and their energy bills.

Corkery said New Hampshire currently has programs that reduce the state's reliability on fossil fuel including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Renewable Portfolio Standards, and a executive order that requires state government to use renewable sources for 25 percent of its energy by the year 2015.

Those programs help move the state forward to reduce carbon emissions, she said.Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, outlined the President's plan to address climate change.

The country has a moral obligation to address climate change and leave a clean and undamaged earth to the next generation, she said.

grayno@unionleader.com


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