HB 76-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 76-FN
I. Establishes an environmental policy for New Hampshire.
II. Defines an “action which may significantly affect the environment.”
III. Requires state departments, institutions, and agencies to hold a public scoping meeting and prepare an environmental impact statement for actions which may significantly affect the environment.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven
AN ACT creating an environmental policy for New Hampshire.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
I. The general court finds that the growing population and expanding economy of the state have had a profound impact on the life-sustaining natural environment. The air, water, land, and other natural resources, taken for granted since the settlement of the state, are now recognized as finite and precious. It is now understood that human activity must be guided by and in harmony with the system of relationships among the elements of nature. Therefore, the general court hereby declares that the policy of the state of New Hampshire is to conserve, improve, and protect its natural resources and environment, and to control air, land, and water pollution in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state. It shall further be the policy of the state to improve and coordinate the environmental plans, functions, powers, and programs of the state, in cooperation with the federal government, state and local governments, other public and private organizations, and concerned individuals, and to manage the basic resources of air, land, and water to the end that the state may fulfill its responsibility as trustee of the environment for the present and future generations.
II. The general court, recognizing the profound impact of man’s activity on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment, particularly the profound influence of population growth, high-density urbanization, industrial expansion, resource exploitation, and new and expanding technological advances, and recognizing further the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of humanity, declares that it is the continuing policy of the state government, in cooperation with federal and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of New Hampshire residents.
III. It is the continuing responsibility of the state government to use all practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of state policy, to improve and coordinate state plans, functions, programs, and resources to the end that the state may:
(a) Fulfill the responsibility of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations.
(b) Assure for all residents of the state safe, healthful, productive, and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings.
(c) Attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences.
(d) Preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our New Hampshire heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment which supports diversity and variety of individual choice.
(e) Achieve an ecological balance between population and resource use which will permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life’s amenities.
(g) Practice conservation in the use of energy, maximize the use of energy efficient systems and minimize the environmental impact of energy production and use.
9-B:8 Definition; Actions Which May Significantly Affect the Environment. In this section, “actions which may significantly affect the environment” means individual activities or a sequence of planned activities proposed to be undertaken by state departments, institutions, or agencies, or funded in whole or in part by the state, which could have a major impact on the state’s land, water, air, historic structures and landmarks, existing housing, or other environmental resources, or could serve short term goals to the disadvantage of long term environmental goals. Such actions shall include, but not be limited to, new projects and programs of state agencies and new projects supported by state contracts and grants, but shall not include emergency measures undertaken in response to an immediate threat to public health or safety, or activities in which state agency participation is ministerial in nature, involving no exercise of discretion on the part of the state department, institution, or agency.
I. Each state department, institution, or agency shall review its policies and practices to insure that they are consistent with the state’s environmental policy as set forth in RSA 9-B:7.
II.(a) Each agency shall, prior to a decision to undertake an action which, may significantly affect the environment, prepare an environmental impact evaluation pursuant to paragraph III and conduct an early public scoping process.
(b) To initiate an early public scoping process, the agency shall provide notice which shall include, but not be limited to, the date, time, and location of any proposed public scoping meeting and the duration of the public comment period to any other state agency whose activities may reasonably be expected to affect or be affected by the proposed action and shall give notice of the scoping meeting twice in 2 different weeks, the last publication to be 7 days before the hearing, in one newspaper of general circulation throughout the state or in the area which is the area primarily affected by the proposed action.
(c) Members of the public and any interested state agency representatives may submit comments on the nature and extent of any environmental impacts of the proposed action during the 30 days following the publication of the notice of the early public scoping process pursuant to this section.
(d) A public scoping meeting shall be held at the discretion of the agency or if 25 persons or an association having not less than 25 persons requests such a meeting within 10 days of the publication of the notice in the newspaper. A public scoping meeting shall be held not less than 10 days following the notice of the proposed action in the newspaper or after the public request. The public comment period shall remain open for at least 5 days following the meeting.
(1) A description of the proposed action.
(2) A description of the purpose and need of the proposed action.
(3) A list of the criteria for a site for the proposed action.
(4) A list of potential sites for the proposed action.
(5) The resources of any proposed site of the proposed action.
(6) The environmental limitations of such sites.
(7) Potential alternatives to the proposed action.
(8) Any additional information the agency deems necessary.
(f) Any agency submitting comments or participating in the public scoping meeting pursuant to this section shall include, to the extent practicable, but not be limited to, information about the resources of any proposed site of the proposed action, any plans of the commenting agency that may affect or be affected by the proposed action, any permits or approvals that may be necessary for the proposed action, and any appropriate measures that would mitigate the impact of the proposed action, including, but not limited to, recommendations as to preferred sites for the proposed action or alternatives for the proposed action that have not been identified.
(g) The agency shall consider any comments received pursuant to this section or any information obtained during the public scoping meeting in selecting the proposed actions to be addressed in the environmental impact evaluation and shall evaluate in its environmental impact evaluation any substantive issues raised during the early public scoping process that pertain to a proposed action or site, or alternative actions or sites.
III. Each state department, institution, or agency responsible for the primary recommendation or initiation of actions which may significantly affect the environment shall in the case of each such proposed action make a detailed written evaluation of its environmental impact before deciding whether to undertake or approve such action. All such environmental impact evaluations shall be detailed statements setting forth the following:
(a) A description of the proposed action which shall include, but not be limited to, a description of the purpose and need of the proposed action, and, in the case of a proposed facility, a description of the infrastructure needs of such facility, including, but not limited to, parking, water supply, wastewater treatment, and the square footage of the facility.
(b) The environmental consequences of the proposed action, including cumulative, direct and indirect effects which might result during and subsequent to the proposed action.
(c) Any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided and irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources should the proposal be implemented.
(d) Alternatives to the proposed action, including the alternative of not proceeding with the proposed action and, in the case of a proposed facility, a list of all the sites controlled by or reasonably available to the agency that would meet the stated purpose of such facility.
(e) An evaluation of the proposed action’s consistency and each alternative’ s consistency with the state plan of conservation and development, an evaluation of each alternative including, to the extent practicable, whether it avoids, minimizes, or mitigates environmental impacts and, where appropriate, a description of detailed mitigation measures proposed to minimize environmental impacts, including, but not limited to, where appropriate, a site plan.
(f) An analysis of the short term and long term economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the proposed action.
(g) The effect of the proposed action on the use and conservation of energy resources.
(h) A description of the effects of the proposed action on sacred sites or archaeological sites of state or national importance.
(i) In the case of an action which affects existing housing, the evaluation shall also contain a detailed statement analyzing housing consequences of the proposed action, including direct and indirect effects which might result during and after the proposed action, categorized by income group and race.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
HB 76-FN - FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT creating an environmental policy for New Hampshire.
The Departments of Environmental Services, Administrative Services, and Cultural Resources state this bill will increase state expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2008 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on state, county and local revenue or county and local expenditures.
The Department of Environmental Services states this bill requires it to perform a public scoping process and detailed environmental impact evaluation for any action that would significantly affect the environment that is taken by a state department, institution, or agency, or is funded in whole or in part by the state. The Department issues approximately 12,000 environmental permits and awards over $50,000,000 in environmental grants per year. The Department assumes that a large, but unknown percentage of these actions would significantly affect the environment, thereby triggering the requirement to conduct a public scoping process and environmental impact evaluation. The Department can not estimate the cost per evaluation because of the varying magnitude of environmental impact that each proposed action has. The Department states that the costs of this bill can not be absorbed within the existing budget as an unknown number of new personnel would be required to comply with this bill. This bill does not establish any new positions or make an appropriation.
The Department of Administrative Services estimates this bill will increase state expenditures by $12,960,000. The Department assumes that the Bureau of Public Works does an average of 40 projects per year, the average cost of an environmental assessment is $200,000, and the average cost of advertising a public scoping meeting is $250. The Department further assumes that the inflation rate for construction projects is 9% per year and estimates that the Bureau has an average of $55,000,000 worth of projects per year that will be delayed by one year due to this legislation. Using these assumptions the calculated costs are as follows:
Environmental Assessment: 40 projects x $200,000 = $ 8,000,000
Cost Increase due to One Year Delay: $55,000,000 x 9% = 4,950,000
Cost to place Advertisements: 40 projects X $250 = 10,000
The Department of Cultural Resources states there are too many unknowns, such as the number of projects affected, meetings held, or environmental impact evaluations, to reasonably estimate the fiscal impact of this bill.