by Roy Morrison
Merrimack Station, the coal fired power plant on the banks of the Merrimack River in Bow, New Hampshire, has recently passed its fiftieth anniversary. It’s New England’s last remaining coal plant.
It’s also N.H.’s largest point source of carbon pollution. The plant owners, Granite Shore Power, proclaim that they scrupulously comply with EPA and state regulations. The plant uses the Merrimack River water for cooling and dumps heated water into the Merrimack as the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions and asthma-causing particulates pour into the air.
I spent a lot of time in the N.H. winter being able to kayak south of the plant even in the coldest weather. To the north, the river was usually almost frozen solid. But south of the plant, down river, the ice had been melted by the hot water. The river is quite attractive if you have your back to the power plant. I could kayak on the coldest days, paddling along with small- to medium-sized ice flows moving down river. I paddled hard and stayed warm and tried to forget about the power plant. Winter kayaking when heavy snow is falling without wind also treated me to a stunning optical illusion. The snow appeared to be rising out of the water and into the sky.
In October 2022, a trial began in Federal Court in Concord N.H. The Conservation Law Foundation and the Sierra Club challenged the ecological consequences of continuing dumping hot water into the Merrimack, calling for installation of cooling towers. Merrimack Station runs now as a peaking plant dispatched by the New England ISO (Independent System Operator) as needed.
Operating the coal plant as a standby “peaker” is profitable. The latest deal is for 2025-2026, and Granite Shore Power receives $785,000 per month for being on-call that amounts to $9,420,000 a year, the costs being paid by captive ratepayers. There is a wide range of renewable power and energy storage options to meet the needs of the forward capacity market. California’s use of battery systems, as opposed to natural gas peaking plants, has made this abundantly clear. We can use, for example, electronically networked virtual power plants combining solar wind and storage that will include the batteries of EVs.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions Soar
The fifty year life of Merrimack Station also corresponds with the catastrophic global increase since 1970 of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers are astonishing.
Carbon dioxide rose from 280 parts per million (ppm), stable for 10,000 years, to 419 ppm on February 4, 2023. But what is startling is that in 1970 atmospheric carbon dioxide was just 315 ppm. It took 200 years to increase carbon dioxide concentration by 35 parts per million. In the fifty year life of the Bow Plant, global carbon dioxide increased 104 parts per million, as we are rapidly approaching irreversible climate disaster. The last time that carbon dioxide was above 400 ppm was at least 800,000 years ago.
Somehow, a half century of mushrooming global carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution is generally in full compliance with law and regulation. EPA approved. Humanity is now responsible for some 37 billion tons (gigatons) of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year.
It’s certainly time to stop N.H. ratepayers from being forced to pay Granite Shores $9.4 million a year to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. ISO New England shouldn’t permit a coal plant, absent 100 percent carbon capture, to bid in the Forward Capacity Market and get paid to continue to pollute. Operation of Merrimack Station means embracing ecological catastrophe.
Roy Morrison builds solar plants; see www.SunPartnersSolar.com. His latest book is The New Green Republic.
More than a century ago, a railroad baron confessed that the Interstate Commerce Commission would have little effect on profiteering.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
To the Editor:
What’s love got to do with saving humanity and the natural environment we are part of? Everything! February is recognized for being a month dedicated to and all about love. We focus on romance, expressions of love and acceptance, and dedication to our relationships with one another. What about love, acceptance, and dedication to the natural environments we are a part of?
When was the last time you went outside to simply “be” with your natural surroundings? Not only when the weather is comfortable and pleasant, but also when it is raining, snowing, or gloomy? When we are in relationship with our respective humans, we commit to standing by their side in all the good times and not-so-good times. We support and defend one another in the good, the bad, and ugly times. Why is it that we so easily bail out on our relationship with Nature? The most important sentient entity that demonstrates unconditional giving and resilience.
When our friends, family, and loved ones are harmed, we often feel a deep sense of protection and will speak up and act out quite assertively when necessary. When was the last time you stood up to defend and speak out against the harms inflicted upon Nature? Nature cannot speak for herself in the way humans can and do, but Nature certainly does speak to us. We need to make time and take the time to listen to Nature in the same way we make time for our human relationships. We cannot know one another if we don’t spend quality time with each other. The same is true for our relationship with Nature.
The New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is a statewide grassroots non-profit that is eager to have open discussions about what we can do to actively protect our natural environments by recognizing the Rights of Nature to exist, thrive, and flourish free from human-inflicted irreparable harms. To learn more, visit www.nhcommunityrights.org or email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you and taking action together!
Michelle Sanborn (she), President and Board Member, NHCRN
What a refreshingly wholesome thought.
Putin Won’t Compromise
To the Editor:
In the last issue of the New Hampshire Gazette, Mr. Ehrhart suggests that NATO provoked Russian President Putin into attacking Ukraine. He suggests that the attack by Russia on Ukraine was predictable because of this provocation. He also does not agree that the battle being waged by Ukrainians is one about good versus evil or democracy versus dictatorship. Even if accurate, none of these claims would justify the violations of national sovereignty, international laws and previous treaties that Mr. Putin violated when he invaded Ukraine in 2014 and again in 2022. I disagree with all of Mr. Ehrhart’s premises, based on personal experience.
It is worth remembering the circumstances at the end of WWII. The war ended without a formal peace treaty to finalize European borders. The nations of Europe were divided among the victors of that war with most Eastern European countries assigned to the authority of the Soviet Union (e.g. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany). These countries as well as those under the authority of the French, British and Americans were promised that at a later time they would be able to democratically elect their own governments. This did happen in Western Europe, but not in the Eastern European countries controlled by the Soviet Union. Only after the Berlin Wall came done was there an agreement in 1994 to finalize all of the borders. At that time Russia agreed with the U.S., UK and France to finalize Ukraine’s borders, but Ukraine was required to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory and agree to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Both of these requirements were met by Ukraine.
My parents and I fled from Hungary, which was under Soviet Union control, during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. We came to the U.S. as refugees. Probably, as the result of that experience, I worked for 30 years as a case worker in various Amnesty International groups helping to secure the release of “Prisoners of Conscience.” I understand issues of human rights and dictatorships from a practical point of view.
NATO did not have to attract members, because most European nations felt vulnerable to Russian provocations and/or attacks, especially considering the threat of nuclear weapons. Countries joined for their own self-interest. The Russian invasion was not predictable, but resulted from Mr. Putin’s dream of a new Russian empire. Another Russian leader, could have used diplomacy with Russia’s neighbors and NATO to strengthen Russian security. Certainly, Russia did not fear being invaded by Ukraine or Finland. The Russian War on Ukraine is in fact a fight between democracy and a dictatorship, because Russia is intimidated by western influences. Russian behavior caused neutral Sweden and Finland to request NATO membership.
Mr. Ehrhart poses the question: how would we feel if Mexico and Canada were to sign security agreements with Russia? The answer is obvious: we would not like it, however, countries have the right to make their own decisions, without fearing that we would otherwise invade them.
How can this war end? Either the oligarchs in Russia decide to isolate and replace Mr. Putin before the Russian economy is significantly impacted and Russia loses all of its markets for fossil fuels, or some international agreement is reached. For example, Russia could request that a UN peace-keeping force be deployed on its border with Ukraine, and that Ukraine provide a special level of autonomy, monitored by the UN, in Ukrainian areas with a high proportion of Russian speaking residents.
Currently, with Mr. Putin in charge, it is hard to imagine that he, like Hitler at the beginning of WW II, will be restrained by appeasement.
Mr. Ehrhart is more than capable of speaking for himself. We’ll take this opportunity to express our own misgivings about the Ukraine/Russia conflict.
Viewed in black and white terms, it’s simple enough: Russia committed a brutal act of aggression, and deserves whatever it takes to drive it back within its own borders.
We remember all too well, though, having been coerced into a tragically stupid military misadventure. How can we condemn a powerless Russian conscript, roped into someone else’s imperial fantasy? Of course, many of those regular Russian conscripts are dead or maimed now, replaced on the front lines by criminals employed by the Wagner Group.
President Eisenhower warned us nearly 70 years ago that the Military-Industrial Complex has an agenda of its own. Today our so-called “defense contractors” are vastly more powerful than they were in Ike’s day. And they’re all too happy to replenish the Defense Department’s stockpiles.
In retrospect the Iraq War was an obvious blunder—a war crime, really. To what extent was that war driven by the same motivation?
The Ukrainian peoples’ resistance to Russian aggression has been truly awe-inspiring—which makes this situation all the more susceptible to profit-driven manipulation.
Catalans: A Threatened National Minority
To the Editor:
When the Catalan independence movement, after unsuccessfully trying to reach a consensus with the Spanish state on a referendum on self-determination, organized a unilateral referendum in 2017, the Spanish government remained unwilling to engage in dialogue and to seek a political solution. Spain sent 10,000 police to Catalonia to prevent the referendum by force and then fraudulently used the judiciary to prosecute and convict pro-independence supporters for non-criminal acts in order to make them abandon their pro-independence ideas and their struggle.
That is why it was so important for the pro-independence supporters to defend themselves judicially outside Spain. The President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who had organized the referendum in 2017, went into exile in Belgium with members of his government, because they were sure that they would not have a fair trial in Spain. The Spanish justice system has tried to get Belgium to hand them over through the almost automatic mechanism of Euro-surrender orders between EU countries. This has meant that the exiled Catalan politicians have led a very strong fight to prevent the surrender orders and to show that Spain would try them with sentences decided in advance.
For the time being, the struggle of the Catalan pro-independence exiles (who have also been elected members of the European Parliament during this time) has succeeded in having Euro-arrangements for their surrender denied by the Belgian, German, Scottish and Italian courts because of the risk that they would be judged unfairly. Also the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has admonished Spain in a report of June 13, 2019, as well as the Council of Europe has admonished Spain in Resolution 2381 (Cilevics report) of June 21, 2021, and in the report of Marija Pejcinovic of June 10, 2022.
But for the moment, the greatest success that the struggle of the Catalan exile has achieved has been that on 02/31/2022 the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg has responded to some preliminary questions formulated by the Spanish justice, in which it protested the fact that Belgium had denied the European arrest warrant for the surrender of the Catalan politician Lluís Puig exiled in this country. The Luxembourg Court responded that Spain could issue Euro-warrants and that Belgium, in a normal situation, should accept them, but clearly stipulated that, although Spanish justice does not have a generalized systemic failure (as Hungary, Poland or Romania have), it could have a systemic failure due to the fact that Lluís Puig belongs to an Objectively Identifiable Group formed by pro-independence Catalans.
The future sentence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg could, based on the present sentence, certify that the Catalans are a national minority that does not have fair trials in Spain: with prison sentences to nine people, with the repression of 4,200 Catalans (700 with open court cases), with the illegal spying through Pegasus, with the infiltration of police within the peaceful Catalan social movements….
At some point, it will have to be contemplated that, in order for the Catalan national minority to be able to guarantee the protection of its identity, its centenary institutions and its linguistic, cultural and social integrity, and to be recognized the full right to govern itself according to its way of conceiving the democratic game (which is different from Spain’s way), the solution would be the exercise of the right to self-determination and the creation, within Europe, of a new state of the Catalans.
Jordi Oriola Folch
Aren’t Palestinians Human?
To the Editor:
Recently, Secretary of State Blinken met with Israeli leader Netanyahu and later, with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader. Blinken told Israelis that the U.S. condemns Palestinian “terrorism,” wherein seven Israelis were killed by a Palestinian, but he said nothing about the ten Palestinians killed in Jenin’s refugee camp, including two children, by an Israeli military force, including some occupation soldiers who wore civilian clothing to enter the refugee camp.
Blinken neglected to mention Israel’s 56-year brutal military occupation of not only the West Bank, but of East Jerusalem. Mr. Blinken also failed to comment on Israel’s creation of a Jim Crow segregation system (apartheid) that deprives Palestinians of their civil and human rights. (www.timesofisrael) Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur has stated that Israel in 1967, created “a deeply discriminatory dual legal and political system that privileges the 700,000 Israeli Jewish settlers living in the 300 illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
The UN states that apartheid is a “crime against humanity.” (https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/crimes-against-humanity.shtml)
No mention by the Secretary about the ongoing violent settler attacks against Palestinians, 144 over several days, following the Jerusalem murders. These violent attacks often include destroying the economic lifeblood of many Palestinian farmers, their olive trees, as well as their homes and animals.
N.H. Veterans for Peace condemns the oppression of people whether they be in China, Iran, Myanmar, or in the Palestinian Territories, including Gaza. Palestinians have long been dehumanized and seen as the “other” and depicted as “terrorists.” Where are the media who would ask what are the historical and political conditions that have created Palestinian resistance?
As human beings living under a cruel occupation, don’t Palestinians have a right to live in dignity and with freedom? As Nelson Mandela said: “Freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” We, Veterans for Peace, agree.
N.H. Veterans for Peace
Thank you for addressing this issue again. Yes, the Palestinians deserve dignity and freedom. As do the Yemenis, who are currently on the deadly receiving end of our military aid to Saudi Arabia.
Subsidize Cultivated Meat
To the editor,
Most people aren’t aware that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of global warming. To help address the environmental crisis, our political leaders must support increased government funding for cultivated-meat research. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, cultivated meat is grown from animal cells, without slaughter.
This new protein requires a fraction of the greenhouse-gas emissions that raising and killing livestock does. While the Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first cultivated-meat product, which should hit the American market soon, more public money is necessary for it to reach price parity with slaughtered meat.
We can hardly wait to hear the howls: “They’re going to raise your taxes and take away your ’burgers!”
To the Editor:
If you wanna make your life great again in America why would black voters vote differently than white voters or any other voter—good policies and laws require strong competent leaders.
The Democrats’ DNC is stirring division in this country via race bating [sic, passim] for votes again!
“The DNC chairman, Jaime Harrison, said that the new calendar reflects the diversity of America and “puts Black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina.” (The N.Y. Sun)
So the DNC is calling white New Hampshire voters racists by the fact Americans of African descent choose not to live in N.H.?
This follows the same race bating logic used against Georgia voting law changes Biden railed against that actually increased all voter turnout in Georgia this last election.
Ironically, after MLB baseball cancelled the All Star game in Georgia in woke protest this obvious race bating may back fire in both states, N.H. and Georgia.
Americans should vote for leaders that will enforce equality, opportunity, and common sense not divide us in race bating.
For a guy who professes to abhor racial division, you certainly put a lot of effort into concocting a racially divisive motive for the changes in the Democratic Party’s proposed primary lineup.
Can “Advanced Recycling” Be Made Safe?
To the Editor:
What do lead, dioxin, benzene and toluene have in common?
They are all highly toxic, and they are produced in great amounts as the “side products” at “Advanced Recycling” facilities throughout the United States. “Advanced Recycling” is a process that uses extreme heat and chemicals to break down plastics, to produce fuels or new plastic. Last year, the N.H. State House passed a bill permitting Advanced Recycling facilities in our state. The Department of Environmental Services (DES) denied a petition from the N.H. HealthCare Workers for Climate Action—1,000 strong—to create regulations that would give us guardrails assuring such facilities would not be off-gassing these toxic brews, saying lawmakers did not provide them authority to protect our air, water and land from Advanced Recycling. This year, the bill SB 267 will be heard in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, February 7th to give the DES jurisdiction to regulate this largely untested process. Please join me by contacting your state senator to support SB 267.
This paper comes out too late for the action you propose, but since we found it educational, so might our readers. Thanks.
Deplorable, Power-Seeking Incompetents
To the Editor:
When young and naïve, I believed that those who achieved positions of power did so because of superior talent, hard work and desire to serve. The subsequent decades, however, have made a cynic of me. Countless examples of incompetence and greed by those in power at all levels have demonstrated that competence is loosely correlated with power and the desire to serve the community is often subservient to self-aggrandizement. The drive for power and the ability to network are often the only requirements for success. This situation occurs across occupations, including elites in business, government, education, healthcare and even religion. But it would be difficult to find a more deplorable collection of power-seeking incompetents than the modern-day Republican Party.
At the pinnacle of the Republican Party, ex-president Donald Trump is a blatant example of self-seeking incompetence, but this attribute runs deep within the Republicans. Nowhere was this more evident than in the recent clown show that marked the shaky ascendance of Kevin McCarthy to Speaker of the House. McCarthy is a prime example of self-centered ambition. Lacking any concern for the national interest, he was willing to trade position and power with the ill-named Freedom Caucus to be elected Speaker. As a result, crackpot supporters of silly conspiracy theories such as Marjorie Taylor Green, Andy Biggs and Jim Jordan now occupy significant positions of power in the House. Republican obsession with power has become farce in the case of George Santos. Recently elected to the House, Santos is a grifter who has lied about virtually all aspects of his background including education, employment history, religious affiliation and even his mother’s location during 9/11. Rather than jeopardize the slim Republican majority in the House, McCarthy has failed to take action against Santos, sanctimoniously supporting him as the legally elected Representative of voters of his district in N.Y. Apparently, there is no bottom to Republican hypocrisy.
Although the Republican clown show may be scorned as political theater, their actions have real world consequences. For example, as part of his deal with the Freedom Caucus, McCarthy is threatening to scuttle any effort to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is a decades old law that prevents the government from issuing Treasury debt to pay legally budgeted expenses beyond a prescribed limit. The debt ceiling can be raised only through Congressional action. Since the government budget has consistently been in deficit both in Republican and Democratic administrations, raising the debt ceiling has become an unfortunately common occurrence. It was raised three times in the Trump administration.
Failure to raise the debt ceiling to accommodate already approved expenditures will have severe consequences. If interest on outstanding treasury bills is not paid, the U.S. government will be in default for the first time in history. One of the sources of U.S. prosperity has been that U.S. government debt is the most trusted financial investment in the world. Treasuries are considered virtually risk free and foreign investors have helped to finance government expenditures at low interest rates. If that status is threatened, interest on Treasuries will skyrocket. The rates will quickly reverberate throughout the economy. Combined with the Fed’s current interest rate tightening, the result will be unpredictable but certainly catastrophic. Spending on Social Security and Medicare will be threatened as well as spending on all social services. The stock market will undoubtedly react negatively. A meltdown comparable to the worst recessions (if not the Great Depression) is likely.
No responsible legislator would vote to deny raising the debt ceiling. Of course, the problem is that too many Republican Representatives are not responsible. Although Republicans have threatened the ceiling in the past, the current unhinged and incompetent legislators may have no qualms to court catastrophe.
Robert D. Russell, PhD
Through the earlier shenanigans of its reprobate members, this rogue mob has already tarnished the nation’s credit rating. Just by threatening to do it again, they do more damage. It’s despicable behavior, but they have no shame.
A Telephonic Remonstrance
The following message was received by telephone:
“Robert Marshall here. Look, you’ve got to stop telling America that Humphrey Bogart was a guard at the Portsmouth Naval Prison. He was escorting a prisoner to the prison, and the man bolted, and Humphrey shot him in the leg, very much like the novel and movie The Last Detail. Ciao for now.”
Right you are. We are shocked—shocked!—to see that we have allowed that inaccuracy to creep into our files. It has now been expunged.
When Harry Met Meghan
You know folks, the Harry and Meghan story is just a rerun. Their whole story first played out before World War II back when Elizabeth’s uncle broke from the royal lineage and moved to France. People crack under the pressure of being a royal and just want a real life instead.
The royal job description requires one to incessantly duck, dissemble, cover-up, omit, propagandize, fake, pose, dress-up, parade about, wave like a hero…all to convince the rest of the population that God picked their family to live in a castle and rule forever.
It’s a hard job. Some people, like Harry, would rather be somewhere else and do something else, like tell the truth occasionally. Harry’s Mom, Diana, went through a similar wringer too, so give him credit for learning something from his elders. That is something we don’t do very well in America.
Woods Cross, Utah
Thanks for bringing this up. Not because we give a damn about bickering so-called royals, but because it gives us an excuse to run, on the opposite page, a favorite excerpt from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.