Franconia, NH - Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter took part in a field hearing of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held this Monday, June 4th, at the summit of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH. The hearing brought together political leaders, scientists, business representatives, and local community members to discuss the increasing impact of global warming on New England and its economy.
" Our generation has a moral responsibility to take leadership on this issue," said Congresswoman Shea-Porter following the hearing. " We have the responsibility to be scientific and technological leaders in the fight to protect our environment and our way of life. We can, we must, and we will succeed."
In addition to New Hampshire Representatives Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes,the panel brought together other members of the NewEngland delegation, including Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Select Committee, and Rep. John Larson (D-CT). Most hearing participants and audience members traveled to the summit of Cannon Mountain by gondola, although a group of local high school students made the trek up the 4,186 foot peak on foot.
Dr. Cameron Wake of the Climate Change ResearchCenter at the University of New Hampshire was one of the key witnesses to testify at the hearing. An expert on the climate shifts in the Northeast over the past century, Dr. Wake reported noted in his testimony that " changes in regional climate will affect many aspects of our lives and our communities,including our health and welfare, agriculture and natural ecosystems, water and air quality, and our economy." He went on to warn that the climate change we are now experiencing cannot be explained by natural processes and that, without corrective action, " we are headed towards catastrophic change ."
New Hampshire, in particular, has already felt the impact of what many believe to be the result of changes in the regional climate - enduring three '100 year floods' in the past three years alone. Responding to a question from Rep. Shea-Porter, Alice Chamberlin, a Special Assistant to Governor John Lynch for environmental issues, estimated that the floods had cost New Hampshire over $35 million in damage to roads, bridges, and private property.
Other witnesses who testified at the hearing included:
Dr. Timothy Perkins, Director ofthe Proctor Maple Research Centerat the University of Vermont
Betty Blaisdell, Manager of the Environmental Stewardship Program at Timberland
Bill Koury, an avid sportsman and former President of the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation.
New Hampshire is fast becoming a national leader on the issue of climate change. Congresswoman Shea-Porter has voted in Congress to increase funding for renewable energy research and promote the use of alternative fuels. Last year, Governor Lynch endorsed the bipartisan 25 by 25 initiative that set the goal of producing 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States from clean, renewable sources. New Hampshire was also an inaugural member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an agreement between the governors of 10 Northeastern states to curb carbon emissions from power plants.
" This is not just a matter of academic interest ," continued Congresswoman Shea-Porter." Climate change has already started to impact our way of life here in New Hampshire. If the warming trend continues, we will start to see major problems for local economies that depend upon tourism revenue from skiers, hikers, and sportsmen ."
An October 2006 study by the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment(NECIA) found that average temperatures in the Northeast have increased at a rate of almost 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1970. Over the same period, the NECIA found that the number of snow-covered days has decreased and the wetness of the snow has increased, corresponding with an increase in average winter temperatures of 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit.