Eversource has contributed over $50,000 to Governor Chris Sununu, and that investment has paid dividends. Sununu has a record of energy and environmental policies that put the interests of his wealthy corporate donors above the people of New Hampshire. Here are six examples:
1) He’s a climate change denier.
Despite frequently mentioning his background as an environmental engineer, Governor Sununu said on NHPR’s The Exchange that he doesn’t know whether carbon emissions are the leading cause of rising global temperatures despite having “looked at the data very closely” himself. It’s hard to tell if Sununu’s climate change denial is genuine, or if it’s just willful ignorance he employs to justify pursuing energy and environmental policies that meet the demands of big corporations and utility companies like Eversource that fund his campaigns. 2) His handpicked Education Commissioner doesn’t want public schools to teach about climate change.
Governor Sununu’s choice for Education Commissioner (and NH’s own Betsy DeVos) Frank Edelblut took issue with New Hampshire’s science education standards, saying they referenced climate change too heavily.
"So ‘climate change’ appeared in our old standard one time. In the current standard, it appears 17 times. If you look at our old standard, the term ‘human impact’ appears one time, and it now appears 16 times in our current standard. And so what we want to do is we want to make sure that we’re providing our students with a holistic view of science."
During his run for governor, Edelblut also exposed himself as a climate change denier, saying that “while it's a fact that the earth's temperature is rising, it's not clear what the cause is or whether humans have any role in it.” It bears repeating: Sununu put Edelblut in charge of the New Hampshire Department of Education.
3) He supported Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement
When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement - the international agreement to combat climate change and mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions - Governor Sununu said he stood by Trump’s decision.
Sununu avoided giving an honest defense of Trump’s withdrawal, saying: “I don’t have a real reaction right now. To be honest it’s nothing I’ve really thought about, it’s a federal issue, it’s nothing, I’m focused on the 603 and what we do here.”
4) He refused to join the bipartisan US Climate Alliance
After Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Governor Sununu refused to include New Hampshire in the bipartisan US Climate Alliance, a group of states pledging to uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement. Sununu gave a nonsensical reason for his refusal, saying “we do not yet know [the US Climate Alliance’s] impact on our economy & environment.”
While Sununu was coming up with excuses, the Republican governors of Vermont and Massachusetts joined the US Climate Alliance and made statements in support of its goals.
5) He vetoed a widely-supported bipartisan renewable energy bill, threatening thousands of rural New Hampshire jobs Despite SB 365 passing with overwhelming bipartisan support, Governor Sununu vetoed it. The bill was designed to keep the state’s biomass industry supplying energy to the grid, but Sununu vetoed it to save money for the corporations and utility companies who fund his campaigns.
Almost immediately, two biomass plants, in Bethlehem and Tamworth, announced that they would have to close as a result of Sununu’s veto. A third plant, in Ashland, soon followed. It quickly became clear that Sununu’s veto would affect more than just the biomass industry, it would also devastate the timber industry, timberland owners, wood ash buyers, farmers, and local communities on the supply and demand side of the biomass plants.
Thankfully, Sununu’s veto was overridden by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, saving the state from his irresponsible mistake.
6) He vetoed another widely-supported bipartisan renewable energy bill, forcing towns and businesses to stall their plans to invest in solar power Another one of Sununu’s vetoes (SB 446, a bill that everyone but Sununu’s donors at Eversource supported) was not overridden, and it’s a perfect example of why New Hampshire cannot afford two more years of Chris Sununu in office.
SB 446 would have expanded the net metering cap in the state, allowing businesses and municipalities to invest in renewable energy projects and then earn credit for putting the power back on the grid. His veto killed the city of Dover’s plans for a large-scale solar power project. It also stands to hurt taxpayers in Dover and other towns in the long run.
For an “environmental engineer,” this was a short-sighted decision by Sununu, and it shows the extent of Eversource’s influence in the Sununu administration.