Environment New Hampshire - the Power of One.


I wrote the following in 2010, after becoming intrigued with an organization that announced a new paper on extreme weather in New Hampshire. It turns out the organization was more interesting than the paper, and I started to write this intending to put it up at the Watts Up With That blog, but I never got it complete enough, and didn't think it would be that interesting to readers. I'm really much more interested in science that funding shenanigans, anyway.

Now in 2014, Environment NH is flexing their do-good wings again, and I see from a press release at NH WindWatch's FaceBook page:

As the New Hampshire State House considers legislation that would block clean and renewable wind power, environmental, business, and elected officials will join with Environment New Hampshire to release a new report that documents the environmental benefits from the growth of wind and discuss the importance of wind energy in New Hampshire.

The report will reveal impacts of wind power on air pollution, including climate-altering carbon emissions and projects emission reductions and water saved through 2018 if wind energy development isn't stymied by short-sighted policies. The report is being released as state lawmakers consider legislation that would halt wind development in New Hampshire and just weeks after Congress failed to extend critical federal incentives for wind energy.

2014 update: I bet there will be references to this wind power report, see Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water

Note this doesn't say Environment New Hampshire wrote the report. In fact, it all sounds so vaguely familiar....

Global Warming and Extreme Weather

A few months ago I read a small news item that a New Hampshire environmental group was going to have a news conference to release a new global warming report. The story was three sentences long and included the typo "global warming cold" - they meant could, but I'm looking forward to saying "It's not just cold, it's Global Warming Cold!"

I heard about the news conference Monday night, found the group on the web at http://www.EnvironmentNewHampshire.org/ , and on Tuesday I called the one staffer with a New Hampshire phone number for the time and place (State House Legislative Office Building lobby Wednesday at 1000). The middle sentence of the item said the report would highlight extreme weather events in southern New Hampshire. Okay, that would be a couple ice storms and maybe this hot summer. I better write a counterpoint, there's no way their report will be balanced. So that took up Tuesday night, I thought it turned out pretty well, though I had to make more references to non-New Hampshire events than I wanted.

The State House is only eight miles from home and on the way to work, so it's an easy stop. As I expected, there were more Environment NH folk and speakers than reporters. Speakers included a state senator, a state rep, and the president of the state chapter of the Audubon Society. As I expected, the speeches were forgettable. They also handed out press packets with copies of the report - no URL, but I eventually found it at http://www.frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/global-warming-and-extreme-weather. The report itself wasn't remarkable, nothing I didn't already know or expect, but it appeared devoid of New Hampshire content and is just a summary of other people's research. Quite forgettable, actually, and for that matter, so was my counterpoint, though it served it role quite well and I had enough copies for everyone there.

Searching the .pdf yielded one New Hampshire reference:

Northeast Floods (2010): Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania In March, 2010, New England was struck by a series of extremely wet "Nor'easters" that dumped record rainfall on much of the region. On March 13, a large storm dropped 6 to 10 inches of rain in parts of New England and the mid-Atlantic region. Then, two weeks later, a second major storm deposited several more inches of rain on the region's already saturated ground.

That's it. In 48 pages. It's not even worthy of comparison to when we had some really serious flooding, see my Weather Before and After the Hurricane of 1938

A big clue came from the authors, Tony Dutzik from Frontier Group and Nathan Wilcox from Environment America Research & Policy Center. Environment America must be an umbrella organization for all the state chapters.

A Web of .orgs and organized fund raising

This aspect was becoming more interesting than either the press conference or the report. We'll get back to the Frontier Group and Environment America Research & Policy Center in a bit.

First, a little history. A long time ago, A group was formed called "U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), which stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being." PIRG predates the web - pirg.org was claimed in 1994 and uspirg.org in 1998. US Pirg lists two addresses: 44 Winter Street, 4th Fl., Boston, MA 02108 and Federal Advocacy Office, 218 D Street SE, 1st Fl., Washington, DC 20003. Remember those.

The domain environmentamerica.org was taken in 2003. The administrative Email is at pirg.org, the registrant's Email is at ffpir.org. Whozzat? Well, that links to http://www.FundForThePublicInterest.org/. They're a canvassing and fund raising organization, with testimonials about voter registration, petitioning on behalf of various causes, and have clients like the Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, and Environment California. Their USPS address? 44 Winter Street - remember that? http://www.EnvironmentAmerica.org/ lists USPS addresses of 44 Winter Street and 218 D Street. All three organizations are at the same offices!

Back in New Hampshire, The domain EnvironmentNewHampshire.org was taken in 2005, with the same owner Emails as Environment America. They do have a local address, 30 South Main Street, Suite 301, Concord, NH 03301. It's two doors down from the Concord Cooperative Market in an old Victorian house converted to offices for a real estate company and Home Design business. Environment New Hampshire doesn't have a sign facing Main St. Hmm, http://www.NHPirg.org/ has the same address. And no sign.

I checked the net for siblings of Environment New Hampshire, and they may all exist, with web pages generally looking much like the other states. (Environment California may be a separate organization, and Environment Canada is a branch of government.) I'm just amazed at the number of organizations that are associated with our little Environment New Hampshire. I'm beginning to see why folks like Joe Romm (ClimateProgress.org, backed by the Center for American Progress), and Gavin Schmidt (RealClimate.org, founded by Environmental Media Services, now Science Communication Network), think the skeptics must be funded by big oil and can't believe they're run by tips, time, and toil. The heck with big oil (they fund the likes of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia), how do we tie into a group like the Fund For The Public Interest?

That's not the end of it - Environment America Research & Policy Center is registered with the New Hampshire Secretary of State as a non-profit entity. Their 2010 Non Profit Report lists no New Hampshire officers and directors, they're all in Boston (yes, 44 Winter St), New Haven, Chicago, and Washington DC. (Differences in tax treatment of types of non-profits mean organizations like Environment New Hampshire need a separate organization for different activites, hence the Research & Policy Center.)

Other corporate organization papers are interesting too. Environment New Hampshire was organized as Environment New Hampshire: Clean Air Clean Water Open Spaces, Inc.. The Research & Policy Center had board members in New Hampshire when it was founded.

One group that is a thorn in the side of political campaigns is Open Secrets, and it turns out that Environment New Hampshire distributed $30,000 to election campaigns in 2008.

The personnel trail is remarkable too. For example, Rob Sargent is at Environment America Research & Policy Center. And at Environment New Hampshire. And at Environment New Hampshire Research & Policy Center.

I haven't talked to anyone at these organizations, but there's lots of room for speculation about why some of these organizations exist. For example, did the Fund for the Public Interest create Environment America et al to have a cause to raise funds for while business with their other customers was slow? I'm sure they keep a healthy percentage of the funds they raise, this way they keep control of all the money!

Whew. And to think my first look at the Environment New Hampshire web site left me impressed that an organization I had never heard of with a staff of one administrative person could host a press conference to release a report on extreme weather in New Hampshire.

Oh yes - I promised I'd get back to the Frontier Group. Just a quick note - their domain name, FrontierGroup.org, is registered to FFPIR at 44 Winter St!

Finally, check out Google Maps for 44 Winter St, Boston, MA 02108, it has [used to have] links to pages about the various organizations there. Click on MassPIRG and then "1 review". Anyone care to create a 501(c)3 business called Climate Change International and have the FFPIRG shake down some elderly widows for funds to distribute to deserving bloggers?

And to think that two days before I had never heard of Environment New Hampshire.

Contact Ric Werme or return to his home page.

Written 2010 Dec 3, not posted until 2014 Jan 20, last updated 2014 Jan 20.