KeepHealthCare.ORG – Dartmouth students present clean water report to Legislature | News, Sports, Jobs
Chris Christensen, R-Merrimack, a veteran legislator well versed in clean water, was not sure fellow legislators were on the same page, so he invited a group of Dartmouth students to research the issue and present their findings to the Legislature.
On April 3, three students representing the Nelson A. Rockefeller Research Center presented their report to the Resources Committee reviewing the contamination at the Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack and offering suggestions on how the state can deal with it.
“We all needed to step back and take a look at the broader picture,” Christensen said. “From a legislative point of view, we didn’t have a broad spectrum of what’s going on in the rest of the country, and the students made an extra effort to be unbiased.”
The students provided case studies of New York, Vermont, Texas and Michigan, stating, “These states responded with investigations of the source of pollution and the introduction of measures that revise drinking water regulations.”
Daniel Schroeder, a research scientist and manager of the Policy Research Shop at the Rockefeller Research Center, said, “The report and presentation help the state establish clean water policies by comparing existing regulation to what other states and localities have done when faced with similar groundwater contamination.”
The report concluded with a number of policy recommendations that include expanding the size and responsibilities of the PFCs investigation team, monitoring scientific research on PFCs in order to enact appropriate policies that protect public health and taking into consideration the potential economic and health implications of any policy proposed in the future.
Christensen said the Legislature has worked on updating clean water policies in the past and is currently sponsoring two bills that are en route to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk for signing.
The House and Senate bills give the Department of Environmental Services the authority to oversee clean water standards.
“The bills say the DES will work in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services to set standards that can be changed more flexibly than if we have to pass laws to change them,” Christensen said.
A legislative effort to reduce the PFOA standard to 20 parts per trillion, which succeeded in Vermont, was defeated in 2016 for economic reasons.
The Clean Drinking and Groundwater Advisory has also approved a $500,000 allocation from the trust fund from the Exxon-Mobil settlement that will be used for research.
Christensen said the Legislature is progressing on the establishment of clean water legislation but appreciates the Dartmouth study.
“We already had bills in the hopper on those issues, but it’s good to have backup info that helps us set the rules,” he said.
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