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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

December 22, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee, and member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee;  Finance Committee; Citizens Trade Policy Commission; State Park System Advisory Council; and Comprehensive Cancer Plan Oversight Board.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

 


Six families have something special to be thankful for this Christmas. They are the families of young men and women who graduated from the Sullivan Academy last week. The Academy is an alternative to long prison sentences for offenders who will commit to getting their lives in order, often beginning by giving up drug and alcohol use.

The academy program was started in Sullivan County by then Superior Court Judge, Bob Morrill, a decade ago. The program is so successful it has been adopted in all 10 counties in New Hampshire. Some participants complete the program in a year; one graduate last week had been at it for four years making him the longest participant in Academy history.

John Brehm, the Academy director, began the ceremonies by pointing out that the recidivism rate amongst graduates is low and while the program is "not easy" each graduate sets an example and "creates hope for others." The graduates reflected on their own experiences trying to get their lives in order and staying out of trouble. They had learned that they had to change and redirect their own lives away from addiction. One young man, during his time in the academy, had earned an oil burner technician certificate while another noted he had been struggling to get his life in order so he could set a good example for his son.

Another graduate said the Sullivan Academy provides participants with possibly their one last chance to get "clean and sober." The six graduates last week deserve our congratulations for restarting their lives. And for taxpayers, the savings from having people outside of prison instead of being in prison is high. 

* * *

Earlier this year, the legislature passed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) bill. RGGI is a cooperative effort by 10 Northeastern states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning plants in those states. It is a mandatory, market-based cap-and-trade program that limits emissions in the region. The program was a top priority of the environmental community and Governor Lynch. New Hampshire's involvement in the RGGI process started under former Governor Craig Benson.

As the incoming Presidential administration puts its environmental plans in place, the implementation of a RGGI program nationally will certainly be considered. There are some RGGI supporters who have believed from day one that a cap-and-trap concept can only be truly effective if done on the federal level. 

How does RGGI work? The states go in together and auction off emission allowances and distribute the money generated back to the participating states. Last Wednesday, the second RGGI auction but the first in which New Hampshire participated produced $106 million or $3.38 per allowance (equal to one ton of emissions). New Hampshire's share was just over $4 million. 

The money, by law, will be used be used for energy efficiency programs including $1.2 million already committed to weatherization projects for low income families. Who buys the allowances? There were sixty-nine bidders including utilities and third party entities who will hold and trade the allowances. Who pays for this? It will be ratepayers when they pay their electric bills because the cost of the allowances will be embedded in the costs of producing electricity. The benefits are less pollution and slowing of global warming. And, if New Hampshire had not joined the other states, our costs would have gone up but we would not have had the $4 million from last week's auction sent to our state. 

It will be interesting to see if the example of the RGGI states and the success of last week's auction to sell carbon emission allowances will provide a model for a national program under President Barack Obama.

* * *

Each Senator gets appointed by the Senate President to three or four standing committees. Last week I was also reappointed to three statutory committees. Those are usually committees that over see, study or review the implementation of a law or an area of government activity. I have been reappointed, again by the Senate President, to these committees: Citizens Trade Policy Commission, State Park System Advisory Council, and the Comprehensive Cancer Plan Oversight Board

Each of these committees has a different activity level. Budget cuts have virtually defunded the New Hampshire Cancer Plan. But the State Parks' Council is very active and helping to craft a long term strategic plan for the operations of our state parks and historic sites. By law, the plan was to have been completed by September but for several reasons including the resignation of the director of the Division of Parks and Recreation, the work fell behind. A new director has been appointed and I introduced a bill to extend the due date for the plan to next September.

* * *

Starting with the Area Choir concert in early December, the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons have come along in spite of our historic ice storm and near blizzard over the weekend. Our family has enjoyed the expressions of warmth and good wishes sent by family and friends and we extend our own holiday greetings to our faithful readers. 

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com


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