End of EPA program stings Monadnock Paper

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement that it is shutting down its Climate Leaders Program is bad news for one New Hampshire company, Monadnock Paper Mills Inc. in Bennington. Monadnock was the only New Hampshire company taking part in the program, which has helped organizations nationwide reduce their greenhouse gas emissions since 2002.Monadnock – the oldest continually operating paper mill in the country – submitted its greenhouse gas inventory to the EPA just two weeks before receiving the news on Sept. 16 that the program was ending. “EPA has determined that climate programs operated by the states and NGOs are now robust enough to service our Partners and other entities that wish to continue to advance their climate leadership,” read the e-mail sent from EPA announcing the shutdown. “It’s just another one of those cases that is extremely disheartening,” said Michelle Hamm, manager of environmental services at Monadnock, which generates up to half of its energy from its hydroelectric facility on the Contoocook River. The paper mill was also a member of EPA’s Performance Track program, which recognized and rewarded facilities that committed to reducing their environmental impact. That program was shut down last May.The Climate Leaders Program offered online resources for participating partners to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, which could be used to set an emissions-reductions goal. But since Monadnock had to inventory the emissions not just of its primary facility but also its freight and hydropower facility, it hired an independent company to perform the greenhouse gas inventory — a process that took six months.“We just spent a lot of time and effort to generate our greenhouse gas inventory,” said Hamm, in addition to the “financial investment in generating that as well.” Hamm said the company has begun researching other organizations with which to partner, but wonders whether there will be enough demand for an equivalent statewide program, since Monadnock was the only organization in the state to take part in the Climate Leaders program. “The biggest impact is the timing,” aid Hamm. “We’ve done all the work and now that we’ve done all the work, it’s like ‘oh, sorry, we’re going to move on now.’” As it phases out the Climate Leaders Program, the EPA has promised to work with partners to transition them into non-federal programs. — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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