EPA nominee matters to the North Country

Under her leadership, the agency will make prudent decisions involving renewable fuels and biomass

What’s happening in Washington is often and understandably overshadowed by the immediate needs here at home. And by home, we mean here in the North Country. Here at home we are facing an unemployment rate higher than the state as a whole. And where there is employment, our region’s weekly average wage is the lowest in the state. Big issues indeed.

So why should the right person to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington matter to Berlin and the North Country?

Because this spring, more than 500 contractors are on site constructing the Burgess BioPower biomass power plant in Berlin. Burgess BioPower will be one of the largest and most environmentally advanced biomass energy plants in the Northeast, and once operational later this year, will provide good-paying jobs to approximately 30 to 40 people — here at home.

Additionally, hundreds of loggers, foresters and haulers across the North Country (the region of New Hampshire most dependent on natural resources) will be employed in order to procure and deliver the substantial amounts of biomass needed to produce renewable power at Burgess.

The nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy understands the important role that biomass plays as a sustainable energy resource and recognizes biomass as an important renewable fuel. She understands that using renewable biomass to generate electricity can decrease carbon emissions and be a viable alternative to coal and oil – two fuels we just don’t grow here at home.

Ms. McCarthy has been endorsed by the Biomass Power Association. Under her leadership, the EPA will make prudent decisions in regard to the issues around renewable fuels and biomass. In order to take the reins of the EPA, Gina McCarthy needs to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen understand that biomass is an important part of New Hampshire’s electric and heat energy mix, and a vital part of the North Country’s economy. Both senators can signal this understanding and support for wood-fueled electricity production by voting to confirm Gina McCarthy as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Biomass energy is a clean and abundant source of renewable power. At the end of the year, with the Burgess plant complete, 30 to 40 people will be employed on-site, with hundreds more working in the woods, responsibly utilizing our forest resources and improving the North Country’s overall economic health.

And with the support and affirmative votes from both of our New Hampshire senators, a year from now down in Washington we will have Gina McCarthy leading an environmental regulatory agency with the North Country in mind.

Alexandra K. Ritchie is managing director of Cate Street Capital, owner of the Burgess BioPower plant. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, represents the North Country in the New Hampshire Senate.

Categories: Opinion