PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (January 4, 2018)—When Alexandra Dunn, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator for New England, sits down at her desk for the first time Monday morning, she’ll have a letter waiting for her from more than 200 residents from 83 towns and cities in New Hampshire. The letter expresses the group’s concerns that the EPA is abdicating its mission, to protect public health and the environment, under the Trump administration, and urges Dunn to do what she can to address toxic chemicals in local drinking water, climate change and the administration’s penchant for censoring science.
Dunn will oversee federal environmental protection efforts in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. She most recently served as the executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of States, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps state governments improve water infrastructure, air pollution control, site cleanup and chemical management.
The letter was signed by 235 people and delivered by Roger Stephenson, with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The local science and environmental communities are pleased with Ms. Dunn’s appointment, and hope she can make a difference in this administration,” said Stephenson. “We say that New Hampshire is at the end of the nation’s tailpipe because we receive pollution from upwind coal plants. People are also extremely concerned about perfluorocarbons in local drinking water. While Ms. Dunn gets high marks because of her experience, it likely will be an uphill battle in an administration intent on upending EPA’s mission.”
The letter points out that EPA scientists were prevented from speaking at the State of the Narragansett Bay conference in Rhode Island in October. The signers ask for Dunn’s assurance that EPA scientists will not be silenced on the topic of climate change or other environmental and public health matters, and will not be prevented from attending or speaking at conferences, whether in New Hampshire or elsewhere in the region.
Stephenson says New Hampshire residents also hope Dunn pushes back against budget cuts. “As the new budget season begins, the administration and Congress seem to think that funding for environmental protection and the enforcement of regulations that protect public health can be slashed with impunity,” he said.
Stephenson plans to invite Dunn to New Hampshire for a tour and roundtable with residents. Robert Schultz, of Lebanon, who signed the letter, said he hopes the new regional administrator engages with residents because a lot is at stake.
“Speaking as a Granite-Stater, a retired professor of environmental ethics, and an active faith community member, I believe the current EPA’s program cuts, its leadership’s disrespect for science, and the administrator’s proposal to rescind the Clean Power Plan are a violation of the EPA mission, of government for and by the people, in Mr. Lincoln’s words, and of our country’s global responsibility to make deep and prompt cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Schultz.